Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Small- and mid-sized cities particularly vulnerable

29.09.2016

A new study and article in Nature examine the vulnerability of urban areas to extreme events

Small and mid-size not mega cities are growing quickest and are highly vulnerable to extreme events and climate change – says a new study and paper in NATURE developed by an international team of researchers coordinated by Prof. Joern Birkmann (University of Stuttgart).


In the city of Semarang / Indonesia residents are fighting against rising sea levels and frequent flooding.

Jörn Birkmann

In the upcoming UN Conference on Cities (UN-Habitat III, 17-20 October 2016) rapidly growing small- and mid-sized cities in Africa and Asia that are highly susceptible to natural hazards need more attention, since these cities will decide about the success or failure of the New Urban Agenda.

At Habitat III around 170 countries will adopt the United Nations’ New Urban Agenda calling for governments to make cities more inclusive, sustainable and resilient. Small and medium-sized cities are particularly susceptible to natural hazards and climate change and often have limited capacities to build resilience.

Research and political attention in the past has often been given to the growth of mega-cities, but it will be the fast-growing small (populations of 0.3-0.5 million) and medium-sized (0.5 to 5 million) cities, especially in Africa and Asia where the success or failure of sustainable urban development will be decided.

Cities like Kampala in Uganda, Niamey in Niger and Chittagong in Bangladesh face a host of pressures that make them especially vulnerable to natural hazards. They are experiencing high relative rates of population growth while combating poverty, poor infrastructure and governance.

It is fitting that the UN Habitat III conference will be held from 17th to 20th October in Quito, Ecuador. In April, the city and nearby Portoviejo and Manta suffered an earthquake that killed more than 660 people and injured at least 10,000. Some 73,000 people were displaced to shelters, camps or host homes.

Over 700,000 people needed emergency assistance, such as safe drinking water, improved sanitation and hygiene kits. Three months on 11,000 people still lack basic services. Such devastation highlights how susceptible many cities are to natural hazards, from river and coastal flooding to drought, heat, storms, earthquakes, tsunamis and landslides.

Prof. Birkmann says: “In order to minimize human suffering, cities need to be able to anticipate, absorb, recover and learn quickly from adverse events. This requires clear priorities towards the most vulnerable and rapidly growing small- and medium-sized growing cities.“

The populations of medium and small cities around the world will rise by more than 32% (469 million people) between 2015 and 2030, compared with about 26% (203 million people) in large and megacities.
Despite these challenges and problems, strengthening the resilience of small and mid-sized cities offers opportunities. Smaller cities are easier to manage than megacities. Risk reduction and climate change strategies embedded now can expand as cities grow. And the coordination of and dialogues between different groups are more feasible in small cities.

To assess which countries have the highest urban vulnerability to natural hazards Prof. Joern Birkmann and Dr. Torsten Welle from the University of Stuttgart analysed the urban populations of 140 countries, including more than 1600 cities above 300,000 inhabitants. Based on a standard methodology (Welle et al. 2015), UN and World Bank data was used on urban populations, infrastructure and socio-economic indicators. In the absence of local data we used representative national data on insurance coverage, medical services and governance conditions.

The new study and comment in NATURE highlights the 15 countries where the most vulnerable urban population lives are: Afghanistan, Yemen, Haiti, Central African Republic, Niger, Nigeria, Cote d'Ivoire, Mauritania, Liberia, Pakistan, Mali, Iraq, Benin, Togo and Gambia.

Original publication:
Birkmann, Joern; Welle, Torsten, Solecki, William; Lawsa, Shuaib and Garschagen, Matthias (2016): Boost resilience of small and mid-sized cities, smaller settlements are growing faster than megacities — and they need more protection from extreme events, in: NATURE (vol. 537), pages 605-608
The Nature article and the supplement can be downloaded in online versions: http://nature.com/articles/doi:10.1038/537605a

More information:
Prof. Joern Birkmann, University of Stuttgart, Institute of Spatial and Regional Planning, Tel. ++ 49 (0)711 685-66333,
E-Mail joern.birkmann (at) ireus.uni-stuttgart.de

www.uni-stuttgart.de/ireus 

Andrea Mayer-Grenu | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Impacts of mass coral die-off on Indian Ocean reefs revealed
21.02.2017 | University of Exeter

nachricht How much biomass grows in the savannah?
16.02.2017 | Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Impacts of mass coral die-off on Indian Ocean reefs revealed

21.02.2017 | Earth Sciences

Novel breast tomosynthesis technique reduces screening recall rate

21.02.2017 | Medical Engineering

Use your Voice – and Smart Homes will “LISTEN”

21.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>