Urbanization: Driver of Risk - or Opportunities for Resilience?
As Governments and UN bodies prepare for the World-Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction (March 2015), for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG in summer 2015) and the Climate Change Conference in Paris (December 2015) a new report – the WorldRiskReport - on global risk patterns and risks of urban areas is presented today in New York co-hosted by the Permanent Mission of Germany and the Permanent Mission of Indonesia to the United Nations.
“The World Risk Report 2014 and the World Risk Index provide very valuable scientific input into the preparations of several major UN conferences taking place in the course of 2015 and 2016. They highlight the crucial role risk reduction plays in preventing disasters and in mitigating their consequences.
Their findings and recommendations will directly benefit the World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, the Summit on the Post 2015 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change as well as the Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (HABITAT III).
We are grateful to the researchers and authors of the World Risk Report and proud to present their findings today at the German Mission to the United Nations in New York “ - says the Ambassador Harald Braun, Permanent Representative of Germany to the United Nations, on the occasion of the presentation of the World Risk Report 2014
The report features the WorldRiskIndex which assess and compares the disaster risk of countries. The results show that people are particularly at risk in countries that are prone to be hit by hydrological, meteorological, geological or climatic hazards such as floods, droughts, storms, earthquakes and sea level rise while also having a high inherent vulnerability and low response capacity to these events.
Following a modular approach, the WorldRiskIndex therefore differentiates disaster risk into the four components of hazard exposure, susceptibility, lack of short-term coping capacity and lack of long-term adaptive capacity.
“Whether extreme events and natural hazards trigger a disaster and crises, is not solely a question of the intensity and frequency of extreme events, but also significantly depends on the vulnerability and preparedness of countries and cities at risk” – says Prof. Joern Birkmann from the University of Stuttgart who is the scientific coordinator of the WorldRiskIndex.
This year’s edition the WorldRiskReport examines for the first time also levels and dynamics of risk in urban areas. The results show that urbanization is not a driver of risk per se. Rather urbanization also opens up opportunities for risk reduction in cities and beyond. “The high density of cities, for example, allows for high efficiencies with regards to protective infrastructure and disaster response mechanisms”, says Dr. Matthias Garschagen from the United Nations University – Institute of the Environment and Human Security who is a co-author of the report.
Whether these opportunities of urbanization can be tapped or whether urban growth predominantly drives up risk levels depends strongly on the quality of risk governance in the respective countries and cities. The index results underscore that countries in which rapid urban growth exceeds the capacity of state and non-state actors to effectively build-up adaptive capacity and reduce vulnerabilities are amongst the countries with the highest risk levels.
Niger, for instance, has a comparatively low level of urbanization at present - but ranks amongst the countries with the highest levels of urban population growth and urban vulnerability. In contrast, in Sweden the major part of the population is living in urban areas (high urbanization level), while featuring a lower level of urban growth and a very low level of urban vulnerability.
Comparing the national risk index results with the urban risk index results per country show, that urban risk hotspots are not solely located in developing countries, but also developed nations, such as the United States and Australia rank high on urban risk. This is due to the fact that various cities are located in exposed areas that can be hit by extreme events, natural hazards and climate change, as just seen in terms of the snow storm in New York two days ago.
The comparison of countries with the highest national risk levels and the highest urban risk levels show that the Philippines, Bangladesh and Guatemala are both high at the national risk and the urban risk levels.
The report that has been edited by the United Nations University- Institute for Environment and Human Security and the Alliance Development Works also provides concrete recommendations for risk reduction. “The WorldRiskIndex is an important vehicle for us to communicate scientific findings to policy makers and to derive important recommendations for international negotiations”, highlights Prof. Jakob Rhyner – Vice Rector of the United Nations University. Furthermore, Peter Mucke, the CEO of the Alliance Development Works (Bündnis Entwicklung Hilft) underscores that: “NGOs on the ground can use the report as an important tool to lobby for linking disaster risk reduction and emergency response with long-term development strategies, particularly in the global South.”
Recommendations for up-coming World Conferences in Sendai, New York and Paris:
The findings of the report suggest action for Disaster Risk Reduction and Sustainable Development should be prioritized in risk hotspot countries identified in the study. In addition, the findings underscore the potential for synergies and co-benefits between the action taken for Disaster Risk Reduction, Sustainable Development and Climate Change Response. The results of the RiskIndex at national scale and for urban areas call for more comprehensive funding strategies. Mechanisms to improve hazard monitoring tools are important, but equally important are codified quality criteria for risk governance and inclusive policies that help the most vulnerable groups. The report highlights that one-size-fits-all funding mechanisms for risk reduction and adaptation will not be sufficient. Policy solutions rather have to be custom tailored towards specific urbanization dynamics, the overall socio-economic development context and the risk composition in the respective country or city.
The report can be downloaded under the following link:
Further Information – please contact:
Prof. Jörn Birkmann, Universität Stuttgart, Institut für Raumordnung und Entwicklungsplanung Stuttgart (IREUS), Tel. 0711/685-66333, E-Mail: joern.birkmann (at) ireus.uni-stuttgart.de
OR Dr. Matthias Garschagen and Janine Kandel; United Nations University, E-Mail:email@example.com
OR Melanie Huber, Bündnis Entwicklung Hilft, E-Mail: presse (at) entwicklung-hilft.de
Andrea Mayer-Grenu, Universität Stuttgart, Abt. Hochschulkommunikation, Tel. 0711/685-82176,
E-Mail: andrea.mayer-grenu (at) hkom.uni-stuttgart.de
Andrea Mayer-Grenu | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
New population data provide insight on aging, migration
31.08.2016 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
PRB projects world population rising 33 percent by 2050 to nearly 10 billion
25.08.2016 | Population Reference Bureau
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.
In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...
'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.
Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine
21.10.2016 | Information Technology
21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences