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Reinvent urban planning that takes community at core and not hardware

23rd May 2013

The 4th Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, attended by a record 3,500 people and representatives from 172 governments, ended on 23rd May with a call for "the immediate start of work to develop targets and indicators to monitor the reduction of risk". "This Global Platform confirmed that the process to develop a successor to the existing global agreement on disaster risk reduction, the Hyogo Framework for Action or HFA, is well underway.

There is consensus amongst participants that the new instrument should build on the HFA and introduce the necessary innovations to address the challenges of increasing risk over the next 20 to 30 years by enabling local action, address climate risk and recognize the central roles of both the scientific community and the private sector which were both very present at this Global Platform.

Sendai City in Japan has been selected to host the World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in 2015. The city of one million people in the northern region of Tohoku was one of the hardest hit zones in the March 2011 Great Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. Sendai City Mayor Emiko Okuyama said: "I am most honoured to host the next World Conference and Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction. I hope it will provide an opportunity for us to share our experiences and lessons learnt from the earthquake/disaster with the international community." Since the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, Sendai City has made remarkable progress in recovery and strengthening its resilience both in terms of its infrastructure and its disaster reduction and awareness preparedness.

The conference also attended by over fifty plus Mayors and institutions dealing with Local Governments urged national and international leaders to trust and invest more at the local level to transform rapidly expanding urban areas into safe and resilient 21st century cities with a united in their message: the future of this planet will be decided at the local level.

The value of urban investment over the next 40 years will be more than all in previous history. A packed forum on Building Resilience into Urban Planning and Investments was conveyed global leaders that "if we get it wrong the results will be catastrophic". Perhaps the results are already visible from recent damage that took more than thousands life in Bangladesh and past episodes in Japan, China and Indian Ocean Tsunami.

Ms. Emiko Okuyama, the Mayor of Sendai, Japan, badly affected by the March 2011 earthquake said: " Sendai paid a tremendous price to learn the lesson that disasters cannot be prevented solely by improving facilities and taking other 'hardware' approaches rather city need to work with its community to ensure everything works incase of Disaster

The Mayor of Chacao, Venezuela, Emilio Grateron explained how he transformed a flood-prone area into a safe public space through community participation in Disaster Risk Reduction or building Community Resilience and how his Citi’s 50% Budget decision takes by Community as part of Participatory Budgeting.

Mayor of Hoboken, New Jersey, Dawn Zimmer, recalled how her city "filled up with water like a bath tub" during Super Storm Sandy in 2012 and she reaffirmed her determination to lead her city and its residents to a safer and more resilient future.

Dr. Piyush Ranjan Rout, Co Founder of Local Governance Network, who is recently chosen as Advocate for Making Cities Resilient Campaign by United Nation office for the Disaster Reduction call upon the Mayors and leaders that its time we need to look into reforming existing urban planning procedures as we all know the present form of city planning is not working and can’t accommodate future urban population and we also know even the best models of urban planning Singapore, Barcelona or Bogota are either not tested fully or not fitting at local level.

Same time even the bunch of new city that will host more than fifty percent of global urban population by 2030 are not yet born, so we need to frame a new toolkit that may guide Local & National Government to practice in future urban planning. He also focused that cities all over the world be it in south or north must ensure that the hardware they are procuring must useable in their city and not the other way that emergency service vehicle can’t reach the disaster site or the city should procure hardware as per their city street design to ensure that its investment are in place during disaster like situation. Further stressed that a city may be smaller or larger must develop an evacuation plan and make sure its effectiveness through mock drills. Therefore its urgent that we learn not just ours but others and build more resilience community based city sooner than latter.
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