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Agenda: Safe Cities

Agenda (selected) 

Course Overview

This specialization course provides an overview of disaster risk management sound practice for local government policymakers, urban managers, planners, and disaster management professionals. It discusses the inter-linkages of the social and physical parameters of vulnerability of cities with their local government development, organization, and management. It explains the impediments to disaster risk reduction in urban environments and then presents the key concepts of disaster risk management and the role and intervention of local institutions. It emphasizes that disaster risk reduction only takes place when it is inherently integrated within local government functions. 


Thus, it proposes a model for implementing such integration that is based on the development of a city-wide disaster risk management master plan (DRMMP). It is founded on an understanding of the risk parameters and incorporates action plans related to response and recovery, preparedness and awareness raising, mitigation and prevention, and institution building. The course discusses the structural and organizational arrangements for implementation, the resource and training needs, the strategies and challenges in implementation and discusses practical “do’s” and “don’ts” based on past experience, proposing an implementation framework. It establishes that disaster risk reduction stems from coherent policies that are based on a comprehensive understanding of risk, that promote preparedness and mitigation and incorporate the participation of the active agents of the community. Disaster risk management is a concern to the whole community and requires their involvement and contribution. The course provides three case studies to illustrate different approaches to disaster risk reduction, the related organizational, institutional and financial parameters, and how these experiments have supported sustainable development goals in different cities.

This specialization course targets local government policymakers, urban managers, planners, and disaster management professionals. It consists three sessions and an end of course exercise.

  • Session 1: Disaster Risk and Its Management In The Context of Local Government

This introductory presentation establishes the relationship between disaster and urbanization by explaining the elements that determine vulnerability in cities, in particular vulnerabilities related to the built environment, population and institutions.  It relates the vulnerabilities to typical local governmental organizational functions such as urban planning, public works and social services.  It then explains the impediments to disaster risk reduction and their consequences. It argues that decentralization is critical to achieving disaster risk reduction, and that it is the cumulative contribution of all the active agents of a community that reduces risk and develops safer cities within a sustainable development process.


  • Session 2: Principles and Components of Disaster Risk Management

The session discusses the elements of “sound” urban disaster risk management at the local level. It defines the role of local government in the integration of disaster management within the functional structures of government. The concept of Integrated Disaster Risk Management (IDRM) is proposed as a model for implementing a systematic and systemic disaster management program for cities (particularly large and complex urban agglomerations). The session also explains the importance of disaster risk assessment (DRA) and discusses the available tools, such as scenario analysis and risk mapping, for quantifying risk and understanding its demands on the community. It discusses the integration of information and communication tools, and how gaps and needs can be evaluated through a “consequence analysis” process, which allows to involve stakeholders and develop a coherent strategy for disaster risk reduction

  • Session 3: Developing and Implementing a City-wide Disaster Risk Reduction Agenda

This session focuses on the implementation of a disaster risk reduction agenda for a city.  It presents a framework based on four core objectives: coherent public policies, institutional commitment, mitigation and a culture of prevention. The Disaster Risk Management Master Plan (DRMMP) model is provided as an implementation mechanism to achieve these objectives.  DRMMP is driven by the risk parameters developed in disaster risk assessment, that is, by the “demand” from the disaster and not by the available resources. It allows for the development of four action plans: Response and Recovery, Preparedness, Mitigation and Institutional Building. The importance of tools such as information and communication technology in mainstreaming disaster risk reduction within the city’s functions and in communicating risk to stakeholders is further emphasized. The DRMMP assists with capacity enhancement for local governments both in building code development and enforcement, and community preparedness, as well as in retrofitting existing buildings and infrastructure. 

  •   End of Course Project

To meet the course completion requirement the participants are required to submit an end-of course case study/project. The objective of the course project is to apply newly acquired knowledge to build a case study of a natural disaster risk management system in a selected city. In the course project participants should provide a critical assessment of risks present in the city and the specific ways in which the current city disaster risk management system addresses or doesn’t address these risks. The project should be prepared in a case study format.



Fouad Bendimerad, Chairman, Earthquake Megacities Initiative (EMI)


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