As part of the virtual series Insight Sessions: (Post) COVID Urban Futures, the event "The importance of disaster preparedness in cities and municipalities: experiences and lessons learned" took place on September, 1st 2021. The series facilitates a recurring exchange on various topics of sustainable urban development in the (Post) COVID-19 era between urban practitioners and interested parties worldwide. In the exchange formats, space is created for impulses and reflection and good practices are presented.
Considering the recent flood events in Germany in July, the session discussed global challenges and lessons learned from devastating flood events around the globe. Practitioners and experts from the field of urban planning exchanged ideas on how cities can better prepare for extreme weather events, improve early warning systems and increase public awareness of disaster risks.
In the first keynote speech "Cities and Flooding - Integrated urban flood risk management", Abhas K. Jha, Practice Manager, Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management, South Asia Region at World Bank, discussed the challenges and possible courses of action in dealing with climate related risks of unprecedented and therefore unpredictable magnitude – so-called Black Swan Events. He stressed the importance of functioning (early) warning systems and their continuous further development as well as interdepartmental agreements within the authorities so that they can react appropriately in the event of a disaster.
In her keynote address "Reducing vulnerability and increasing resilience of cities to climate change impacts", Dr. Koko Warner, UNFCC, spoke about the increasing risks worldwide due to global warming of more than 1.5 °C, which the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts. The importance of adaptation measures in municipalities and regions was particularly emphasized.
Both emphasized the importance of green infrastructure solutions in contrast to the expansion of grey infrastructure such as floodwalls and dikes. Sponge cities in Bangladesh were presented as an exemplary good practice, in which falling or inflowing water masses are absorbed by unsealed surfaces.
The two presentations were followed by a panel discussion of the experts William Mazibuko, Director of Disaster Management, City of Johannesburg, South Africa, Markus Sulk, Team Leader, Vocational Rescue Service, Fire Brigade Dortmund, Germany and Karma Dupchu, Director of the National Centre for Hydrology and Meteorology, Royal Government of Buthan on the topic "Good Practices and challenges in municipal flood risk management worldwide".
You can find the recording of the event here: Insight Session: The importance of disaster preparedness in cities and municipalities | Connective Cities Network