Cities on the Frontline Speaker Series
#17 – Mainstreaming Resilience Thinking Into Recovery Packages
The seventeenth edition of Cities on the Frontline Series was the second out of two webinars to be designed and implemented under the Resilient Cities Action Package (ReCAP 21) to share knowledge and experiences on COVID-19 impacts on cities and their approaches and actions taken towards a resilient recovery. It forms a part of a targeted approach to knowledge exchange and global dissemination of best practices, experience and lessons learnt to facilitate peer-to-peer learning within and beyond the project.
Ruben Werchan, Senior Policy Officer for Sustainable Urban Development at the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), gave a brief overview of the ReCAP 21 project created in partnership with the Resilient Cities Network, GIZ, ICLEI and Cities Alliance and funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). Ruben mentioned the project is currently being carried out in five cities and three countries as a pilot to identify the most suitable approaches to foster green recovery and resilience in urban planning, highlighting the importance of taking an approach to resilience that not only addresses economic aspects but social and green aspects as well. Finally, he emphasized the value of bringing together different actors with their own perspectives and unique approaches and the need of exchanging good practices and experiences on green recovery as cities around the world are currently fighting the pandemic and other related impacts.
Dana Omran, Global Director and Operations Strategy Africa at the Resilient Cities Network delivered a first presentation that framed the session with the Resilient Recovery Framework, a tool that was created to identify what long term resilient recovery means and the key aspects to consider when tackling its challenges. Dana followed with a deep dive into its four key dimensions that are: Equity-Centered- addressed for instance, by mapping the most vulnerable communities, Risk-Aware-by understanding and managing compound risks, System-Enabled, by enhancing urban infrastructure to meet the needs of businesses and communities and, Climate-Focused by prioritizing low-emission development. Dana followed this presentation with a direct Question for Japheth Habinshuti, the CRO of Kigali -one of the ReCAP 21 participating cities- inviting him to share the opportunities and challenges he has faced when trying to introduce these concepts into conversations about recovery with fellow city stakeholders.
Following Dana´s question, Japheth Habinshuti Chief Resilience Officer in the City of Kigali shared insights on how Kigali has been navigating the process of prioritizing recovery needs and developing interventions to address them. The first steps to apply the framework, he mentioned were to consult different city departments with conversations around how their institutions would leverage learnings of COVID-19 for a resilient recovery. Then the process of brainstorming began, this involved rethinking and enhancing initiatives that are being implemented to not only address COVID-19 recovery but also to address other underlying shocks and stresses. Next in the process, Japeth expressed, was populating an action inventory tool, with potential actions aligned and prioritized according to existing policies and local and global priorities as well as other shocks and stresses that also need to be addressed. As a final step Japeth discussed trainings to strengthen capacities as well as the development of key initiatives to be implemented. Through this work, Kigali determined that the city is still in its initial recovery efforts however they have prospective actions that are a few steps from becoming bankable proposals that they can find funding for and implement in the near future. Lastly, Japheth thanked the partners for facilitating the process and creating de tools that came the right moment to catalyze a robust resilience process in Kigali.
Soumya Chaturvedula Deputy Director, ICLEI South Asia followed Japheth’s intervention with another example of the work carried out in the ReCAP project, this time in Bangladesh. She began her presentation by introducing the main challenges that Bangladesh has faced due to the pandemic that include food insecurity, increased poverty, exacerbated waste management systems, among others. She then went over the work that the ReCAP 21 project has done in two particular cities in Bangladesh: Rajshahi and Narayganj. Following an already established impact and Stategic analysis and Climate Action Plan the ReCAP 21 project gave an opportunity to integrate resilient recovery action into these measures. Some of the tangible actions that Soumya shared include air pollution censors, rooftop solar energy systems and the development of green urban spaces. Soumya ended her intervention by explaining that there is a lot of support for climate resilient recovery in Bangladesh however the big challenge that cities face come with attempting to integrate and mainstreaming them into the city and the national planning agendas for real actions.
Julian Baskin Principal Urban Advisor at the Cities Alliance Secretariat, wrapped up the session by making some final remarks and highlighting key aspects to consider when promoting a resilient recovery. The first hey aspect is ownership of a project and capacity to implement: to create ownership local priorities must take central stage and resilience must work around them and not the other was around. Agendas must respond to local needs and give tangible hope for the future. Second is governance, nothing happens without good local governance. Basic agendas will not be able to turn into complex ones without building staff capacity to carry them out at a local level. Finally, Julian stressed the need for planning techniques that have simple planning approaches to pave the very first steps towards a more resilient future so that even in the most incapacitated cities can start building a basic road network for future growth. Finally, Julian, ended the session by noting the impact of the Covid-19 has been extensive and there is a still a long way to go in the road to recovery for cities.