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There were 346 reported disasters caused by natural
hazards worldwide last year, resulting in over US$
66.5 billion of economic damage and almost 23,000
human lives lost, with nearly 100 million people aﬀected.
Europe had 23 reported disasters, including France’s
heat wave in the summer of 2015, which caused 3,275 deaths
and over US$ 1 billion of damage, and the ﬂoods in the
United Kingdom, which cost the country over US$ 3.6 billion
in economic losses.1 The real impact of ‘silent’ disasters
such as droughts, coastal erosion, cascading eﬀects and others
has not been quantifed, but is believed to be substantially
larger than previously estimated. In addition, climate-related
hazards will increase in frequency, intensity, spatial extent
and duration as a result of a changing climate, according to
the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report.
Urban risk is continually increasing. It has been estimated that, currently,
more than 50 per cent of the world’s population is living in urban areas.
By 2030, more than 60 per cent of the world’s population is expected to live
in cities, with record concentrations in large urban conglomerations and
megacities in the developing world.
For this reason, countries need to focus their collective energies to
create a safer world for urban dwellers and
develop a series of innovative approaches to meet this challenge.
Building resilience is crucial for European cities, and disaster
risk reduction (DRR) at the local level is already
well integrated in several EU-wide initiatives and frameworks led by
the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection
department (DG ECHO). EU civil protection legislation, for example,
implementation of a European cross-sector disaster management policy,
and implementing resilience through
better risk assessments, analysis and DRR action plans in EU cities is
a practical translation of this policy.
Further, it has been recognized that disaster risk reduction is an
important component of climate change adaptation. For example, the
European Commission Directorate-General for Climate Action (DG CLIMA)
‘Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy’ initiative acknowledges
disaster risk reduction as a key pillar in
European climate change adaptation policy, and DRR action plans at the
local level can be an integral part of
European cities’ climate change adaptation strategies.
Disaster risk reduction at the local level is also crucial to
sustainable development more generally. The EU
Committee of the Regions recognizes that DRR should be integrated
into existing planning processes, and calls
for embedding resilience in development policies.
In its priorities for 2015-2020, the Committee of the Regions highlights
“promoting building resilience to disasters as one of the fundamentals
for sustainable growth
and jobs”, where local and regional authorities play a key role.
Further, the European Commission Directorate-General for Regional
and Urban Policy (DG REGIO) has allocated considerable funds specifcally
to climate change adaptation and risk prevention within the framework of
the 2014-2020 Cohesion Policy, and has
included disaster resilience and risk prevention and management within
funds allocated towards sustainable
development within the European Structural and Investment Funds for 2014-2020.
On the global level, disaster risk reduction has been recognized as a top
priority for the international political
agenda and a critical component of sustainable development, as evident from
its inclusion in all the key sustainable development instruments,
such as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Paris Agreement
on Climate Change and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda for Financing for Development.
In 2015, the international community adopted the Sendai Framework for Disaster
Risk Reduction 2015-2030,
outlining the way forward in building resilience to disasters.
The Framework specifcally acknowledges the role
of local governments in risk reduction, and the importance of
tackling disaster risks at the local level to reduce
the vulnerability and impact of both large- and small-scale
disasters that are increasing in intensity and frequency due to
climate change and urbanization. Of the seven global targets agreed
in the Sendai Framework,
the frst and primary task is to “increase the number of countries
with national and local disaster risk reduction
strategies by 2020”.
In order to increase resilience at the local level,
UNISDR has been working with local governments and
partners to develop tools for self-assessment on disaster risk
reduction so as to help communities identify strengths and weaknesses
and address areas requiring improvement. The self-assessments are based
on the ‘Ten Essential.
More information is available in PDF
U-SCORE Lessons learned from conducting self-assessments on disaster risk reduction at the local level in Europe