Resilient Cities 2014 – Highlights from day two

The second day of Resilient Cities 2014 is coming to a close. In addition to the shining sun and singing birds, here is a quick summary of some highlights and takeaways for me:

–       For someone relatively new to the scene of global climate change adaptation, I’m amazed with the sheer number of local governments around the world that are working on climate change adaptation and disaster reduction. The Durban Adaptation Charter has added 149 signatories in 2013 alone. The UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction is working with 1,900 municipalities – the majority of which are in Asia and Latin America. The Roadmap for Resilience of Latin American Cities is gaining traction and attention in Latin America. The impacts of climate change are truly being felt in our global cities, and cities are taking action.

–       This conference has really emphasized to me the role and responsibility that cities have in our global and collective well-being. A few have described cities as the ‘front-line’ of global challenges like climate change, conflict, food shortages, drought, immigration. Often, global dialogue and initiatives about these issues has been among nations – leaving cities out. Cities are already strapped for resources and struggling to deliver an ever increasing suite of services, but they can’t afford to ignore these issues. What’s perhaps even more important is that this kind of local government leadership requires a public that understands the link between global and local well-being to elect leaders that work on creating the best city for the world, not just the best city in the world. (I hope to blog more on this issue later, I find it really fascinating!)

–       Use of GIS is now almost ubiquitous. Now, there’s an ever-growing interest in making information more accessible and using citizens for data collection – but it seems we have some real life challenges that remain. I can’t wait to play with the maps and compare spatial data on cities around the world under themes such as work, movement, people, and public on the Urban Observatory

–       There are often many different approaches, solutions, ideas, metrics, etc. to tackle some of the big problems we face as a society. But when it comes to actually getting stuff done, we can’t underestimate the impact of people who bring energy to their work. This intangible quality can be the main difference between action and inaction; between mediocre and excellent.

 

Lovely park in Bonn that has been the setting of my morning runs.

Lovely park in Bonn that has been the setting of my morning runs.

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