Making mountain cities resilient


Two examples of increasing the resilience of mountain communities in Panama to disaster, written by Mountain Partnership member Fundación CoMunidad’s director, Alberto Pascual, have been published in the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR)’s 2017 edition of “How To Make Cities More Resilient: A Handbook For Local Government Leaders”. The handbook is a contribution to the UNISDR Making Cities Resilient Campaign, which aims to support sustainable urban development by promoting resilience activities and increasing local-level understanding of disaster risk.

Since the first edition of the handbook, local governments all over the world have come up with concrete ways to reduce disaster risk and boost resilience. With the adoption of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction in 2015, the Making Cities Resilient Campaign entered a new phase and shifted its focus towards implementation support, city-to-city learning and cooperation, local action planning and the monitoring of progress in cities. The 2017 edition of the handbook responds to the call for better access to information, knowledge resources and tools to effectively deal with the impacts of natural hazards and climate change. It provides an overview of key strategies and actions as part of an overall sustainable urban development strategy.

Included in the new handbook are a number of examples contributed by mayors and local government representatives that illustrate how local governments, together with stakeholders and partners, are able to achieve resilience. The first case study by Pascual discusses a workshop held in the Municipality of Bugaba, Panama on linking the Decentralization Law of Panama with the UNISDR’s ten-point checklist of essentials for making cities resilient. Bugaba is a mountainous municipality, located at the highest point of Panama at 3 475 metres above the sea level. It is an important conservation area and also has the largest production of vegetables – such as potatoes, onions and cabbage – nationwide, enabled by fertile soils that allow for agricultural diversification. The workshop in Bugaba brought together stakeholders for presentations and working groups to debate legal instruments and their relationship with the “Ten Essentials for Making Cities Resilient”, allowing participants to identify strengths, weaknesses and viable paths to increased resilience.

Pascual’s second example discusses the piloting of the City Disaster Resilience Scorecard in Bugaba to assess the city’s resilience based on the Ten Essentials. The City Disaster Resilience Scorecard provides a set of assessments that allow local governments to monitor and review progress and challenges in the implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. In the piloting process, it was vital to collect the perspectives of different stakeholders in the territory through their participation in decision-making focused on risk management. This strengthened the commitment of citizens and generated a significant multiplier effect among the participating sectors, including civil society, the Municipality of Bugaba, municipal representatives, government institutions, academia, research centres and the private sector. The information collected through the planning tool will allow the use of available resources and capacities to develop concrete action.

Since April 2015, Pascual has been an advocate for the Making Cities Resilient Campaign in Panama. Advocates play an active role in advancing campaign messages, reporting on progress, providing policy recommendations, sharing knowledge and promoting city-to-city learning and collaboration. Local government leaders, technical experts, activists and individuals who want to actively promote disaster risk reduction and local resilience can become advocates by submitting an application form.

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Photo by Alberto Pascual

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