/ Emergency / New Global Initiative on Urban Resilience Announced at Rio+20

New Global Initiative on Urban Resilience Announced at Rio+20

Matt Ball on June 22, 2012 - in Emergency, Projects

ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability and partners unveiled a new initiative that will catalyze urban resilience action worldwide at the Rio+20 Global Town Hall today. The Global Initiative on Urban Resilience (GIUR) bolsters disaster resilience – one of the hallmark themes of the historic UN Conference on Sustainable Development, better known as Rio +20.

Urban resilience is an indispensable precondition to the attainment of sustainable development and will drive agendas, investment opportunities, and building and infrastructure development. Building urban resilience involves reducing exposure to risk and vulnerability while increasing resistance and robustness and ensuring emergency preparedness.

Konrad Otto-Zimmermann, Secretary General of ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, representing an association of over 1220 local government Members, observed that, “Urban resilience must apply not only to climate change, but to all other shocks and stresses that affect community systems.”

The Report of the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability: Resilient People — Resilient Planet: A Future Worth Choosing, outlines a compelling vision, including 56 specific recommendations as well as a call to action.

“The Secretary General’s High-Level Panel makes clear that the protean concept of resilience cuts across all issues and sectors, and provides a new and vital dimension to the cause of sustainable development,” declared Dr. Jason Hartke, Vice President for the US Green Building Council.

“Harmonized measurements and effective management are interconnected, driving innovation in urban environments,” added Jay Carson, Executive Director of C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, in partnership with the Clinton Climate Initiative.

Acting as a leadership group on this important dimension of the challenge, ICLEI, the US Green Building Council, the Eye on Earth Summit, the World Bank Group, the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies Program on Energy, Resources, and the Environment, and the Earth Council Alliance Rio de Janeiro Office are raising the flag and galvanizing an urban resiliency movement that can catalyze community action around the world.

“Building resilient communities worldwide requires innovation and new partnerships, bringing big money to portfolios of green economy projects,” noted Dr. David Jhirad, Director of the Energy, Resources, and Environment Program at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies and HRH Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Professor in Energy and Environmental Policy.

Recognizing that the cause of resilience cannot be achieved by national governments alone, the GIUR will do its part to attain the High Level Panel’s goals and recommendations by focusing on urban geographies, identifying the synergies between city governments, non- governmental organizations, financial institutions, and different business sectors.

“Disaster management as well as community sustainability and resiliency are both critical issues that demand our focus. On behalf of Eye on Earth Partners, United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, we see the pivotal importance and urgent necessity of launching the Global Initiative on Urban Resilience,” explained Catherine Armour, Programme Manager of the Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative.

The GIUR will focus on eight key areas, but will refine its reach as innovative ideas emerge:

Convene a core group of organizations that will coordinate the stakeholders to provide global reach and dimension to the initiative
Encourage a resiliency dimension to the green building movement
Take a whole-of-urban government approach
Develop new incentives for budget action on resilience by local governments around the world
Build awareness of resilience as an indispensable precondition to sustainable development
Develop harmonized metrics for success to better achieve milestones and outcomes
Integrate geographic information systems and geospatial infrastructure into planning and budget decisions
Integrate systems for natural capital accounting, avoiding losses and reducing costs associated with shocks and disasters
“We have to change the way we think about infrastructure, agriculture, transportation, water, energy, how communities become resilient, what kind of information we share. We have to help people make infrastructure decisions that will prove resilient far into the future,” said Rachel Kyte, Vice President for Sustainable Development of the World Bank.

– end of press release –

Note to editors

The Global Initiative on Urban Resilience launched at Rio+20 Global Town Hall on 21 June 2012.

Media contact:

Katrina Borromeo, Online Communications Officer, ICLEI World Secretariat, on Tel +55 (21) 73908750 (in Brazil), email: media(at)iclei.org

More information

Global Initiative for Urban Resilience — Founding Members

ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability
ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability is an association of about 1220 local government Members from 80 countries who are committed to sustainable development. ICLEI’s membership comprises 12 mega-cities, 100 super-cities, 450 large cities and urban regions as well as 650 small and medium sized cities and towns, altogether representing  570 million people.

Resilient Cities, the global forum on urban resilience and cities’ adaptation to climate change annually organized back to back to the UNFCCC Climate Talks in Bonn, was successfully launched in May 2010. Organized by ICLEI and co-hosted by the World Mayors Council on Climate Change and the City of Bonn, the event also hosts the Mayors Adaptation Forum, the leadership segment of the congress.

US Green Building Council
The US Green Building Council is committed to working with organizations on the international scale to promote urban resilience and security. Resilient buildings represent the vanguard of the green economy, creating green construction jobs, saving money, and fostering healthier indoor environments. With a community comprising 79 local affiliates, 18,500 member organizations in every sector of the building industry, and 174,000 Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Professional Credential holders. USGBC is the driving force of an industry that is estimated to contribute $554 billion to the US GDP between 2009-2013.

The Greenbuild Conference attracts more than 30,000 participants, promotes environmentally responsible materials, sustainable architecture techniques and public policy. USGBC was one of the original founders of the World Green Building Council that has grown nearly 90 councils throughout the world, including the Brazilian Green Building Council. USGBC and ICLEI have sponsored a Leadership Series at the National Press Club in Washington DC on Resilience and Security in the 21st Century.

The C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group is a network of the world’s megacities committed to addressing climate change. Acting both locally and collaboratively, C40 Cities are having a meaningful global impact in reducing both greenhouse gas emissions and climate risks. Through a partnership with the Clinton Climate Initiative, C40 brings together a unique set of assets and creates a shared sense of purpose. C40 offers cities an effective forum where they can collaborate, share knowledge and drive meaningful, measurable and sustainable action on climate change.

Eye on Earth – Abu Dhabi
The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) hosted, in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the inaugural Eye on Earth Summit under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE.

At the Eye on Earth Summit two of the Special Initiatives pertained to Disaster Management and Community Sustainability and Resiliency because they represent two of the most critical issues of our time and how they can be addressed, in part, through access to environmental and societal data and information by all those who need it.

World Bank
The World Bank Group supports growth while focusing on sustainability, ensuring that the environment is a key enabler for green, more-inclusive growth. Based on extensive consultations with more than 2,300 Bank Group stakeholders throughout the world, this strategy articulates a new vision for a green, clean, and resilient world for all.

The organizations that make up the World Bank Group are owned by the governments of member nations, which have the ultimate decision-making power within the organizations on all matters, including policy issues.

Johns Hopkins University School for Advanced International Studies ERE
The Johns Hopkins University School for Advanced International Studies Energy Resources and Environment Program (SAIS ERE) has proven to be uniquely qualified to convene and connect key international leaders. One important tool in this effort is the Global Leaders Forum (GLF), a high-level speaker series that brings together critical leaders from around the world.

SAIS ERE has launched several research initiatives supported by the Rockefeller Foundation, which are exploring ways in which new partnerships can alter the direction of capital flows worth billions of US dollars to ensure inclusive, equitable, resilient, and sustainable economic growth. As part of these efforts, SAIS ERE has convened a number of international meetings involving high-level representatives from multilateral development banks, foundations, governments and the private sector.

Earth Council Alliance Rio de Janeiro Office
Created at the Earth Summit of 1992 by the then UN-Secretary General for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, Maurice Strong, the Earth Council Alliance is dedicated to promoting strategies and organizational links to promote a just, sustainable, and peaceful world. The Earth Council Alliance has been at the forefront of driving the process for resilient and sustainable infrastructure, helping to catalyze new investment flows, new whole-of-urban government approaches, and new ways to bring large scale financing to small scale projects.

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