The Risk of Improper Disaster Risk Planning

Our last aspect in exploring inclusive sustainable cities was disaster risk reduction and disaster management. This subject is important when considering cities because of their huge populations, so there needs to be precautionary plans to anticipate natural disasters or emergencies and to also have the resiliency and adaptation to recover from these situations and hopefully prevent them. Risk reduction refers to the practice of reducing disaster risks through efforts to analyze and reduce the causal factors of disasters. It involves a combination of hazard (frequency, magnitude, location), exposure (who is at risk), and vulnerability (susceptibility of an individual to be impacted by hazards). Risk management on the other hand is the application of disaster risk reduction policies and strategies that aim to prevent new disaster risks, reduce existing risks, manage residual risks, and strengthen the resilience and reduction of losses. There are three main categories risk management falls under: prospective, corrective, and compensatory. Inclusive disaster risk reduction and management takes all these steps further by making sure all people — those with disabilities, youth, elderly, etc. — are able to be prepared and included in plans. All aspects from first responders, to alerts, to evacuation need to be able to adapt and help with all people to ensure their safety. Continue reading

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Monitoring Inclusive Sustainable Cities Through the WUF

Our class had the opportunity to further delve into inclusive, sustainable cities as we learned about the World Urban Forum, or WUF. The WUF is convened by UN Habitat and is a world conference on cities in a non-legislative forum. The last one, WUF9, was held in Kuala Lumpur in February 2018. WUF10 will be held in Abu Dhabi in 2020. This forum is crucial because it meets more frequently — every two years — versus Habitat where UNGA and all the participants involved with that meet every twenty years. Habitat III helped set the stage for the New Urban Agenda (NUA), where it has a series of long-term visions, commitments, and implementations countries will use to further develop of smart cities and ensure everyone has a right to the city. WUF acts as a checkpoint to see the progress of whatever happens at Habitat, and in this case, it is the NUA from Habitat III. Continue reading

Development Theory and Actors: An Understanding of Development

The readings from this previous week delved into the first chapters of Development as Freedom by Amartya Sen and International Development Studies by Sumner and Tribe. Amartya gives an initial overview as to what freedom means in development and how current indicators value policies and individual well being. He discussed how evaluative purposes should be based on substantive freedoms that consider functionings and capabilities. Functionings are certain things a person may value doing or being, such as being free of disease. Capabilities are the combinations of those functionings feasible for a person to achieve, and that capability represents the freedom to achieve. Freedom has two parts: the processes that allow for it and the opportunities people have. You can define a more developed society based on how much access to these freedoms (health care, education, employment, etc.) a person has. The World Economic Forum published an article back in 2016 where the New Economics Foundation attempted Continue reading

Breaking Down the Sustainable Development Goals and HLPF

As we have learned in class, the Sustainable Development Goals has seventeen goals — set with targets and indicators — addressing global challenges with inclusive and sustainable solutions for all. To assess the progress of these goals, the UN High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development meets annually and also allows major groups and stakeholders to speak and recommend certain actions during the forum. While Sen’s readings for this past week were prior to the implementation of the SDGs, he highlights certain areas that are intrinsic to freedom and development that are also featured within some of the major goals. He touches upon challenges in development, such as eliminating endemic deprivation and preventing severe destitution, which coincides with SDGs 1 and 2 on eliminating poverty and hunger. He also emphasizes the agency role of women that impacts infant survival, reduces fertility rates, and empowers women through education and employment. The UN has a similar page that also highlights the benefits of economic empowerment for women, including increased organizational effectiveness and growth in businesses as well as overall productivity.

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Making Cities Inclusive

This week’s readings focused on inclusive smart cities, Habitat III and the New Urban Agenda. The New Urban Agenda, or NUA, was a document adopted at the UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, or Habitat III (Habitat III). Habitat III took place in Quito, Ecuador in October 2016. Some of the main highlights in the document include readdressing the way cities and human settlements are planned, designed, and financed. It highlights a saying called “right to the city”, meaning that all inhabitants have a right to the public goods, facilities, and resources where they live. There should be equal means of access and opportunity. The document then lists several different paragraphs affirming their commitments and implementations, such as supporting local governments to determine their management structures in line with national policies. The US can take NUA and integrate its goals with US cities. An article by Matthew Cohen and Geoffrey Habron suggested that NUA can be incorporated into existing frameworks like the Sustainability Tools for Assessing and Rating Communities (STAR) to help improve areas such as equity. I think looking into how NUA has been applied to other cities in the US would be beneficial to understand our progress on inclusion in the last three years. Continue reading