On June 16th – 17th 2016, The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) organized in the city of Florence a High Level Forum gathering Ministers, Mayors, policymakers, local government authorities, private sector, experts and partners from across the world with interest and engagement to promote the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction at local and community levels. The Sendai Framework was adopted at the Third UN World Conference on DRR in March 2016 and incorporated into the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as it aims to achieve the substantial reduction of disaster risk in terms of human lives and in the economic, physical, social, cultural and environmental assets of persons, businesses, communities and countries over the next 15 years.
The High Level Forum comes 50 years after the Italian city was devastated by floods which killed 101 people and caused tremendous damage to heritage buildings and arts. In the two days, more than 350 participants from around the world discussed the importance of urban resilience to disasters, governance, options and good practices of how to address the increased impacts of natural and man-made hazards in cities and World Heritage properties. The event included a showcase of the Italian risk awareness campaign “I don’t take risks” by the Italian Civil Protection which was launched in 2011 and a guided visit to the monumental complex of Santa Croce – a masterpiece that has been hit by 55 floods since the 13th century – to acknowledge the consequences of flooding in cultural heritage.
Governments are responsible for the effective implementation of the Sendai Framework at city and community level. Prevention through training, information and public awareness are crucial to protect the precious life of inhabitants exposed by potential risks such as floods, earthquakes or tsunamis. Prior investment in precautionary measures, better urban planning policies to build back better, scientific applied research and more public and private partnerships are also critical elements in a resilient city.
Countries are not immune to the danger of floods, in fact flood risk is a major concert to at least 250 cities across the world affecting million inhabitants every year. Based on historic records and lessons learned, cities required a change of approach to address risk. For instance, Florence has launched a “zero volume” policy which will prevent building any new construction in the city and encourage rebuilding on existing sites respecting the same volume and space to better protect the environment.
The importance of international agreements (i.e. the Sendai Framework for DRR, the Sustainable Development Goals –SDGs, and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change) for transforming the manner in which human settlements develop into safe, equitable, resilient and sustainable cities plays a key role globally.
Among the distinguished guests who were present in the event were Mr. Robert Glasser, the UN Secretary General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction, Mr. Kiren Rijiju, India’s Home Affairs Minister, Mr. Dario Nardella, Mayor of Florence, Fabrizio Curcio, Head of the Italian Civil Protection Department, Ms. Paola Albrito, European Regional Chief of UNISDR and Nicola Valluzzi, President and “Community Champion” for Disaster Risk Reduction of Potenza.
The important workshop was a very valuable and interesting experience for WARREDOC students and research associates that participated for understanding DRR towards the UN 2030 Agenda and meeting international experts for tailoring this debate towards the implementation of WARREDOC mission and goals.
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