16 June, New York – With over 2400 participants from about 149 countries and territories, the first session was held on June 8, focusing on welcome, overall course introduction and key theme introduction of the joint certification programme. Under the theme of “Build back better: Harnessing South-South cooperation and risk reduction planning for resilient and healthy cities in the post COVID-19 era”, this four-week certified online training workshop will be held through June 2021 every Tuesday, aiming to support local authorities and urban development practitioners gain perspectives and improve capabilities in post-COVID-19 restoration and reconstruction. The joint training has received over 4500 registrations from over 160 countries and territories.
In the first session of the training, disaster risk reduction, health emergency response and preparedness, and South-South Triangular cooperation was introduced, and knowledge was shared on these with the participants. It began with welcome remarks from the three agencies, UNDRR GETI, UNOSSC and WHO.
Ms. Loretta Hieber Girardet, Chief, Risk Knowledge, Monitoring and Capacity Development Branch (RKB) of UNDRR said, “Disaster risk governance requires clear vision, plans, competence, guidance and coordination within and across sectors, and full engagement with civil society”. She emphasized that the challenges we face to build safer, resilient, and sustainable cities have been long-discussed and are needed to be resolved via joint efforts.
Ms. Xiaojun Grace Wang, Deputy Director of UNOSSC shared that South-South and triangular cooperation abide a demand-driven approach, and UNOSSC collects demands and needs from all levels and sectors and provides them with a platform for knowledge sharing and technical exchanges. “COVID-19 has swept away decades of progress made towards sustainable development and cities have been at the centerstage of the facing the significant impact” said Ms. Xiaojun Grace Wang further stressing it is important to build back better, greener and more resilient cities and urban areas.
“Cities can be hotbeds for infectious diseases like COVID-19 and not all cities are created equal. Forty percent of the world’s population do not have access to soap and water and therefore cannot take the most basic precaution against COVID-19,” said Dr. Gaya Gamhewage, Head of Learning and Capacity Development for WHO Health Emergency & Lead for Strategy WHO Academy. While recognizing the challenges confronting the global community, she highlighted WHO’s operational role in response to COVID-19, wherein they are leading 23 UN agencies, and delivered 18 million PCR lab COVID-19 tests, 201 million face masks and 67 million gloves to date. Further Dr. Gaya presented on the role and implications of equity at the core of health emergency response and preparedness and urban health. She stressed on the necessity of cities to be prepared and resilient against all hazards, including biological, chemical, radio-nuclear, and natural disasters. She mentioned that a multisector approach is essential to build resilience. Because local and municipal authorities have easy access to their communities, they are at the center of health emergency preparedness. Preparedness must be seen as an investment and not an expenditure.
Mr. Sanjaya Bhatia, Head of Global Education and Training Institute (GETI), UNDRR, introduced in detail the concept of disaster risk reduction and the Making Cities Resilient 2030 (MCR2030), a global coalition of urban resilience partners aiming to support local governments in improving their resilience to risk. “There is no such thing as a natural disaster only natural hazard, because whether it becomes a disaster or not depends on the choices we make and our behavior” said Mr. Bhatia in his presentation. He pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates that cities need to transit to a “new normal”. But local authorities can use this as an opportunity to shape new and innovative policies that strengthen health systems, improve social protection, pursue climate-friendly solutions, and continue on the pathway towards resilience. Local governments are encouraged to join the MCR2030 and have access to variety of tools and support from partners on this resilience pathway.
Dr. Denis Nkala, Asia-Pacific Regional Coordinator of UNOSSC, systematically introduced the development of UNOSSC, principles and modalities of South-South and triangular cooperation and the significant contribution of South-South Cooperation in COVID-19 Response. He also shared, in 2021 about 235 million people will need humanitarian assistance, and most of the countries requiring this assistance due to conflict, disasters, disease and natural hazards are in the global South and thus, South-South Cooperation’s role is important in the humanitarian system. He emphasized that South-South and triangular cooperation must be institutionalized by establishing mechanisms and creating legal and policy frameworks to deliver more inclusive and sustainable results.
The second session of the training was held on June 15, with a focus on the utilization of the Public Health System Resilience Addendum (PHA) of the Disaster Resilience Scorecard for Cities in strengthening the integration of public health issues in disaster risk reduction and resilience planning. The session began with the introduction of the tool, followed by the practical example shared by Makati City, the Philippines, and ended with a short quiz to test the learning of participants.
Ms. Mutarika Pruksapong, Programme Management Officer of Global Education and Training Institute (GETI), UNDRR, mentioned in her presentation, “the Public Health Scorecard Addendum is a tool to help cities ensure the issues of public health including the pandemics are not overlooked when considering resilience planning. It is mapped against the Ten Essentials for Making Cities Resilient which helps cities to look beyond the immediate emergency response and recovery into a medium- and longer-term planning allowing also to enhance city’s risk governance system and engagement with other development sectors.” She emphasized that building a multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder mechanism for supporting the pandemic management is essential for cities to becoming resilient.
The city of Makati, in addition to being the financial center of the Philippines, is also famous for its good track record in making improving resilience against disasters. Ms. Liza Velle B. Ramos, Research and Planning Head at the Makati Disaster Risk Reduction and Management office, shared the good practices and experiences that Makati has been accumulating in disaster risk reduction and management.
Ms. Velle B. Ramos shared in depth on how Makati utilized the Public Health Scorecard Addendum to identify gaps and actions needed in responding to COVID-19 and guided the development of the recently published Makati City’s Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Health Plan and a systematic COVID-19 recovery plan to manage the uncertainty brought by the pandemic and ensure efficient continuity and sustainable recovery. She also highlighted the city’s efforts in resilience building process through the Making Cities Resilient Campaign in the past decade and now the MCR2030, resulting in significant achievements particularly in working with city partners and including multi-stakeholders in enhancing city resilience.
To further improve the understanding of the participants towards the end of this session, five quiz questions were given by the end of this session.
For more information about the next sessions and the programme, please click here