As the developing world continues to rapidly urbanize, greater stresses on resources and city systems and higher population concentrations in disaster-prone regions are compounding risks for safety, economic stability, and sustainable growth – with the effects of climate change only exacerbating these hazards.

However, cities seeking support to address challenges like these often find it difficult to navigate the development landscape, with international partners offering cities varying levels of time and financial commitments, as well as often very different approaches and methodologies.

The Medellin Collaboration on Urban Resilience

To better harmonize approaches on urban resilience, UN-Habitat, UNISDR, the World Bank, the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR), the Inter-American Development Bank, C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, the Rockefeller Foundation, 100 Resilient Cities, and ICLEI came together at the 7th World Urban Forum (WUF7) in Colombia to form the Medellin Collaboration on Urban Resilience.

Under the Collaboration, these nine international partners will develop common definitions and metrics of urban shocks and stresses, clarify the menu of services available to cities, and catalyze cities’ access to finance for resilience-enhancing investment.

“There has been a tremendous outpouring of support for urban resilience in recent years,” said Margareta Wahlström, UN Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction. “This new collaboration represents a consolidation of those efforts as we prepare for an explosion of urbanization in the 21st century, when more urban space will be created than at any time in history. Over half the world’s population now lives in urban areas and this will grow dramatically in the coming generation. We must prepare for it.”

GFDRR’s Support for Resilient Cities

This joint effort aligns with the mission of GFDRR to use disaster and climate information to engage developing countries and assist in managing and reducing risk. Through the World Bank’s Resilient Cities program, GFDRR is supporting a multi-year initiative to help cities strengthen their ability to adapt to changing conditions, and to withstand and recover rapidly from disruptions related to climate change, natural disasters, and other systemic shocks.

“For the developing world, this will be the century of urbanization,” said Francis Ghesquiere, Head of the GFDRR Secretariat. “This creates huge opportunities, but also many challenges, including the concentration of vulnerable populations and the risk of major disasters. Through the Medellin Collaboration on Urban Resilience, we and other partners are committing to provide cities with the support they need to improve urban planning and investment, and become more resilient.”

Since inception, GFDRR has promoted urban resilience through capacity building, technical and analytical products, and implementation support, such as its recently published Open Data for Resilience (OpenDRI) Field Guide and investment planning efforts like that in Manila, Philippines, where GFDRR supported the creation of a flood risk management master plan for structural mitigation investments.

Through lessons learned from these and other programs, GFDRR will continue to leverage partnerships like the Medellin Collaboration on Urban Resilience to mainstream disaster risk reduction practices throughout global development efforts.

GFDRR teams up with the UN, Rockefeller Foundation, and others to build urban resilience.

(From Left) Michael Berkowitz (100 Resilient Cities), Joan Clos (UN-Habitat), Margareta Wahlström (UNISDR), Judith Rodin (Rockefeller Foundation), Stephen Hammer (World Bank), Kathryn Vines (C40 Cities), Catherine Lynch (World Bank), James Newman (GFDRR), and Andres Blanco (IDB)

The full text of the collaboration can be found here.

Photos Courtesy of UN Habitat & UNISDR