Greater Manchester shares best practice on disaster risk reduction with Central Asian cities

Source(s)
United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction - Regional Office for Europe & Central Asia
Making Cities Resilient 2030 (MCR2030)
Participants at MCR2030 peer exchange
Helena Monteiro/ UNDRR

Implementing the 10 point checklist of the Making Cities Resilient 2030 initiative at the local level to reduce disaster risk.

Central Asian city representatives discussed disaster risk management and preparedness with Greater Manchester authorities last week, including lessons learnt in the British city from handling severe winter weather, floods and other emergencies.

With a population of nearly 3 million people, Greater Manchester’s 2020-2030 Resilience Strategy puts communities at its heart. It explores common hazards such as infectious diseases, river flooding, industrial accidents, loss of basic services and malicious activity such as terrorism. 

Organised by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), the visit was part of a wider EU-funded project supporting Central Asian cities to build disaster resilience. Worth EUR 3.75 million, the project is called “Strengthening disaster resilience and accelerating the implementation of the Sendai Framework for disaster risk reduction in Central Asia”. 

The visit by officials from Kazakhstan and Tajikistan was hosted by Greater Manchester’s Resilience Unit under Making Cities Resilient 2030 (MCR2030), a global partnership to enhance urban resilience, which includes cities from around the world, including Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and the UK. 

Greater Manchester’s approach to resilience has partnership as its foundation and the Central Asian guests met with representatives from many of Greater Manchester’s emergency responders, local government, other public and private sector bodies, together with academic experts. Greater Manchester’s Fire and Rescue Services and other experts too. 

Greater Manchester as a role model for disaster risk management

Focused on sharing knowledge with other cities and fostering joint learning, Greater Manchester was one of the first Resilience Hubs to be recognised in Europe. Sharon Miller, Senior Policy Advisor,  welcomed the Central Asian guests to Greater Manchester by underlining the importance of collaboration within the MCR2030 network. 

“We have an opportunity not only to work with citizens in our own cities but also with societies and their leaders elsewhere in the world, learning from others and contributing to the development of global good practice.”  Yelnar Baziken, Head of the Center for Urbanism from Astana, Kazakhstan, echoed the emphasis on working together within the network, saying  the visit had been very stimulating: “We are delighted to collaborate with our colleagues from Greater Manchester, a major British city, and to share the lessons that we have learned.”

Sulaimon Shamsizoda, Head of the Department of Emergency Situations and Civil Defence from Dushanbe, Tajikistan, said: "Meetings and discussions in Greater Manchester provided us with an insight into the practices of a large city to strengthen partnerships among all stakeholders in disaster resilience, establish and improve coordination mechanisms and use modern digital technology in the field. The Manchester experience has shown us how we can implement the plans we are developing to improve our city's resilience to various disasters".

Participants in Bury, Greater Manchester, at the Training and Safety Centre, the largest Fire-Fighter training facility in the UK.

From Central Asia to the United Kingdom: the main challenges

The Central Asian visitors discussed Greater Manchester’s resilience, using a city-designed and MCR2030-promoted framework as a reference. Topics included the links between national and local government and the importance of action at all levels. The meeting also discussed the importance of maintaining relationships between local partners, emergency responders, and voluntary groups. 

Different cities face different disaster risks, but the visitors had fruitful conversations with their hosts about risk assessment, and about how these risks are understood by city leaders and shared with citizens. 

There was a particular focus on climate change and the impact of severe weather risks. The visitors heard how the UK’s meteorological service has been improving early warning systems over the last 40 years, coordinating with emergency responders to enable better planning and preparation ahead of climate related events. 

This knowledge exchange included visits to see particular aspects of Greater Manchester’s resilience-building activities. The visitors toured a new development, including the first urban park to be created in Greater Manchester for 100 years. They also visited a park that has been transformed in consultation with the local community. Packed with nature-based solutions the park ‘drinks water’ and helps to protect the residents from flooding during heavy rainfall.

The importance of working with communities was underlined as visitors heard about a new programme of work, the National Consortium for Societal Resilience, being led by the University of Manchester in liaison with local resilience partnerships across the UK.

Greater Manchester has experienced its fair share of emergencies. In 2017 a terrorist attack killed 22 people and injured over 1,000. The visitors discussed the emergency response and how the bombing left long-lasting psychological and mental health impacts which need to be considered in any disaster recovery. Five years later, Greater Manchester’s Resilience Hub continues to provide psychosocial and mental health support to people affected by the attack.

In wrapping up the visit, Dr Kathy Oldham, Greater Manchester’s Chief Resilience Officer commented “the opportunity to share knowledge between cities is vitally important. Many of the challenges we face are global in nature, affecting many cities simultaneously, and by working together we can understand how to prepare for future issues and how to find effective solutions”.  

The visit and the wider UNDRR-EU project contribute to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 11 (SDG 11) “Make cities and human settlements safe, resilient, and sustainable” as well as to the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, Paris Agreement, Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development, and the New Urban Agenda too.  

Notes to editors: 

The EU-funded project “Strengthening disaster resilience and accelerating the implementation of Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction in Central Asia'', implemented by UNDRR, supports countries in the region to implement Sendai Framework priorities. The project supports the strengthening of regional coordination mechanisms, the development of a regional disaster risk reduction strategy, national disaster loss accounting systems, and community-level disaster risk reduction. At the local level, the project supports the development of disaster resilience strategies in capital cities. The EU committed EUR 3,750,000 for the three-year implementation of the project.

About UNDRR UNDRR sits at the centre of the UN system for reducing risk, coordinating risk reduction activities towards a more resilient future, and protecting gains made towards the Sustainable Development Goals. Covering 55 countries, its Europe and Central Asia supports the development of policies and actions towards a more resilient future. We assist countries to monitor and track achievements towards implementing the Sendai Framework, support the development of national and local DRR strategies, build greater engagement with the private sector, and provide policy advice, particularly around sustainable finance and climate security. UNDRR hosts the Secretariat of MCR2030 which has eleven core partners.

About MCR2030 MCR2030 is a United Nations-led global collaboration of partners committed to support local governments to strengthen their disaster resilience. MCR2030 has mobilized more than 1,300 local governments representing a population of over 380 million as part of this unique cross-stakeholder initiative that is improving local resilience by making cities safer, preventing risks and promoting innovation and investments. MCR2030 welcomes cities, local governments as well as any other parties wishing to help municipalities prosper through advocacy, knowledge-sharing and city-to-city networks.  

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