Author: Dra. Daniella Gasperin, Consultant for the "Veranópolis Cidade Resiliente" program, Veranópolis City Hall. MCR2030 Initiative Team for the Americas and the Caribbean

Veranópolis: building strategic alliances to enhance resilience and well-being in the city

Source(s): United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction – Regional Office for the Americas and the Caribbean

Veranópolis is a city located in the state of Rio Grande do Sul. The city is approximately 700 meters above sea level and, due to its location in southern Brazil, has a subtropical climate and is vulnerable to adverse events such as hail, storms, floods, droughts and cold weather. As a result, in recent years Veranópolis has been at the center of several disasters and, although the municipality has adopted measures to deal with them, recent administrations have been analyzing and adopting preventive strategies to deal with these events.

"Veranópolis Cidade Resiliente"

In 2021, the Municipality of Veranópolis, under the coordination of the Secretary of Social Development, Housing and Longevity, started working on the Veranópolis Cidade Resiliente project, which aims to provide the community with active participation and an inclusive and participatory response capacity in the face of adversities.

The project consists of a series of plans that, together, seek to raise awareness of disaster risk reduction and climate resilience. One of these projects is the Risk Management Plan, which aims to: i) plan how identified risks should be managed, rated and prioritized so that they remain under control; ii) maximize the results of positive events; and iii) minimize the impacts of negative events.

To achieve these objectives, the municipality conducted a qualitative and quantitative analysis of the risks identified in its jurisdiction and proceeded to identify and classify them by levels according to their probability and consequence. The results of these actions were materialized in an analysis matrix where the severity, urgency and trend of each event were established, identifying hail, drought and landslide events as priorities. Based on these priorities, an action plan was drawn up for each risk, which is being disseminated in the city through social measures and the delivery of material to the population.

Mental health care as a resilience factor in the context of Covid-19

In addition to the adoption of tools for climate risk management, Veranópolis has tried to seek new approaches around building resilience in its city, as reflected in the leadership of the Secretary of Social Development, Housing and Longevity for the implementation of resilience actions. Thus, during the Covid-19 pandemic, for example, the city, showing innovative thinking in order to safeguard the public health of its citizens in a comprehensive manner, created the "Quality-of-Life: Knowing your Feelings" Project, which was focused on improving the mental health of the population.

The starting point of the project was the strengthening of the link with the community and the sensitization of individuals so that they could know and deal with their feelings, thus improving their capacity to adapt to adversity. To achieve its objectives, the municipality sought to form strategic alliances with various organizations, including private companies.

These partnerships have yielded very successful results: between March and May 2021, the project reached 200 participants, who attended a series of online classes and training sessions. Of these, 150 were students between the ages of 11 and 13, and the remaining 50 were teachers. In June, an article was prepared compiling the experiences and results titled Strategic Planning of Resilient and regenerative Cities: A Case study on how new generations may contribute, which was presented at the 18th edition of the International Conference on Innovation and Management and subsequently published in the Journal on Innovation and Sustainability. In 2022, the project continues and has already reached 250 participants.

The Quality-of-Life Project has shown that not only is it urgent to adopt a systemic vision of resilience, but it is also important to recognize that resilience has a direct connection with public health and, therefore, emphasis must be placed on citizens, both collectively and individually. Likewise, the results obtained have reflected the need to consider the environment as an important factor in risk management, since the effects on it are intimately interconnected with this agenda and must be taken into account in order to improve the way in which adversities are faced.

Strengthening local resilience: Veranópolis' experience in MCR2030

Over the past 10 years, Veranópolis has been taking countless actions concerning infrastructure improvement, land use regulations and plans, as well as community recovery and reconstruction. In order to continue with these actions and to have experts guiding this trajectory, in August of this year, Veranópolis joined the MCR2030 initiative.

Since joining, the city has been incorporating the tools made available to cities as part of the initiative, such as the "Ten Essentials for Making Cities Resilient", which set a horizon in the elaboration of the Municipal Action Plan (2020-2024); or the use of the MCR2030 Dashboard to understand the progress of actions carried out. The locality has also benefited from the exchange of experiences among peers, participating in three different days of discussions that have increased its knowledge and improved its resilience and inclusiveness approach.

According to Veranópolis, the MCR2030 experience has enabled the city to work on taking its first steps to prepare for its long-term resilience journey by formulating and implementing a disaster risk reduction and resilience strategy.

Sustaining an increasingly cross-cutting resilience agenda

In relation to risk management, the city's goal is to promote trainings on prevention, preparedness, response and monitoring of risks that the locality may face. Regarding resilience, the goal is to continue with those projects that have already been implemented and have yielded positive results. In terms of climate adaptation, the municipality is looking for ways to address both new and old problems in order to achieve lower losses and greater resilience.

In order to achieve these objectives, Veranópolis is focusing on the development of three specific projects with a view to 2023: (i) a new Veranópolis Cidade Resiliente project whose focus is on raising awareness among residents regarding the production, separation and destination of their solid waste; (ii) the Education Project, whose mission is to achieve the integration of disaster risk reduction with issues related to the negative consequences of global events and climate change through academic training programs, and (iii) the Simulates Project, which seeks to carry out practical simulations in schools and implement health strategies in families, for which a committee has been formed to prepare the Municipal Fire and Evacuation Plan.

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