Disaster planning key to mass urban migration

Building resilience to natural disasters and economic crises is the key to successfully coping with mass urban migration, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said on the occasion of World Cities Day.

The theme of this year’s World Cities Day was Building Sustainable and Resilient Cities, which UN Secretary-General António Guterres addressed directly in his message commemorating the event. “Hazards do not need to become disasters,” Guterres said. “The answer is to build resilience – to storms, floods, earthquakes, fires, pandemics and economic crises”.

According to the UN chief, this is precisely what some cities around the world are doing. For example, Bangkok has built vast underground water storage facilities to cope with increased flood risk and save water for drier periods. In Quito, local government has reclaimed or protected more than 200,000 hectares of land to boost flood protection, reduce erosion and safeguard the city’s freshwater supply.

However, with some 1.4 million people migrating to cities on a weekly basis and some three in five cities worldwide with populations over 500,000 at a “high risk” of a natural disaster, “investing in resilience is a wise investment”, said Maimunah Mohd Sharif, Executive Director of the UN Habitat.

Image credit: Freedom II Andres via Flickr

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