New ISO standard for urban resilience in development

There’s no stemming the tide, so city leaders need to build resilience in order to cope. Work on a new International Standard for urban resilience, led by the United Nations, has just kicked off, aiming to help local governments build safer and more sustainable urban environments.

The development of the standard is being led by UN-Habitat, the United Nations programme for human settlements

City living is where it’s at. The top 600 cities in the world house 20 % of the global population but produce 60 % of the world’s GDP, and the numbers are growing. It is estimated that, by 2050, 68 % of us will be living in cities), increasing the scale of impact when disasters strike. Which they will. In 2018, for example, more than 17 million were displaced by sudden-onset disasters such as floods).

Work has now started on a new ISO standard for urban resilience, aimed at supporting national and local governments build their capacity to face the new challenges arising from climate change and shifting demographics. It will define a framework for urban resilience, clarify the principles and concepts, and help users to identify, implement and monitor appropriate actions to make their cities more resilient.

Read entire post New ISO standard for urban resilience in development | Clare Naden |

Slum tourism, ethics and local economic development

The importance of urban tourism as an economic activity has strongly risen in recent years. Not only have urban tourist numbers increased, but tourists also increasingly venture out in new parts of cities.

This ‘off the beaten track’ tourism offers opportunities for local economic development, particularly in economically impoverished areas. However, it can also cause disturbance and create conflicts between different groups of residents, visitors and industry actors.

The Global Urban Lectures are 15-minute lectures on themes related to sustainable urbanisation, delivered by renowned experts, UN-Habitat partners and UN-Habitat staff. The lectures have been ranked among the best MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) on cities.

How video games help keeping Tunisia resilient

Under the framework of UN-Habitat Regional Public Space Programme, serving SDG11 and its target “Providing universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, by 2030, particularly for women, children, older persons and persons with disabilities”, UN-Habitat organized the first Minecraft workshop in Djerba, Tunisia to allow the residents to express their needs for a prospective public space in Aouled Omar in Djerba.


The two-day workshop was held on 6th and 7th of April to introduce the use of Minecraft, as participatory tool for designing public spaces and engaging local citizens.

Djerba suffers from lack of water, adequate infrastructure and access to basic services, particularly safe public spaces. The prospective space is in a decentralized district of Midoun where there is a pressing need for an accessible and secure open space.

Read entire arcitle UN-Habitat organizes the first Minecraft Workshop in Djerba, Tunisia for the participatory design of a public space in Aouled Omar | UN Habitat

minecraft vs real life

UN-Habitat celebrates a decade of work in Kuwait

As part of events marking 10 years of its work in Kuwait, UN-Habitat has signed an agreement with the Boulevard which is under the Al Salmiya Group for Enterprise Development Company which to host celebratory event on Public Space March 15th and 16th in Kuwait City.

Posted on UN-Habitat

This year’s celebrations to be held at the Boulevard Park under the theme, “Public Space for Peace”, is an event intended to bring together communities to celebrate and appreeciate Kuwait by having an “International Tasting Bazaar” and celebrating the importance of having an open public space around Kuwait districts that is socially engaging and impactful.Boulevard Park is considered Sustainable due to its multipurpose setting for park goers having a library, shopping mall and restaurants with beautiful open out-door space which creates a sense of holistic well-being for guests to conduct and enjoy their daily activities.

The park has been selected due to its commitment in promoting and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals specifically SDG 11: Sustainable cities and communities advocating that a well-planned city-wide public space systems with natural green areas that are well connected can create networks to regenerate ecological systems and tackle challenges posed by climate change.

Green public space must be a key consideration in urban planning for the health of the city and its people.

Read entire article UN-Habitat celebrates a decade of work in Kuwait | UN-Habitat

Resilience in 2018 – Denis Goulet

We asked our contributors what they see for resilience in 2018:

I firmly believe Resilience must equally cover organisational, community and personal aspects. These 3 “pillars” are so interrelated that one cannot even exist without the other two.

UN-Habitat and 100 Resilient Cities are good examples of groups working to create resilient communities. Associations, virtual groups and organisations like ISO help in making organisations more resilient by the sharing of expertise and standards. Many fields in the world of psychology help understand personal resilience and even cure some of the related problems. Resilience can succeed only if all parts of the scope are covered.

Today, Resilience does not integrate entirely these 3 aspects. I sincerely hope 2018 will see a broadened acceptance of the complete scope of Resilience, including all organisational, community and personal aspects.

Smart City Expo World Congress 2017

More than ever, what happens in cities is shaping our world. The future of the world’s urban population will mostly be built in our lifetimes. The challenges we face are immense and only by working together will we be able to tackle them.
Over the next few decades, the continuing urbanization and overall growth of the world´s population is projected to add 2.5 billion people to the cities. All regions in the world are expected to urbanize further, especially in Asia and Africa, where the fastest growing cities are located.
The world is becoming even more interdependent and cities must act together across borders to deal with similar challenges: population growth, climate change, traffic congestion and pollution, lack of adequate and affordable housing, education and health, the integration of refugees and migrants into urban life, among many other pressing issues.

Empowerment has been defined as an intentional ongoing process which occurs in communities and organizations, involves active participation, critical reflection, awareness and understanding, and most difficult but important of all, the access and control over important decisions and resources, in a climate of mutual respect and caring.

Smart City Expo World Congress is committed to leveraging the implementation and follow-up of all global agendas at local and national level. The event aims to be the place to collectivize urban power, to increase the strength of cities, to identify business opportunities, to establish partnerships and contribute to enacting common policies. A place to share research, best practices and potential common solutions, achieved through effective collaboration.

How United Nations use the Minecraft video game to design public spaces in Egypt

UN-Habitat in cooperation with Megawra (The Built Environment Collective-BEC) and Cairo governorate (Cairo Heritage Preservation General Administration) organized the first Minecraft workshop in Egypt for the participatory design of an open space in Al-Khalifa neighborhood in Cairo.

Al-Khalifa neighborhood in the heritage site of Islamic Cairo is one of Egypt’s most unique areas, with estimated population of 20,085 in an area of 25,3284 m2; it’s considered one of Cairo’s most dense areas, suffering from lack of public spaces and access to basic services particularly to women and children.

Minecraft is a game where you dig (mine) and build (craft) different kinds of 3D blocks within a large world of varying terrains and habitats to explore.

I love how we can put our ideas into the game and see it come to reality

Under the framework of UN-Habitat Regional Public Space Programme, and serving SDG11 and its target “By 2030, provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, in particular for women and children, older persons and persons with disabilities” UN-Habitat is partnering with Megawra and Cairo governorate to rehabilitate an open space of 3000 m2, on two phases, in Al-Khalifa.

An area which is currently used as a garbage dump and a hub for illicit activities will be converted into a heritage and environment park for the use of the residents of the neighbourhood.

The Khalifa project, receiving a grant of 100,000$ form the global public space programme and with the guidance of UN-Habitat’s videogame expert Eugenio Gastelum, is pioneering the use of the popular Minecraft video game for the first time in Egypt as a tool to engage the community in the design process of public spaces. Around 20 community members, mainly adolescents from both genders, participated in a 3 day design workshop. “This is the first Minecraft workshop to be held in Egypt” says Safa Ashoub, Public space expert at UN-Habitat regional office for Arab states, “We are hoping to build the capacities of adolescents to be able to understand and design their public spaces and to later on utilise this useful tool for their own development” She added.

Source: UN Habitat

UN-Habitat – What is Resilience?

Globally, 80% of the largest cities are vulnerable to severe impacts from earthquakes, 60% are at risk from storm surges and tsunamis, and all face new impacts caused by climate change.

The cost of urban disasters during 2011 alone is estimated at over US $380 billion, with the largest impacts felt in Christchurch, New Zealand; Sendai, Japan; and Bangkok, Thailand. With 50% of the world’s population already in cities, and substantial urban population growth projected over the coming decades, there is a pressing need for new tools and approaches that strengthen local administrations and citizens to better protect human, economic, and natural assets of our towns and cities.

Resilience refers to the ability of human settlements to withstand and to recover quickly from any plausible hazards.

Resilience refers to the ability of human settlements to withstand and to recover quickly from any plausible hazards. Resilience against crises not only refers to reducing risks and damage from disasters (i.e. loss of lives and assets), but also the ability to quickly bounce back to a stable state. While typical risk reduction measures tend to focus on a specific hazard, leaving out risks and vulnerabilities due to other types of perils, the resilience approach adopts a multiple hazards approach, considering resilience against all types of plausible hazards. UN-Habitat’s goal is to increase the resilience of cities to the impacts of natural and human-made crises. One key pillar of this aim is ensuring that cities are able to withstand and recover quickly from catastrophic events.

Globally, 80% of the largest cities are vulnerable to severe impacts from earthquakes, 60% are at risk from storm surges and tsunamis, and all face new impacts caused by climate change.

Why resilience in cities?

Over the last decade, natural disasters affected more than 220 million people and caused economic damage of USD $100 million per year. The number of people affected by disasters since 1992 amounts to 4.4 billion people (equivalent to 64% of the world’s population), and economic damage amounts to roughly US $2.0 trillion (equivalent to 25 years of total Official Development Assistance). Cities hit by mega-disasters, such as Kobe or New Orleans, can take more than a decade to recover to their pre-disaster standards. Chronic and recurrent crises, as seen in the droughts in the Horn of Africa, require the root causes of crises be addressed, rather than only responding to the consequences.

Human-made disasters, such as conflicts and technological disasters, can also undermine the development gains of countries and cities. The number of people at risk is increasing significantly, with rapid urbanization inducing uncontrolled and densely populated informal settlements in hazard-prone areas. The lack of capacity of cities and local governments to regulate building standards and land use plans exacerbates the risk of those living in vulnerable conditions. Local governments are the closest level to citizens, and have a huge role to play in delivering critical infrastructure and services to protect lives and assets during crisis response. In sum, cities and local governments need to increase their capacity to reduce both the damage and the recovery period from any potential disaster.

What is UN-Habitat doing for resilience?

UN-Habitat’s goal is to increase the resilience of cities to the impacts of natural and human-made crises. In order to achieve this, UN-Habitat launched the City Resilience Profiling Programme (CRPP) to support local governments to build their capacity to improve resilience by developing a comprehensive and integrated urban planning and management approach, and tools for measuring and profiling city resilience to all types of hazards. A City Resilience Profile is a baseline assessment of a city-system’s ability to withstand and recover from any plausible hazard.

Source: UN-Habitat