Dan Lewis

Chief Director of UN-Habitat. Urban Risk Reduction Unit. City Resilience Profiling Programme (CRPP)

Designing Resilience Strategies for Coastal Cities

June 27, 2016
 | Time: 
11:00 AM

Understanding how cities function as systems of inter-dependent, integrated elements is crucial to understanding how resilience based planning, development and management can protect life, assets and maintain continuity of functions through any plausible shocks and/or stresses.

The CRPP goes beyond conventional approaches to ‘risk reduction’, delivering a forward-looking, multi-sectoral, multi-hazard, multi-stakeholder model for building resilience that recognizes the complexities and unique value of cities, and the inherent interdependencies of each part of an urban system.

The programme provides methodologies, metrics and tools for analyzing the resilience of any urban system regardless of its size, economy, culture, geographic region or hazard profile.  It operates from the value principles of:

1.    Protecting people: Reducing injury to, and loss of lives

2.    Protecting assets and development gains: Reducing direct and indirect economic losses

3.    Protecting continuity of functions: Ensuring processes and flows of public and private services through any potential crises impacting cities throughout the world.

With this background, it is clear that cities around the world benefit from enhancing normal urban planning, development and management with resilience focused action planning can, in time build their resilience to all shocks and stresses.

Nowhere is this more critical than in urban environments exposed to the opposing forces and critical hazards associated with urbanization and climate change in coastal cities.  According to some sources, roughly 45% of the global population lives within 150 km of the sea.  Rates of urbanization of coastal cities are among the highest and driving dense urban extensions usually on the landward side of coastal cities. The implications for social hazards to emerge as conflict over high-value land for coastal retreat development corridors resulting from sea-level rise, are dire; even expected in some parts of the world.

The absence of long term re-visioning of city development strategies, planning out risk (of all types) and building in resilience, is an area of focus for a growing community of practice on urban resilience.  The common ground for many is supporting local authorities ambitions to keep their populations safe, protect both public and private assets, and to maintain critical functions of their cities regardless of the array of hazards they face now or in the future.

  1. UN Atlas of Oceans (to be properly referenced)

Dan Lewis is the Chief of the Urban Risk Reduction Unit, UN-Habitat, Kenya. He has worked for UN-Habitat since 1997 based in Somalia, Kosovo and Nairobi, and has managed the global portfolio of disaster and conflict related work of the Agency since 2002. Lewis is currently leading the development of the UN-Habitat City Resilience Profiling Programme, a global programme designing new standards for measuring and monitoring urban resilience. The City Resilience Profiling Programme (CRPP), and its associated projects and team, are based in the Risk Reduction Unit’s programme office in Barcelona, Spain.

As a civil engineer and private consultant, he has worked in urban reconstruction and housing programmes in South Africa and Chile as well as with First Nations communities in his home region on Vancouver Island, Canada since 1987.