The report stresses the importance of building cities’ resilience in the region, and develop their institutional capacities to enhance their ability to face challenges and then recover from them.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a severe test of the ability of countries and cities to withstand the unexpected, placing strain on economic, health, social, and urban infrastructures. Beyond the pandemic, natural and human-caused hazards have been increasing in frequency and scale, and that trend could continue, depending on mitigation efforts.
To prepare for the future, cities should build their urban resilience to anticipate and respond to shocks, recover quickly, and transform themselves innovatively in the face of adversities, disasters, and stresses.
The report includes a comprehensive tool that enables cities to do that, assess resilience levels and study their institutional capacities. The tool includes 131 performance indicators covering 36 key dimensions, and an institutional readiness checklist. As part of the analysis, the tool was used to assess the level of resilience in 9 major cities in the Middle East and North Africa region, including Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Amman, Kuwait City, Muscat, Riyadh, Jeddah, Casablanca, and Cairo. Strategy& selected these cities based on their levels of urbanisation and population growth, economic contribution and their business and tourism appeal.
A comparison was also done with 11 cities from different geographic regions, namely: Cape Town, Houston, London, Nairobi, Sao Paulo, Seoul, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo, Toronto, and Zurich. These cities were selected based on several criteria including urbanisation, adoption of resilience strategies, and governance structures and frameworks.
“The report provides a comprehensive interactive tool that will support governments to enhance the resilience of their cities, increase their readiness to face challenges, and launch initiatives and programs that will support their recovery in vital sectors,” said Mohamed Al Sharhan, Deputy Managing Director of the World Government Summit Organisation
Al Sharhan also adds that “the launch of the report comes within the framework of the World Government Summit partnership with leading research institutions and consultancy firms to shed light on the most prominent future trends and transformations facing governments and societies, and recommend solutions and advanced initiatives.”
“To develop resilience, decision makers must understand their city’s exposure to natural and human-caused threats,” said Dr. Raed Kombargi, Partner with Strategy& and the leader of the firm’s Energy, chemicals, and utilities practice in the Middle East. “They must then eliminate any structural vulnerabilities that might intensify the impact of a disaster in terms of basic, social, economic, and urban environment needs, through developing all required institutional capacities,” he added.
Resilient cities have eight critical features. They are anticipatory and use proactiveness and foresight to future-proof, which include developing future plans that ensure the ability of cities to withstand, mitigate and recover from the effects of shocks. They are resourceful, which secures the availability, diversity, and optimal utilisation of resources including contingency funding.
Furthermore, resilient cities are agile and can adapt to changing circumstances. They promote a participatory operating model through joint work and cooperation between the public and private sectors. Another aspect of resilient cities is their ability to be citizen-centric by providing for citizens’ needs and developing innovative and experimental plans within cities to aid recovery. They also adopt a holistic approach to deliver solutions based on their impact on systems and ensuring the ability to measure them.
The importance of cities lies in the fact that they represent the heart of the economy of countries, as they achieve economic development, innovation and growth of up to 80 per cent of the GDP, and host 55 per cent of the world’s total population, not to mention that this percentage is expected to reach 68 per cent by 2050.
According to the report, the cities of Abu Dhabi and Dubai occupied advanced resilience positions when compared to assessed cities, scoring among the top 10. The report “Time to Future Proof: A blueprint for holistic urban resilience”, highlights the efforts made by the government of Dubai in facing the pandemic caused by the COVID-19 virus. It also showcases the city’s ability to control the spread of the virus, and reduce its effects on both the short and long run by launching several initiatives and programs, and adopting different governance models.
MENA cities face several major hazards such as climate change, landslides, pollution and cybersecurity, and many others. They also face various vulnerabilities such as emergency care, social protection, and inclusion, and localisation of supply chains, among others. These challenges can be tackled by developing comprehensive resilience blueprints and plans for infrastructure development to achieve great results.
The report recommends a set of steps and measures that cities in the Middle East and North Africa could focus on during the next phase, and which would aid in devising their customised urban resilience blueprints.
These cities should assess the extent of their exposure to natural and human-caused hazards and address areas that need to be developed to minimise their vulnerabilities across basic needs, the economy, the society and the urban environment. This may involve for example increasing reliance on local production of basic commodities necessary to ensure their sufficiency in emergency situations, providing comprehensive health care coverage and social safety nets, and redressing budget shortcomings and areas that need development at the financial level.
Consequently, cities will need to strengthen their institutional capacities that will help them address their hazards and vulnerabilities. These come in the form of strategies or policies, governance and partnerships, capabilities and processes, delivery of public services, financing, and data and systems.
For instance, it is likely that some countries will benefit from increased decentralisation and the level of autonomy of cities in decision-making, given the size of these countries and the large differences in the level of exposure to risks and areas that need development in the main cities. Also, investing in advanced capabilities, data and systems is critical, such as foresight and early warning systems, utilisation of real-time, big and open data, and integrated whole-of-government e-systems.
Through appropriate investment and increasing of their institutional capabilities, cities in the region can enhance their readiness for future challenges and achieve the highest levels of response, recovery and transformation.
The World Government Summit recently announced the signing of 9 new knowledge partnerships with a selection of the most prominent consulting firms and global research institutions, to launch a series of reports and studies that will identify the most important trends and opportunities for governments to focus on the next phase, and for them to enhance their readiness for the future in a post-pandemic world.
The reports focus on anticipating the future of governments around the world, studying global transformations and challenges facing the world, setting priorities and requirements for the next phase, and developing new work mechanisms and methodologies based on modern data to empower the next generation of governments.
To download the report, please visit the following link https://www.worldgovernmentsummit.org/observer/resilience-tool
To try the interactive tool, please visit the following link https://resilience.worldgovernmentsummit.org/