By Andy McElroy
INCHEON, 9 April 2015 – Disaster risk reduction has entered the exciting world of E-learning with the launch of an on-line course aimed at officials and practitioners working to strengthen urban resilience.
The new course – ‘Urban Risk Reduction: Developing and Implementing Resilience Action Plans for Cities’ – was unveiled at the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction to boost the implementation of UNISDR’s Making Cities Resilient campaign.
More than 300 DRR policymakers and practitioners from around the world applied to be part of the first intake and the 30 selected started Module 1 this week (see below).
The course, jointly developed by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) and the UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), has been piloted in 13 countries in response to demand from local governments wanting to boost their capacity to implement the Campaign’s Ten Essentials.
The Executive Director of UNITAR, Ms Sally Fegan-Wyles, said the training would contribute to building safer and more resilient communities.
“As part of UNITAR's efforts to strengthen the capacities of government officials to better cope with disasters and enhance city resilience, it is our pleasure to offer this e-learning course jointly with UNISDR. We invite you to learn, share your experiences and develop your city's action plan throughout this course,” she said at the launch.
“It is possible to reduce the risk of disasters and to build resilient communities but it requires a joint effort of governments, civil society, private sector, donor agencies and the international community. It is everyone’s task to contribute to minimize the risks that may threaten human security.”
The Head of UNISDR’s DRR Coordination Section, Mr Neil McFarlane, joined Ms Fegan-Wyles in heralding the course as an important part of future efforts to strengthen local capacity.
“We welcome you to this e-learning course that aims to provide authorities with tools to manage disaster risk and contribute to the definition of policies and plans,” Mr McFarlane said.
Poorly planned urban development and land use is one of the main drivers of disaster risk. According to UN-Habitat, more than 379 million urban residents live at risk of river flooding, 283 million from earthquakes, and 157 million from strong winds.
The course methodology, developed by UNISDR’s Global Education and Training Institute (GETI), based in Incheon, Korea, uses tools such as the Local Government Self-Assessment Tool (LG-SAT) and the Resilience Scorecard to help in the development of a City Resilience Action Plan.
The course accompanies direct capacity support from UNISDR and aims to increase access and flexibility and lower costs of such support. The post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction is expected to highlight strengthening local capacity as one of the key elements for strengthening disaster resilience.
The 10-week course was showcased at the ‘Capacity Development for Implementing Cities Resilience Action Plans’ event, at the World Conference, in Sendai, Japan. It has eight modules (see below), is free and started yesterday. Participants will need to spend six hours a week on the material.
The course is open to city and local government officials, disaster management professionals, and representatives from academic and training institutions working on disaster risk reduction.
A moderator guides participants through all the learning material, which is presented through various media including text, graphs, images and video material, interactive lessons, practical exercises, discussion forums, exercises and quizzes.
For those interested in applying in future, please register at: www.unitar.org/event/urbanrisk
Module 1: Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) concepts and introduction to current trends
Module 2: Making Cities Resilient (MCR) global campaign and tools
Module 3: DRR assessment and analysis tools (LG-SAT and Resilience Scorecard Tools)
Module 4 Part I: Mainstreaming DRR into sectoral programmes (governance, financing DRR, infrastructure, climate change adaptation, education and health)
Module 4 Part II: Mainstreaming DRR into sectoral programmes (housing and Land Use Planning, Ecosystems and Environment, Livelihoods)
Module 5: Developing, implementing, monitoring & evaluating resilient city action plans
Module 6: Developing a strategy for scaling-up resilient city action plans
Module 7: Hyogo Framework for Action and post-2015 framework for DRR