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OPM India to host a session on ‘Smart, Safe, and Resilient Cities’

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At the Global Inclusive Disaster Management Conference (10-11 July)

Divya Sharma

Studies suggest that incidences of extreme events due to climate change will gradually increase in both intensity and frequency, especially in urban areas. There is a strong need to look at innovative mechanisms, both structural and institutional, that can drive resilience building in the cities.

In this context, we at OPM, as a knowledge partner to the Global Inclusive Disaster Management Conference, are going to host a session on smart, safe, and resilient cities. The conference is being organised by Iconex Exhibitions in New Delhi on 10 and 11 July 2018. Our session theme underlines one of the most important considerations for urban practitioners and planners in the wake of adverse impacts of climate change and increasing incidences of natural disasters.

India is one of the five countries hit by the highest number of disasters - United States (472), China (441), India (288), Philippines (274), and Indonesia, (163). In India, extreme weather events can quickly lead to dozens of deaths and cause economic hardship, with the World Bank estimating that environmental degradation costs India roughly $80 billion each year.

India is at the cusp of an economic growth transition, and urban areas are contributing rapidly to this. Disasters and climate change impacts ruthlessly bring us down from our development agenda, directly impacting lives, property, and economies. Increasing pressure of urbanisation, weak implementation of development regulations, inefficient infrastructure, and lack of policy on planning for safe and resilient cities make Indian cities vulnerable to impacts of climate change and extreme events.

Rapid urbanisation and growth in urban population further stresses our resources – manmade as well as natural. By 2030, the urban population of India is expected to almost double to nearly 600 million and the number of cities with a population over a million is expected to increase from 53 to nearly 80. Urban contribution to the India’s gross domestic product is also expected to rise to 75% by 2030.

These growth projections, however, can only be achieved if the urban development agenda is fuelled with climate smart planning, resilient infrastructure, and robust disaster management facility coupled with an emergency response system that communicates well till the last mile: the communities and the vulnerable population.

There is a need to revamp the way cities are being managed, planned, and built; for example, building construction, infrastructure development, and basic service provision should entail climate resilience parameters in their design and operations.

There is a need for holistic conversation on these challenges, leading to the concrete actions that are needed to build safe and resilient cities. This needs the practitioners and decision makers to level up to new technological interventions as well as to a better policy practice.

OPM’s session on smart, safe, and resilient cities, moderated by Divya Sharma (senior consultant and Urban Policy and Planning team lead) will look at some of these challenges and attempt to steer the conversation towards identifying specific and broad areas of interventions that could be dovetailed to the existing urban planning and management regime in the country while also looking at fresh proposals for innovative urban practices.

Our speakers include seasoned urban practitioners and resilience crusaders:

  • Mr V Suresh, President, Good Governance India Foundation, and Vice Chairman, National Building Code of India on Resilient Habitat & Infrastructure
  • Dr Cristina Rumbaitis del Rio, Regional Programme Manager for Action on Climate Today, OPM
  • Mr Tikender Singh Panwar, Member, All India Urban Forum and Former Deputy Mayor of Shimla, Himachal Pradesh
  • Mr Shashikant Chopde, International Consultant, Institute for Social and Environmental Transformation (ISET), USA.

Join us on 10 July 2018, at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi, for the session on smart, safe, and resilient cities at Global Inclusive Disaster Management Conference. Be part of an engaging and inspiring discussion on disaster safe and climate resilient urban India. For further details refer to www.gidmc.org

Image credit: Krupa Gandhi