Plenary 6: Urban risks and resilience

Cities concentrate people and their assets. They are major drivers of political, economic, financial, technological and cultural change. Cities stand for progress and prosperity, and for this reason they attract large numbers of rural people and concentrate them in urban environments. At the same time, their variety, density and complexity are inherently sensitive to disturbance, which brings unexpected political, social, financial and environmental implications. Urbanization is a trend that leads to massive flows of people into informal settlements, many of which expand into hazard-prone areas, often without the measures needed to bring the hazards under control. Moreover, climate change will exacerbate this problem. Most of today’s mega-cities are located in coastal areas, which are additionally vulnerable to sea-level rise and storm surges. It is the city authorities’ most challenging task to balance risks against opportunities to secure social welfare and human well-being. This implies that all kinds of risks have to be identified, analysed and managed in a process that must be integrative. Regarding crises and disasters, , resilient systems, organisations and procedures have to be put in place to overcome such situations. This session will focus on questions of how to implement a holistic, risk analysis and assessment approach in cities in order to improve the resilience of their physical, social, economic and ecological systems. Panellists in the session will consider what 'resilient' means in the context of large cities and how the emerging risk scene should determine the priorities for integrative risk management.


Stefan Wolfgang PICKL, Professor, Chair for Operations Research COMTESSA, Department of Computer Science, Universität der Bundeswehr, Munich, Germany


Alice BALBO, Project Manager, “Resilient Cities” / Coordinator, Global Adaptation, International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives ICLEI, Local Governments for Sustainability, Bonn, Germany


Craig DUNCAN, Senior Programme Officer, United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction UNISDR, Geneva, Switzerland


Nivedita HARAN, Secretary of State, Disaster Management Authority, Kerala, India

Jack HARRALD, Professor and Director a.i., Center for Community Security and Resilience, Virginia Tech, Arlington, USA

Ortwin RENN, Professor and Chair, Environmental Sociology and Technology Assessment, University of Stuttgart, Stuttgart, Germany


Hamzeh SHAKIB, Professor, Tarbait Modares University, Tehran, I.R. Iran