Building resilience of cities develops readiness for future transformations - GulfToday

Building resilience of cities develops readiness for future transformations


A general view of the golf course villa community in Dubai.

Business Bureau, Gulf Today

The World Government Summit launched a report entitled “Time to Future Proof: A blueprint for holistic urban resilience” in partnership with Strategy& Middle East, part of the PwC network. 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 urbanization 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 urbanization, 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 Organization

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 utilization 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% of the GDP, and host 55% of the world’s total population, not to mention that this percentage is expected to reach 68% 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.

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