On April 26th the CapaCities project had its second online meeting to share lessons and experiences. The focal points of Ararat, Kutaisi and Ungheni presented their homework results about local resilience planning and discussed local efforts for mainstreaming DRM and Sustainable Development. They also shared the results from their first local stakeholder meetings.
In Ungheni the concept of resilience is integrated in both a Sustainable Development strategy and a previous strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction. One of the main aims within CapaCities will be to integrate DRM and resilience into urban planning. To this end spatial planning specialists have been invited to the local working group. This working group has been formally instituted by the Mayor, with a clear assignment. The local working group will look for synergy with the regional DRM monitoring committee that has been set up as a result of the EU CRISMAS project.
Ararat has internally discussed the main risks and risk drivers. For now, it seems like most attention will have to be paid to industrial risks, environmental degradation and pollution, resilience of the energy sector, transport sector and food chain, as well as disaster proof hospitals (for example against earthquakes). Ararat has an existing strategy for Sustainable Development, which will be updated soon. This is a great opportunity for mainstreaming DRM.
Also Kutaisi has an existing sustainable development strategy. The development of a spatial planning strategy is currently underway, offering an opportunity for including disaster risks. Risk concerns will also be included in new projects, such as the rehabilitation of the Rioni River bank.
Discussing the progress made, the focal points and Core Team concluded that mainstreaming starts with knowing the different planning processes within the city, including those for sustainable development, urban planning, resilience and climate change adaptation. The focal points have to understand those processes, but do not have to get involved in each of those themselves. In this stage, it is better to invite the main stakeholders from those processes in the local working group and get their commitment to contribute to the project. Once they are part of the DRM working group, it will be easier to find each other in future. Each of the stakeholders should themselves keep an eye on their internal processes as far as those are related to DRM and keep the focal points informed about it. In that way the focal points will be able to get early signals about new planning processes and know when they should be more involved or less involved, to contribute to the mainstreaming of disaster risks into those processes. To this end the focal points can inform and educate professionals from other sectors about their tasks related to DRM, as well as give guidance for risk assessments and for the development of relations with other internal and external stakeholders.
The central aim remains to implement risk concerns into each of those processes in such a way that it becomes standard practice to think about disaster risks. Sustainability of that effort is key. The local cooperation on DRM should not end after the CapaCities project. During the project the focal points should build a local cooperation and DRM governance that can be continued in the long term. The current local working groups could become structural committees that have the assignment to facilitate cooperation, signal new planning processes and direct the need for risk information and specialized risk advice.