The UCLG President and Mayor of Istanbul, Kadir Topbas, addressed Wednesday a UN General Assembly session on disaster risk reduction as part of his visit to New York.
Speaking at the session, the UCLG President said living spaces like cities should be planned properly, adding that natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes and hurricanes, as well as climate change gave rise to major problems in cities which failed to make use of the nature in the right way. The UCLG President said problems would be inescapable if living spaces and constructions in cities were not planned in line with the risks of the region. He further underlined the imperative need of involving the citizens ensuring that the take a full part of any plan developed, a position that was also supported by the Mayor of Santa Tecla from El Salvador.
The session emphasised the importance of south-south and city to city cooperation with one important example in the panel, the experience of Banda Ache, the city received support from UCLG members, including Istanbul after the Tsunami.
Putting planning back on the map was also a conclusion of the panel that was chaired by the President of the General Assembly. This confirms the relevance of the Policy Paper on Strategic Planning developed by the UCLG.
The mayor of Istanbul noted that UCLG was ready to cooperate with the UN in activities on disaster risk reduction. "It is now time to be more active. The countdown has started and the system is against us. If we do not take the necessary measures, loss of lives would be much more painful than loss of properties as population in cities increases and disasters reach these settlement areas," Topbas also said. Click here to join the Resilient cities campaign.
Margareta Wahlstrom, UN Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction, stressed the practical approach that local authorities bring to the international debate and how this can help in deepening the development of international policies.
Earlier on Wednesday, Topbas met with United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) Executive Director Joan Clos. He is also scheduled to meet with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on February 10 and discuss how to strengthen the cooperation between UCLG and the UN System.