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RESILIENT CITIES: A STRATEGY FOR THE FUTURE


“The location is very strategic – it’s in the center of Indonesia and close to urban areas,” the president said in a televised speech. “The burden Jakarta is holding right now is too heavy as the center of governance, business, finance, trade, and services,” - President Joko Widodo, Indonesia


By the end of the 21st century, we are facing an unprecedented crisis, lurking at us and looming large. Many of the coastal cities, now thriving as metropolitans, are on the verge of submerging due to multiple interconnected reasons. Numerous reports have provided alarming data on the sinking of cities under their own weight due to the rapid extraction of groundwater, and rising sea levels. The urgency of addressing this issue cannot be overstated. As repercussions of inaction would lead to massive disruptions to life and business continuity.


In this blog, we will discuss an interesting example of the sinking of Jakarta and how we can make our cities resilient to deal with the challenges of the 21st century.


“To waste, to destroy our natural resources, to skin and exhaust the land instead of using it so as to increase its usefulness, will result in undermining in the days of our children the very prosperity which we ought by right to hand down to them amplified and developed” - Theodore Roosevelt, Former President United States


JAKARTA: A SINKING CITY

Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia is facing an environmental crisis, as the city is sinking at an alarming rate. Reports indicate that 95% of North Jakarta will be drowned by 2050 as it is sinking at a rate of 25 cm annually in certain areas. Other parts of Jakarta are sinking in the range of 1cm-10cm annually. Source info here.


WHY IS JAKARTA SINKING?

One major reason why Jakarta is sinking is the excessive extraction of groundwater. As the city does not have comprehensive access to piped water, people depend on groundwater for their basic needs. So basically, if groundwater is extracted on a large scale, the ground above it gets loose. As the water is responsible for holding the rocks in the ground, when water is removed the rocks fall upon each other causing land subsidence. Along with groundwater extraction, rising sea levels due to climate change is another major factor for the city’s sinking.


ALTERNATE CITY

Due to Jakarta sinking at an alarming rate, the government of Indonesia decided to move the capital to Nusantara, on the island of Borneo. Many organizations based in Jakarta may see the sinking as a threat to the organization financially or reputationally and may want to shift to ensure business continuity. However, the project to shift the capital will cost an estimated 32 billion USD. So, having an alternate backup location may not always be financially feasible, instead of shifting locations, an alternate approach to making cities resilient could be considered to ensure business continuity.


“Every time you say ’Oh they’re resilient’…. Actually, means you can do something new to my community…I don't want to be resilient, I want to fix the things that create the need for us to be resilient in the first place” - Tracie Washington, President of the Louisiana Justice Institute


SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS

What could be done to make our cities more resilient to these threats?

Besides climate adaptation, integrating resilience into urban planning is essential. One of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 11) developed by the UN's General Assembly includes "sustainable cities". The official mission of this goal is to “Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable." By pursuing these objectives and incorporating resilience into urban planning, cities can become more adaptive and better equipped to face the challenges of the 21st century.


“We learn from every natural disaster. Whether it’s a fire or a flood, we learn something from it so we can respond to the next one better.” - Malcolm Turnbull, Former Australian Prime Minister


WHAT IS A RESILIENT CITY?

The ability of a system, community, or society exposed to hazards to resist, absorb, accommodate, adapt to, transform, and recover from the effects of a hazard in a timely and efficient manner, including through the preservation and restoration of its essential basic structures and functions through risk management is called Resilience as per UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR).


As per UNDRR, the Key components of a resilient city are:

1. An organizational structure is needed with clearly defined roles and responsibilities supported by strong leadership. The city’s vision should consider Disaster Risk Reduction as a key component.

2. There is a requirement to develop projection-based models to identify current and future risk scenarios, along with maintaining a database of current hazards and vulnerabilities. Conduct risk assessments and use that as a foundation for the urban development of the city and its long-term goals.

3. Financial resilience should be strengthened as economic impact of disasters should be mitigated.

4. Urban planning should be based on up-to-date risk assessments and vulnerable populations should be considered and building regulations should be realistic and risk compliant.

5. Natural ecosystems within or outside the city's geography should be used for risk reduction, and natural buffers must be safeguarded.

6. Institutional capacity for resilience should be strengthened like governmental organizations, the private sector, etc.

7. Societal capacity for resilience should be understood and strengthened through community and government initiatives.

8. Infrastructure resilience should be strengthened and an action plan for protection, maintenance, and risk mitigation should be in place.

9. Disaster preparedness and response should be effective, and preparedness plans should be updated.

10. Post-disaster recovery includes rehabilitation and reconstruction, there should be a proper mechanism in place to bounce back better. Reference: UNDRR

Adopting the above measures will be critical to ensure resilient cities and could avoid a situation like Jakarta in the future.


CONCLUSION

As we say, spending billions of dollars for an alternate city may not be the right approach. However, considering the 10 points of a resilient city as per UNDRR, we can work together to make our cities resilient for the future, and, in turn secure business continuity. If our cities are not resilient, we are setting ourselves up, to fail as we continue to face increasing challenges in the 21st century.


Gorisco has a wide range of experts who are experienced in defining and designing various solutions to help organizations mitigate their risks and resolve their problems.

At Gorisco, our motto is 'Embedding Resilience' and we are committed to making the organizations and their workforce resilient. Reach out to us if you have any queries, clarifications, or need any support on your initiatives.

To read our other blogs, click here. More importantly, let us know if you liked them or not through your comments.




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1 Comment


Guest
Aug 07, 2023

This is quite informative!

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