Local Level Resilience and Pandemic Risk

Tue 13, October 2020
16:30 - 18:00 CET

With over 75% of citizens now living in urban settings across Europe, cities and regions are more than ever on the frontline when a disaster strikes. The dramatic impacts of the global pandemic struck at the heart of our local settings, across all regions of the EU. Governments at all levels, and in particular local and regional authorities, have been called upon to provide emergency services, coordinate efforts and mitigate as far as possible the impact on economies. In an effort to contain the impacts of the virus, local authorities have taken various measures in addition to national measures, to reduce the existing risk and prevent future risk associated with biological hazards. The role of local initiatives and processes, such as volunteering networks, has been critical in responding to the immediate needs and recovery efforts. At the same time, cities and regions continue to face risks in their local contexts, which make the landscape of risk particularly complex and increase the vulnerability of citizens, vital systems and economies.

This workshop is organised by the Committee of the Regions Natural Resources Commission and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, in partnership with the Center for European Volunteering. The event will bring together local (cities and municipalities) and regional representatives to share their experience in building local resilience in the face of a complex risk landscape, recently exacerbated by the pandemic outbreak.

Discussions will enable us to draw some practical good practices and lessons learnt and give critical attention to a topic at the heart of local authorities’ strategies for resilience and disaster risk reduction, and the role of societal resilience through volunteer engagement. The aim of the workshop will be to draw out a set of concrete recommendations for building back better and more resilient systems at local and regional level, and the role of the EU in this regard.

The timing of the session will coincide with the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction on 13 October, focused this year on national and local Strategies for Disaster Risk Reduction, under Target E of the Global Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030.

We look forward to welcoming you to the workshop.

Andrew Bower, Programme Manager, United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, Belgium.
Cecilio Cerdán Carbonero, General Director for Cooperation and Global Citizenship, Ayuntamiento de Madrid, Spain.
Roberto Ciambetti, President of the Veneto Regional Council (Italy) and President of the Italian delegation in the CoR, European Committee of the Regions, Italy.
Gabriella Civico, Director, Centre for European Volunteering (CEV), Belgium.
Noemie Fompeyrine, Head of the Paris Resilience Office, City of Paris, France.
Mami Mizutori, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction and Head of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, Switzerland.
Cristina Piva, Councillor for Volunteering & Education, City of Padova European Volunteering Capital 2020, Italy.
Cohesion and Cooperation
European Committee of the Regions - NAT Commission, United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction
English (EN), Italiano (IT)

Session summary

Participating cities and regions from across Europe shared experiences and good practices in response, recovery and resilience efforts at local and regional level to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, and addressed the need to strengthen the role of EU and global actions such as MCR2030 in supporting cities and regions with their response and recovery efforts. Critical aspects were highlighted: the need to empower residents to prevent risks and respond in case of crises and the importance of the ability to be flexible and adapt to changing situations. Discussions pointed to the need for both horizontal and vertical joint efforts across different sectors and levels of government and the importance of better governance and experience-sharing at all levels. The emergency situation also unlocked the potential of citizens and policy leaders and proved that resilience to disasters at local level would not be possible without the engagement of the volunteering community.

Take away message

Resilience is everyone's business. To increase resilience to future risks we need to rethink the approach to resilience strategies to better reflect pandemics and other systemic risks. Good cross-sector collaboration for disaster preparedness and risk reduction is key to enabling communities to face threats together and find common solutions to existing and future challenges. The EU also has a role to play in supporting local and regional actors with recovery efforts and in recreating more resilient systems.


Additional information

"The COVID-19 crisis is everyone's business. It is also clear that local and regional governments are on the frontline of this crisis as they are for most disasters. The work of building resilience and reducing risks cannot proceed without them."

Mami Mizutori, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction