Resilient Cities

Resilient cities are cities that have the ability to absorb, recover and prepare for future shocks (economic, environmental, social & institutional). Resilient cities promote sustainable development, well-being and inclusive growth.  The OECD is investigating how cities can increase their resilience. There are 4 areas that drive resilience: economy, governance, society and environment. The report on the OECD Resilient Cities project is structured into 4 sections:

  • A framework for resilient cities. It provides a working definition of a resilient city, the drivers of resilience in order to better identify what resilience looks like in an urban context, and the policy mechanisms that could be of benefit.
  • The indicators of resilience.
  • The policy actions taken by city governments, as well as their collaboration with national governments.
  • Experiences of case studies of cities in building their resilience.

Vulnerability in Europe 2016

Climate change, impacts and vulnerability in Europe 2016

Europe’s regions are facing rising sea levels and more extreme weather, such as more frequent and more intense heatwaves, flooding, droughts and storms due to climate change, according to a European Environment Agency report published today.

The report ‘Climate change, impacts and vulnerability in Europe 2016 by the European Environment Agency assesses the latest trends and projections on climate change and its impacts across Europe and finds that better and more flexible adaptation strategies, policies and measures will be crucial to lessen these impacts.

This report is an indicator-based assessment of past and projected climate change and its impacts on ecosystems and society. It also looks at society’s vulnerability to these impacts and at the development of adaptation policies and the underlying knowledge base. This is the fourth ‘Climate change, impacts and vulnerability in Europe’ report, which is published every four years. This edition aims to support the implementation and review process of the 2013 EU Adaptation Strategy, which is foreseen for 2018, and the development of national and transnational adaptation strategies and plans.

Political Risk

With the (unexpected) outcomes and results of elections and referenda it becomes more and more evident that politics – and with that the shift of power and influence – is one of the drivers of public risk. The unpredictable working of politics – and in fact of society itself – with the democratic system is therefore in discussion, and even the system of democracy itself. What is political risk? According to Wikipedia our collective definition is:

Political risk is a type of risk faced by investors, corporations, and governments that political decisions, events, or conditions will significantly affect the profitability of a business actor or the expected value of a given economic action. Political risk can be understood and managed with reasoned foresight and investment.

The last sentence is interesting. The recent US presidential election showed us that foresight is very limited and investment highly insecure. Businesses and governments may face complications as a result of what are commonly referred to as political decisions—or “any political change that alters the expected outcome and value of a given economic action by changing the probability of achieving business objectives”.

Political risk faced by firms can be defined as “the risk of a strategic, financial, or personnel loss for a firm because of such nonmarket factors as macroeconomic and social policies (fiscal, monetary, trade, investment, industrial, income, labour, and developmental), or events related to political instability (terrorism, riots, coups, civil war, and insurrection).” Portfolio investors may face similar financial losses. Moreover, governments may face complications in their ability to execute diplomatic, military or other initiatives as a result of political risk.

That politics and business are also interconnected in an emotional way can be seen in the highly volatile indices of the stock markets. More and more the political risk can be read by following these patterns. Our emotions follow a path of high mountains and deep valleys, sometime in a period of hours or even minutes. Political risk is not to be underestimated. The problem from the perspective of establishing public values and mitigating public risks is, that it hardly can be managed.

Malta Seminar

Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction

Trends and Economic Challenges in Malta as part of the ‘Climate Change Research Seminar Series’.

Date: Tuesday 29th November 2016

Organisation: by the Climate Change Research Platform of the University of Malta* and PRIMO**

Venue: IT Services Building, Room VC102, Malta University

The Climate Change Platform (CCP) was set up, under the auspices of the Islands and Small States Institute, to facilitate collaborations between University of Malta entities and individuals interested in climate change issues, and to promote research and teaching initiatives relating to climate change.

The aim of these research seminars is twofold, it presents state of the art research developed by members of the University of Malta, and identifies gaps where further research is needed to support policy.



16.30. Registration and welcome coffee

17.00. Welcome Remarks

  • Lino Briguglio, Islands and Small States Institute Director and Climate Change Platform Steering Commiitee Member

17.10. Keynote Address – 20 minutes

  • John Sammut, ‘Climat echange and Risk Managment’ (TBC, Shield Consultants and Visiting Lecturer with the Insurance Department of the University of Malta

17.30. Panel Discussion – 60 minutes

Moderation by Stefano Moncada, Climate Change Platform Focal Point

  • Representative from the Department of Local Government
  • Marisa Attard, Director of Insusrance and Pensions Superivison, Malta Financial Service Authority
  • Adrian Mifsud Malta Local Council Association (TBC)
  • Representative from the Malta Insurance Association (TBC)
  • Simon Grima, Head of Insurance Department and Public Risk Management Organisation (PRIMO)
  • John Sammut, Shield Consultants and Visiting Lecturer with the Insurance Department
  • John Paul Cauchi Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar (FAA)

18.30. Questions and Facilitated Discussion – 30 minutes

19.00. Drinks and Refreshments

* Under the auspices of the Islands and Small States Institute, and with the contribution of the Institute for Sustainable Development and Climate Change, and the Institute for European Studies.

** This seminar is part of the ‘From Global to Local‘ platform, which is founded by PRIMO and UDITE to discuss and outline local and regional activities based on relevant global risks.

Good Government and Coordination

By Jack Kruf.

The painting in the Town Hall of the City (and from Republic) of Siena is called The Allegory of Good and Bad Government. It is a series of three fresco panels painted in the Sala Dei Nove by Ambrogio Lorenzetti in 1338/1339. The series consists of six different scenes: Allegory of Good GovernmentAllegory of Bad GovernmentEffects of Bad Government in the CityEffects of Bad Government in the CountryEffects of Good Government in the City and Effects of Good Government in the Country. 

The only way to get to the high level of good government seems to be by coordination. Many issues today like climate change, cyber crime, large scale migration and water demands for much better coordination between people, teams, organisations in all governmental levels and between different segments and disciplines. This need is not only well described in the World Economic Forum in the Global Risks Report 2016 but was already expressed in many ways in this beautiful  fresco of Lorenzetti, almost 700 years ago.

Coordination is the key for successful approach and management of our public values like safety, cohesion, prosperity, health and balance with respect for nature. In this video it is explained very clearly by Charles Fried, professor at Harvard Law School and has been a visiting professor at Columbia Law School. It underlines the need for coordination to get speed in our public governance.


A New Climate for Peace

Source: G7
“Taking Action on Climate and Fragility Risks”

An independent report commissioned by members of the G7, identifies seven compound climate-fragility risks that pose serious threats to the stability of states and societies in the decades ahead. Based on a thorough assessment of existing policies on climate change adaptation, development cooperation and humanitarian aid, and peacebuilding, the report recommends that the G7 take concrete action, both as individual members and jointly, to tackle climate-fragility risks and increase the resilience of states and societies to them.

Risk Analysis: Compound Climate-Fragility Risks

Climate change is a global threat to security in the 21st century. It will stress the world’s economic, social, and political systems. Where institutions and governments are unable to manage the stress or absorb the shocks of a changing climate, the risks to the stability of states and societies will increase.

Flooding after Storm Desmond

Source: Zurich

The storms that battered the north of England and parts of Scotland at the end of 2015 and early 2016 caused significant damage and disruption to families and businesses across tight knit rural communities and larger towns and cities. This came just two years after Storm Xaver inflicted significant damage to the east coast of England. Flooding is not a new threat to the residents of the Lake District, but the severity of the events in December 2015 certainly appears to have been regarded as surprising.

While the immediate priority is always to ensure that these communities and businesses are back up on their feet as quickly and effectively as possible, it is also important that all those involved in the response take the opportunity to review their own procedures and actions. It is often the case that when our response is put to the test in a ‘real world’ scenario that we discover things that could have been done better, or differently, and can make changes to ensure continuous improvement. This is true of insurers as much as it is of central and local government and the emergency services, because events like these demand a truly integrated response.

In this report, we set out to review the complete risk management cycle surrounding Storm Desmond, which caused severe flooding across Cumbria and the north of England, in December 2015. We offer some of our key findings from the review, an understanding of the severity of what turned out to be another exceptional flood event, the varying levels of flood risk awareness, preparedness and response amongst homeowners and businesses in the affected area, the variable levels of community awareness of residual flood risk and the effectiveness of emergency plans for when flood defence measures are overwhelmed. We have also looked at the role of community flood action groups in the response and recovery from severe flooding. >>

World Risk Report 2016

Source: United Nations University

When an extreme environmental hazard strikes, infrastructure can be a deciding factor in whether or not the situation becomes a disaster. Roads, for example, can provide access to quickly supply relief aid to affected communities; but if roads are destroyed, entire regions can be cut off from support.

The World Risk Report 2016, published on 25 August by UNU-EHS and Bündnis Entwicklung Hilft, analyses the role that infrastructure plays in shaping a country’s disaster risk. The World Risk Index, calculated by the University of Stuttgart, is an integral part of the report as it ranks 171 countries according to their risk of becoming a victim of a disaster as a result of natural hazards such as floods, cyclones, or earthquakes.

Dr. Matthias Garschagen, Scientific Director of the World Risk Report, states:

“We need to look at both the opportunities and risks of critical infrastructure,” “Sufficient and well-built infrastructure, such as high quality power and transportation networks, can limit the impacts that natural hazards can cause both in terms of loss of life and economic damage. At the same time, the breakdown of nodal points in infrastructure, such as airports or power plants, can also cause impacts that reach far beyond the actual extent of the hazard. The international community must increase investments into critical infrastructure before disaster strikes. We currently focus too much on short-term relief after disasters, and pay too little attention to ensuring that resilient infrastructure is in place before hazards occur.” >>

High and Dry: Climate Change

High and Dry: Climate Change, Water and the Economy

By World Bank Group

From Executive Summary: “The impacts of climate change will be channeled primarily through the water cycle, with consequences that could be large and uneven across the globe. Water-related climate risks cascade through food, energy, urban, and environmental systems. Growing populations, rising incomes, and expanding cities will converge upon a world where the demand for water rises exponen- tially, while supply becomes more erratic and uncertain.

If current water management policies persist, and climate models prove correct, water scarcity will proliferate to regions where it currently does not exist, and will greatly worsen in regions where water is already scarce. Simultaneously, rainfall is projected to become more variable and less predictable, while warmer seas will fuel more violent oods and storm surges.

Climate change will increase water-related shocks on top of already demanding trends in water use. Reduced freshwater availability and competition from other uses—such as energy and agriculture—could reduce water availability in cities by as much as two thirds by 2050, compared to 2015 levels.” >>

The report finds that water scarcity, exacerbated by climate change, could hinder economic growth, spur migration, and spark conflict. However, most countries can neutralize the adverse impacts of water scarcity by taking action to allocate and use water resources more efficiently. Key Findings:

  • Water scarcity, exacerbated by climate change, could cost some regions up to 6% of their GDP, spur migration, and spark conflict.
  • The combined effects of growing populations, rising incomes, and expanding cities will see demand for water rising exponentially, while supply becomes more erratic and uncertain.


Antarctic ice sheet

Antarctic model raises prospect of unstoppable ice collapse

Source: Nature

Choices that the world makes this century could determine the fate of the massive Antarctic ice sheet. A study published online this week in Nature1 finds that continued growth in greenhouse-gas emissions over the next several decades could trigger an unstoppable collapse of Antarctica’s ice — raising sea levels by more than a metre by 2100 and more than 15 metres by 2500.

“That is literally remapping how the planet looks from space,” says study co-author Rob DeConto, a geoscientist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The good news, he says, is that it projects little or no sea-level rise from Antarctic melt if greenhouse-gas emissions are reduced quickly enough to limit the average global temperature rise to about 2 °C. Read more >

Water Integrity Global Outlook

The world’s water has never been under greater pressure, with unprecedented demands for use in human consumption, agriculture, industry and power generation. How can a growing global population ensure that water remains available, clean and sustainable?

The Water Integrity Global Outlook 2016 (WIGO) captures a growing recognition of the need for good governance and measures to eliminate corruption to improve sector performance. It emphasizes the need for transparency, accountability and participation (TAP) to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 6 on water and sanitation.

WIGO highlights how institutional fragmentation and corruption undermine resources and services. It demonstrates how integrity and good governance have become international and national priorities and outlines tools and techniques that make improvements achievable. It makes recommendations for action by governments, sector actors, the private sector and civil society bodies. >>

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