I bet you never thought Venice, Maputo, and DC would be in the same presentation

The InterAction Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) Working Group hosted a panel, Living on the Edge: Building Resilience in Coastal Cities, to discuss the relationship between coastal cities, disaster risk, and climate change. Moderated by Guillermo Garcia, Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean for the American Red Cross, the panelists – Judy Baker, Lead Economist in the Urban Practice Group at the World Bank Institute, Paul Drossou, the Indonesia Country Director for Lutheran World Relief, Michael Donovan, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Fellow at USAID, and Robin Bronen, Executive Director of the Alaska Immigration Justice Project – discussed what can be done to build the resiliency of these vulnerable communities in the short, medium and long term.

In 1984, 32 percent of the world’s population lived in urban areas. Since then, that number has increased to 46 percent, and there is an even faster rate of acceleration in coastal cities. In Indonesia, 50 percent of its population lives in close proximity to a coast line. With so many people vulnerable to the immediate impacts of climate change and disasters, governments, communities, and civil society need to do more to understand the impacts and protect these populations. In order to build the resilience of these vulnerable coastal cities, the panelists stressed the need for multi-level governance approaches that address gaps in capacity, collaboration, funding, and information. However, many of the current strategies only focus on mitigation, but “sometimes there is no ‘build back better’.” In these instances, relocation may be the only option for the survival of these communities.

Contributed by Abby Bruell