The Urban Water Challenge: How can flood modelling and citizen mobilization support urban resilience?
Bonn Water Network, MCR2030, ICLEI
2023 has been a year of worldwide flooding disasters that, among other places, had devastating impacts in Libya, washed away entire villages in Kenya, and are still persisting in several European countries and the USA. Pakistan is still recovering after the 2022 floods submerged one third of the country. As climate change is increasing both the frequency and intensity of flooding, urban resilience is more important than ever.
Together with the city of Bonn as a United Nations’ Making Cities Resilient 2030 hub, and ICLEI (Local Governments for Sustainability), the BonnWaterNetwork* invited to discuss lessons-learned on flood prevention and management. Our debate highlighted the opportunities for cities to model flood and heavy rain scenarios and increase flood resilience through socio-political, physical, and environmental measures.
Annabelle Houdret, senior researcher at the German Development Institute (IDOS) and speaker of the BonnWaterNetwork, opened the event and Saravanan Subramanian, senior researcher at IDOS, set the scene with a presentation on “Urban Flood Resilience: Challenges from Pluvial and Fluvial Risk”. A panel with four flood experts then presented and discussed lessons-learned from activities around the world: Rabia Chaudhry, Assistant Professor at the Centre for Public Policy & Governance, Forman Christian College, Lahore/ Pakistan explained how politics influence urban flood governance in Lahore. Julia Feth, Department for City Cartography and Geoinformation of the city of Bonn explained how a new 3D-model for flood simulation helps increasing resilience. Pierpaolo Campostrini, managing director of CORILA and focal point of UNDRR campaign "Making Cities Resilient" for the city of Venice, presented the early warning system for citizens in Venice, based on meteorological forecast and flooding maps. Georg Johann, Managing Director of the Flood Competence Center/ HochwasserKompetenzCentrum e.V., explained how citizen empowerment for instance by using the "Floodlabel" can increase resilience towards pluvial and fluvial floods. A debate on the different measures followed the short presentations and was open to the public. David Jacome-Polit, Acting head of the Resilient Development Team at ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability and former City Resilience Officer of the city of Quito/ Ecuador, wrapped up the event.
The Bonn Water Network consists of eleven renowned institutions with longstanding experience on water and related issues: the Bonn International Centre for Conflict Studies (BICC); Bonn University with its Institute of Geography (GIUB) holding the UNESCO Chair in Human Water Systems, the Center for Development Research (ZEF) and the Institute for Hygiene and Public Health (IHPH); the German Institute of Development and Sustainability (IDOS); the IUCN Environmental Law Centre; and three Bonn-based UN institutions: the United Nations Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS), the Secretariat of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and the Global Water Operators Partnerships Alliance (UN-Habitat/GWOPA). In addition, Berlin- based Water Integrity Network (WIN) and the International Centre for Water Resources and Global Change (ICGWRC) based in Koblenz are partners of the BWN. For more information: www.bonnwaternetwork.de.
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