Currently showing: Climate/natural disasters

11 Apr 14 08:52

This was a key result for me out of the "Metropolis now! Can our cities cope with disaster?" discussion at the Centre of Global Dialogue in Rüschlikon.

The global urbanization is to a large degree taking place in mega cities in the third world. What drives people there is largely triggered by a changes in the environment, which deprives residents of the means to live in the countryside.

These changes are mainly triggered by us in the developed world, not by those affected. Though a lot of CO2 today is transmitted in developing nations  – if we would color CO2 according to contribution by developed nations the large majority of what we see in the atmosphere would be from us.

So there are people currently moving into exposed areas because they have no other way to go to. Question is: how will we help them to weather the storms, floods and surges that they will encounter in the ever warming world that Nikolas Gruber presented to us that night?

The good news for me was, that something can be done as Arnoud Molenaar from the city of Rotterdam showed. A port that can flawlessly work, even if was flooded, floating structures for sports and recreation in old harbor basins and flood areas build into the city make Rotterdam a livable place – even though it  is mainly below sea level. (Watch the attached video to hear Molenaar share about the Rotterdam Watercity 2035 project.)

But which of all of these expensive measures can we actually take to places like Dhaka, Jakarta or other cities with less resources? All of this needs money – lots of it actually – a societal willingness to do something now and the endurance to actually do it.

When I went out that evening, I was sure that the rich cities will be able to adapt. What worried me is, that I was not sure about the poor ones on our globe. And after all that's where the majority of the world's population lives.

Connecting Generations: Metropolis Now | Swiss Re - Centre for Global Dialogue

Floods, storms, earthquakes and other natural disasters affect...

Category: Climate/natural disasters

Location: Rotterdam, The Netherlands

1 Comment

Patrick Reichenmiller - 12 Apr 2014, 10:32 a.m.

I agree Bernd. It's inspiring to see cities like Rotterdam implement the most amazing innovations in disaster preparedness. But it's also clear that this requires a lot of money - money that many developing countries don't have. On the other hand, some urban areas in emerging markets may have the advantage that they are not as heavily built up yet as cities in the richer countries and so have a chance to avoid making the same mistakes. What's key is smart urban planning that keeps up with the rapid pace of urbanisation. In theory, cities in the world's poorer regions could benefit from initiatives like the UN Adaptation Fund (, which was designed specifically to finance adaptation projects in developing countries. But it remains to be seen how much of the funds committed by donors will actually be made available, and how much of those will reach the local level.

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