Making Cities Safe and Secure
This programme focuses on how climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction can be best addressed and sustained over time through integration with existing urban planning and management practices. This programme also focus on how man-made risks can be addressed, including how cities can become more safe in relation to traffic, public space and housing.
Disasters, risks, planning and housing
Climate change is projected to increase the likelihood and severity of a wide range of extreme weather events, many of which particularly affect urban area. Given urban areas’ high population densities, often including high concentrations of vulnerable people, increasing urban disaster risk should be a key concern in discussions of the adverse impacts of climate change.
Poor people living in slums are at particularly high risk from the impacts of climate change and natural hazards. They live on the most vulnerable lands within cities, typically areas that are deemed undesirable by others and are thus affordable. Residents are exposed to the impacts of landslides, sea-level rise, flooding, and other hazards. Exposure to risk is exacerbated by overcrowding living conditions, lack of adequate infrastructure and services, unsafe housing, inadequate nutrition, and poor health. These conditions can turn a natural hazard or change in climate into a disaster, and result in the loss of basic services, damage or destruction to homes, loss of livelihoods, malnutrition, disease, disability, and loss of life.
Crime-prevention and planning
In selected countries and cities, insecurity has moved from being a social issue, affecting the well-being of individuals, to being a serious development constraint, compromising the attractiveness and potential of neighbourhoods, and locking people in isolation and spiralling decay. Insecurity discourages local investment and prevents the participation of people in active life, while restricting their access to services.
Cities that attract economic power and foster growth can also spawn crime, violence, and overall insecurity. Rates of crime and violence can increase dramatically in cities and are usually most extreme in larger centres. Urban safety and security is vital for development, investment and access to services. In Latin America, urban violence is among the five leading causes of death.
Among poor communities, many people live a life of constant fear and routine violence. Insecurity is not only due to criminal gangs but also to brutality and victimization by police forces. For women, there are additional concerns about domestic violence and sexual abuse. In other words, violence and insecurity is a problem with multiple causes that calls for multiple and mutually reinforcing solutions.
Municipal governments must take the lead in building safer communities. A city is also best placed to ensure that investments and activities that effectively prevent crime are delivered in close consultation and collaboration
with citizens, local police, and relevant agencies. Examples include street lighting around bus stops that reduce opportunities for aggression, allowing the poor to take better paying jobs outside their community. Or public spaces, housing, and recreational spaces designed in consultation with neighbours with specific risks in mind to effectively reduce the incidence of crime.
In a number of countries, there is now recognition that providing security for the wealthy leaves the rest of the population much less secure. Not only does it serve to exclude certain groups from public spaces, but it makes those excluded less secure and shifts the problems elsewhere. There are now attempts to look for more equitable and less exclusionary solutions, through better design and management of public spaces, as well as careful negotiation with local users.
Questions that will be raised within this program include:
- What are the experiences from integrated, multisectoral and holistic approaches to urban safety issues?
- How can urban design influence safety?
- What is the role of green space in making cities safer?