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GCRF Urban Disaster Risk Hub launched

Posted on 4 February 2019

SEI to lead research into governance of decision making across four cities

GCRF Hub on Urban Risk - Nairobi Photo: Howard Cambridge
Nairobi, Kenya - one of the hub's case study cities 

Research teams and policy makers in four major cities: Kathmandu, Istanbul, Nairobi and Quito, will join UK and international scientists, civil society groups and a range of UN agencies in a 5-year research drive to reduce disaster risk for the poorest citizens in tomorrow’s cities. The programme will enhance sustainable urban development and catalyse a transition from crisis management to far-sighted, risk-informed urban planning and decision-making.

This £19.6 million initiative, led from the University of Edinburgh, is funded by UK Research and Innovation, through its Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF).

Cities are home to 55% of the global population and account for 70% of global GDP. Many argue that the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will be won or lost there. More than two billion people living in cities in low and middle-income countries are exposed to floods, earthquakes, landslides, volcanoes and cyclones, and this figure is expected to double by 2050. But 60% of the area expected to be urban by 2030 is yet to be built. This historically unprecedented urbanisation, often considered only as a threat, also provides a time-limited opportunity to plan disaster risk out of tomorrow’s cities.

The Hub is designed to help cities achieve goals of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Reduction and the SDGs. Particularly: SDG 11: ‘Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable’ and SDG 1: ‘Build the resilience of the poor and those in vulnerable situations and reduce their exposure and vulnerability to climate- related extreme events and other economic, social and environmental shocks and disasters.’

The Hub will run from 2019-2024, through the heart of the SDG and Sendai Implementation period, when cities will most need support if they are significantly to reduce the impact of disasters, particularly on the urban poor, by 2030.

The Hub will enhance sustainable urban development, catalysing a risk-informed urban planning and decision-making, through multi-stakeholder partnerships within and between targeted cities, and globally through collaboration with international organisations.

Designed to reinforce existing initiatives in the partner cities, the Hub will analyse the social and political drivers of urban disaster risk and develop a precisely targeted suite of decision support tools to help planners examine the consequences of different development choices.

Jon Ensor, Senior Research Fellow at SEI based at the University of York, is leading the work on governance supporting city authorities and multiple stakeholders, including those living in vulnerable communities, to understand how decision making at different levels can better engage with emerging science and plan for, anticipate and respond to risk.

The hubs are funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) through the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) – which is a key component in delivering the UK AID strategy and puts UK-led research at the heart of efforts to tackle the United Nations sustainable development goals. SEI is also co-leading a work package for the Trade, Development and Environment (TRADE) Hub

Further information:

More information about the launch of the hub is available here.

Download the UKRI Hubs brochure (pdf).