Thematic review: Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies-Building resilience
The term ‘resilience’ describes the ability of a system, community or society exposed to hazards to resist, absorb, accommodate, adapt to, transform and recover from the effects of a hazard in a timely and efficient manner, including through the preservation and restoration of its essential basic structures and functions through risk management. to recover from or adjust easily to calamity or change. Building resilience is thus a multidimensional challenge and a cross-cutting issue that will impact progress towards the SDGs and the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

As shocks occur, the severity of their impact on society and the environment depend on the level of vulnerability and exposure, preparedness, and recovery capacities across multiple areas, including urban planning and infrastructure, food security, economic structures, and the way health systems and public institutions are designed. These sudden, disruptive events, caused by internal or external factors, expose countries’ vulnerabilities in their economic, social, political, environmental and institutional structures, as well as vulnerabilities resulting from their geographic situation. Such shocks include economic crises, natural disasters and technological hazards, and other environmental (or climate-related events), and health-related occurrences.

Countries with high exposure to risk and weak structural resilience, such as countries in special situations, are particularly vulnerable to shocks. New pathways and policies are needed to build resilient futures for each society which poses multidimensional challenges for all Member States at all levels of development.

Proposed guiding questions:

  • Who are the furthest behind and are we managing to build the resilience and improve the lives of those people?
  • What actions and policies have proven successful in increasing resilience of countries and people and addressing the impacts of climate change, natural disasters, conflict, and displacement on countries in special situations?
  • How can science, technology and innovation strengthen resilience and inclusion in an integrated manner? What has been most effective in your country?
  • How can integrated policies address resilience gaps and address underlying social, economic and environmental root causes for low resilience?
  • How do we move from incremental to transformational change for higher resilience?

Chair:

  • H. E. Ms. Inga Rhonda King, Vice-President of ECOSOC

Moderator:

  • Ms. Emily Wilkinson, Senior Research Fellow, Risk and Resilience, Overseas Development Institute, UK

Panellists:

  • Ms. Isabelle Durant, UNCTAD Deputy Secretary General
  • Mr. Dereje Wordofa, Deputy Executive Director of UNFPA
  • Mr. Jeb Brugmann, 100 Resilient Cities
  • Mr. David Smith, Coordinator of the Institute for Sustainable Development at the University of the West Indies (UWI) and the University Consortium for Small Island States (UCSIS), and the Caribbean Chair for the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, Jamaica

Lead discussants:

  • H.E. Mr. Vuk Zugic, Ambassador and Co-ordinator of the Economic and Environmental Activities, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)
  • Ms. Markris de Guzman, Regional Focal Point, Asia DRR Youth Network (Major Group of Children and Youth)

Followed by interactive discussion

Biographies
H.E. Mr. Vuk Zugic
Ambassador and Co-ordinator of the Economic and Environmental Activities, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)
H.E. Mr. Vuk Zugic

Ambassador and Co-ordinator of the Economic and Environmental Activities, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)

Mr. David Smith
Coordinator at the University of Consortium for Small Island States
Mr. David Smith

Coordinator at the University of Consortium for Small Island States

Dr. Smith has 28 years’ post-doctoral experience in academia, civil society, the private sector and the United Nations; focussing on Conservation, Energy, Climate Change, Environmental Financing and Disaster Risk Reduction. He is the Coordinator of the Institute for Sustainable Development at The University of the West Indies which focuses on addressing Sustainable Development problems in Caribbean SIDS. He focuses on disaster risk reduction and the Green Economy. Before moving to the University, he was the Assistant Resident Representative in the Jamaica Office of UNDP responsible for the programme in Environment, Climate Change and Disaster Management. From 1994-2000, he was an IUCN Regional Councillor for North America and the Caribbean and the Chair of the Business Committee of IUCN’s Council. Dr Smith served on the Board of the Caribbean Conservation Association for five years and was President in 1995.

Mr. Dereje Wordofa
Deputy Executive Director of UNFPA
Mr. Dereje Wordofa

Deputy Executive Director of UNFPA

Mr. Jeb Brugmann
100 Resilient Cities
Mr. Jeb Brugmann

100 Resilient Cities

Jeb has 30+ years’ professional experience working with local governments and with the corporate sector in 28 countries. In 1989-1990, he founded ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability. He served as ICLEI Secretary General from 1991-2000, establishing the first international programs on urban greenhouse gas management and the worldwide ‘Local Agenda 21” sustainability planning initiative.

In 2001-2003, Jeb directed an ADB/USAID capacity building program for the senior city leaders of more than a hundred Asia-Pacific cities. From 2004-2016, he was Partner in The Next Practice innovation consultancy, leading multi-year engagements with companies in the banking, energy, FMCG, health, and property sectors to develop and pilot new business lines for ‘base of the pyramid’ populations.

Jeb holds a Master’s degree from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and a BA in Economics summa cum laude from the University of Massachusetts. His awards include the Millennium Award for Best Sustainability Initiative (2000) of the European Environmental Agency/Princes’ Foundation, and the 2007 McKinsey Award for best article of the year from Harvard Business Review. He is a Senior Associate with the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, and author of Welcome to the Urban Revolution: How Cities Are Changing the World.

Ms. Emily Wilkinson
Acting Head of the Risk and Resilience Programme, The Overseas Development Institute, UK
Ms. Emily Wilkinson

Acting Head of the Risk and Resilience Programme, The Overseas Development Institute, UK

Emily is a Senior Research Fellow in the ODI Risk and Resilience Programme, leading research on risk and uncertainty in development and disaster recovery. Her current research focuses on disaster and climate risk management, state responsibility, anticipatory action and effectiveness and accountability in public policy. For the last 15 years, Emily has worked with governments, non-government organisations and scientific agencies in Latin America and the Caribbean, East Africa, South Asia and the Pacific to identify critical entry points and opportunities for overcoming hazardous geographies and managing risk in line with development priorities.

Ms. Isabelle Durant
UNCTAD Deputy Secretary General
Ms. Isabelle Durant

UNCTAD Deputy Secretary General

Ms. Marikris Dickson de Guzman
Regional Focal Point, Asia DRR Youth Network (Major Group of Children and Youth)
Ms. Marikris Dickson de Guzman

Regional Focal Point, Asia DRR Youth Network (Major Group of Children and Youth)

Marikris Dickson de Guzman is an advocate of good governance and disaster risk reduction from the Philippines. She helped organize and coordinate disaster risk reduction activities and programs with different government and non-government agencies as a Climate Action and Disaster Risk Reduction Coordinator at the Philippine National Youth Commission-Committee on Environment in 2015. While working at the Department of Social Welfare and Development, she participated in the Philippine government’s humanitarian response when Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines in 2013 through helping in the logistics of relief distribution.

She presented an environment and DRR-related project together with a team in the UNESCO Looking Beyond Disasters 2013 forum in Indonesia, which was funded by the ASEAN Youth Volunteers Program and implemented in the Philippines. Marikris presented in international conferences such as the World Water Forum in South Korea, the 2nd Asia-Pacific Forum on Urban Resilience and Adaptation in Malaysia, and the Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in India.

As a researcher, she contributed to research projects on poverty assessment, agriculture, labor unions, and social impact bonds. She currently serves as Associate Director of the Social Impact Bond Lab under the Zuellig School of Development Management- Asian Institute of Management.

Statements
Statements
H.E. Mr. Vuk Zugic, Ambassador and Co-ordinator of the Economic and Environmental Activities, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)
Mr. David Smith, Coordinator of the Institute for Sustainable Development at the University of the West Indies (UWI) and the University Consortium for Small Island States (UCSIS)
Mr. Dereje Wordofa, Deputy Executive Director of UNFPA
Ms. Isabelle Durant, UNCTAD Deputy Secretary General
Presentations
Mr. Jeb Brugmann, 100 Resilient Cities
United Nations