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Harnessing creativity for change: The art of resilience

Jocelyn West's picture
Call for submissions for upcoming international art exhibition. © GFDRR
Call for submissions for upcoming international art exhibition. © GFDRR

Art is the queen of all sciences, communicating knowledge to all the generations of the world. -Leonardo da Vinci


The Great Wave off Kanagawa, by Hokusai
The Great Wave off Kanagawa, by Hokusai

Scientists are constantly getting better at knowing when the next hurricane, landslide, or flood will happen. However, science communication about these disasters lags behind. As Leonardo da Vinci described, art has a unique power to communicate this type of knowledge to people everywhere.  

Natural events and disasters of the past have influenced some of the most iconic art of our time. From Turner’s sunsets to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein – both were composed in the shadow of the greatest volcanic eruption of our age, Mount Tambora in 1815. The Great Wave off Kanagawa by Japanese artist Hokusai (c. 1829–33) has been interpreted as a warning about tsunami risk. In an era of increasing natural hazards and climate change, art can also communicate the future risks we face.

Integrated urban flood risk management: Learning from the Japanese experience

Jolanta Kryspin-Watson's picture
Participants from 9 countries participated at the 2nd Technical Deep Dive (TDD) for Integrated Urban Flood Risk Management in Tokyo, Kobe and Osaka, Japan.

In the summer of 1742, two typhoons swept across Japan in quick succession, bringing torrents of heavy rain and flooding major rivers. Records from a young monk who witnessed the floods describe a muddy wave destroying levees and sweeping through villages. As levees and rivers collapsed, floodwaters rose in Edo, Japan’s largest city and political capital, abating only days later, and resulting in fatalities of a reported 6,000 in the city.
 
While floods were not an uncommon occurrence in Japan, the Great Kanto Flood of 1742 was the worst flood in the country’s early modern era, and the first flood disaster in its largest urban area. It highlighted the river engineering changes that had facilitated the growth of Edo, but also increased the city’s vulnerability to floods.

How can Bhutan better prepare for earthquakes?

Dechen Tshering's picture
Seismic station in Thimpu. Photo: Royal Government of Bhutan

Bhutan is highly vulnerable to earthquakes, thanks to its location in the seismically active Himalayas.
However, past seismic events across the country were not properly recorded. As recent research indicates the potential for earthquakes of magnitude 8 and over, how can Bhutan ready itself to weather future earthquake risks?

Following the September 21, 2009 earthquake, which claimed 12 lives and caused an estimated loss of BTN 2501 million (or about $54 million), a post-disaster needs assessment led by the government with support from the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) and the United Nations, made clear that the Kingdom needed to understand its exposure to seismic risks better.

To that end, Bhutan embarked on the $1.29 million Improving Resilience to Seismic Risk project funded by the Japan Policy and Human Resources Development (PHRD) Technical Assistance Program to Support Disaster Reduction and Recovery. This project started on May 23, 2013 and ended on July 31, 2017.

Want to bring transit-oriented development to your city? There’s a toolkit for that!

Gerald Ollivier's picture
 

Let’s say you are a transport specialist or an urban planner who wants to implement a transit-oriented development plan, because you know that TOD, as a planning and design strategy, can help transform your city.

TOD, as an urban development approach, concentrates high-density development and economic clusters around rapid transit stations. Concentrating housing and activities such as jobs, within a 5 to 10-minute walking distance from these stations encourages more people to take public transport and reduces the need for motorized trips. In addition, if done well, TOD enhances universal accessibility and the quality of public space while offering green and efficient urban mobility options.

Although these all sound attractive for you to implement your plan, you need to convince others, including the city officials you are working with. How do you do that?

Supporting Vietnam’s economic success through greener, cheaper, and more efficient trucking

Yin Yin Lam's picture


Vietnam has become one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, with annual GDP growth averaging 5 to 8% over the last few decades. These impressive numbers are largely related to the country’s success in manufacturing and trading, which has lifted millions of people out of poverty.

The trucking industry has played a crucial role in the country’s economic transformation, and currently moves 77% of the total freight-ton volume. Although in 2018, Vietnam jumped from 64th to rank 39th in the World Bank’s Logistics Performance Index—many challenges persist.

At 21% of GDP, logistics costs are a serious pain point that has been stifling the competitiveness of Vietnam’s exports.

The environmental impact of the sector represents another important concern. The Vietnamese fleet comprises mostly small and older trucks, with a significant impact on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and traffic congestion. Overall, the transport sector accounts for about 10% of GHG emissions in the country.

To address these issues, our team conducted the first-ever comprehensive study of Vietnam’s trucking sector, which drew on a nationwide survey of more than 1,400 truck drivers, interviews with 150 private and public stakeholders, and a detailed review of the key factors influencing logistics costs and emissions.
 

Chongqing 2035: Shifting away from quantity to quality to build sustainable cities in China

Xueman Wang's picture

Urban architecture and skyline of Chongqing, China. (Photo: 4045 / iStock)

​Chongqing, the largest municipality in China, is investing in sustainable urban growth.

As China transitions from pursuing high-speed growth at any cost to a growth model that focuses on sustainability, inclusivity, and efficiency, cities like Chongqing are a critical part of this new urbanization strategy.

Cyclone Idai: Building climate and disaster resilience in Mozambique and beyond

Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez's picture
Mozambique after Cyclone Idai. Photo by Denis Onyodi / IFRC / DRK / Climate Centre via Flickr CC

Cyclone Idai is one of the most devastating storms to ever hit Africa, causing catastrophic damage in Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe.
 
Starting off in early March 2019 as a tropical depression, the storm rapidly evolved into a cyclone, affecting over 2 million people and killing close to 1,000 in the three countries affected. The port city of Beira, Mozambique – the hardest hit – is struggling to reemerge from the rubble.

#BuildBetterBefore to save lives and strengthen economies

Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez's picture
 

For those of us who have family and friends living in earthquake and hurricane prone areas, the 1.3 million people that have died in disasters in the last 25 years are more than a staggering statistic. It’s personal.

In this video, Luis Triveno (@luis_triveno), Urban Specialist, sits down with Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez (@Ede_WBG), Senior Director, to discuss what the World Bank is doing to make homes safer – before it’s too late.

How can we use analytical approaches to generate urban climate investments in Africa?

Prashant Kapoor's picture
As the world rushes to reduce the negative impacts of climate change, ambitious sub-national actors are rising to the fore. The recent One Planet Summit exemplifies this trend. Earlier this month, urban leaders joined CEOs, financial institutions, researchers, Heads of State, and more in the adoption of the Africa Pledge, calling for immediate voluntary actions and a specific commitment to invest in sustainable infrastructure across the continent. After all, the infrastructure investments we make today set the agenda for how cities will grow in the future.

For example, Sub-Saharan Africa is largely rural, but is also the region with the fastest urbanization rates. Currently, almost 40 percent of the people live in cities in Sub-Saharan Africa, but this is expected to grow to 60 percent or more by 2050. So while urbanization provides economic and social opportunity, it can overburden traditional municipal resource and service delivery approaches.
 
Figure 1: Urban and Rural Population Growth Rate - excluding high income countries (Source: World Development Indicators)

Changing impact of weather and climate services in response to changing climate

Anna-Maria Bogdanova's picture
Image credit: Elena11 / Shutterstock
Have you ever wondered what your national meteorological agency actually does? I suppose it wouldn’t be inaccurate to say that they can help you decide how to dress, whether or not to carry an umbrella, or water the garden. But their purpose is so much bigger than that.

National meteorological and hydrological services (NMHSs) are responsible for helping people understand, predict and warn of weather- and water-related hazards such as storms, floods, and hurricanes.

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