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From Japan to Bhutan: Improving the resilience of cultural heritage sites

Barbara Minguez Garcia's picture
This page in: 日本語
 Barbara Minguez Garcia 2018
When it comes to their heritage buildings, both Bhutan and Japan have one common enemy: Fire. A view of Wangduephodrang Dzong in Bhutan which was destroyed by fire in 2012. Credit: Barbara Minguez Garcia 2018

About 2,749 miles, three countries, and a sea separate Kyoto, Japan, and Thimphu, Bhutan. The countries’ languages are different, and so are their histories.

But when it comes to their heritage buildings, both nations have one common enemy: Fire.

And to help prevent fire hazards, there’s a lot Bhutan can learn from Japan’s experience.

To that end, a Bhutanese delegation visited Tokyo and Kyoto last year to attend the Resilient Cultural Heritage and Tourism Technical Deep Dive to learn best practices on risk preparedness and mitigation, and apply them to Bhutan’s context.

Such knowledge is critical as Bhutan’s communities live in and around great heritage sites.

Are cities ready for their increasingly aging populations?

Ashna Mathema's picture
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Virtually everywhere, the share of “older persons,” aged 60 years or over, is increasing. The number of older people globally is projected to grow from 901 million in 2015 to 1.4 billion in 2030 to 2.1 billion in 2050. In 2015, one in eight people worldwide was 60 or older; in 2030, this number will be one in six people, and by 2050, one in five people.

Aging – and by the same token, aging in cities – is an outcome of increasing longevity and declining birthrates, and is currently more prevalent in wealthier economies. However, between 2015 and 2030, the rate of growth of elderly populations is expected to be highest in Latin America and the Caribbean, followed by Asia and Africa. Not only is this rate likely to exceed that of the developed countries in the past, but it is also likely to occur at much lower levels of national income, and weaker systems of social protection (pensions, social security, etc.)


This demographic shift will have far-reaching social and economic consequences. Societies will not just be older, they will be more active for longer periods of their lives compared to previous generations, and they will function – and need to be understood – differently. Accordingly, it is important to recognize that aging is not a “problem” per se, but that it can become a challenge if the social, physical, economic, and policy environment is not adapted to demographic change. Aging is also changing the way money is spent and, as such, presents a massive opportunity for companies to tap into the “longevity economy” and to harness new innovations and disruptive technologies to increase the autonomy of older people.

From May 21-25, 2018, representatives from 15 cities in 12 countries visited Japan for a Technical Deep Dive on Aging Cities to learn about the fundamental paradigm shifts necessary to ensure that their cities offer a vibrant, productive, and livable environment for all residents, including the elderly.  In this video, Anna Wellenstein (Director, Strategy and Operations), Maitreyi Das (Practice Manager / Global Lead, Social Inclusion) and Phil Karp (Lead Knowledge Management Specialist) discuss the growing importance for cities and countries to understand, plan for, and adapt to the dramatic – but predictable – demographic shift that is occurring globally.

Five ways cities can curb plastic waste

Silpa Kaza's picture

As the world observes World Environment Day this week, we should be mindful that there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish by 2050 if nothing is done, according to the Ellen & MacArthur Foundation.
 
The negative impacts that plastic is having on the environment and human health is profoundly evident:
  • Respiratory issues are increasing because of air pollution from burning plastic.
  • Animal lifespans are shortened because of consuming plastic.
  • Littered plastic is clogging drains and causing floods.
  • And unmanaged plastic is contaminating our precious oceans and waterways…

Making the built environment more resilient: lessons learned from Japan

Keiko Sakoda's picture
Photo: Balint Földesi / Flickr CC


Globally, up to 1.4 million people are moving into urban areas per week, and estimates show that nearly 1 billion new dwelling units will be built by 2050 to support this growing population. The way we build our cities today directly impacts the safety of future generations.

So how do we ensure that we are building healthy, safe, and resilient cities?

Building safer, more inclusive, and more resilient cities

Ellen Hamilton's picture
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Cities are where most people live and most economic activity takes place. Cities bring opportunities, but not equally for all residents. A lack of access, rights, and opportunities for people within cities undermines the positive role cities can play. 


When people cannot find a decent and safe place to live, or are discriminated against because of their race, religion or where they live, or lack the skills, education and transportation needed to find a job to support themselves, something needs to change.

To make cities safer, more inclusive, and more resilient to a range of shocks and stresses, mayors, planners, and other city leaders should support integrated approaches promoting social, economic, and spatial inclusion. City leaders need to carry out this work in close partnership with the communities themselves.

From April 23–27, 2018, representatives from 16 cities in 13 countries visited Japan for a Technical Deep Dive on Safe, Inclusive, and Resilient Cities to learn from one another about improving urban safety, inclusion and resilience. In this video, Jefferson Koije (Mayor of Monrovia, Liberia), Ellen Hamilton (World Bank Lead Urban Specialist), and Phil Karp (World Bank Lead Knowledge Management Officer) discuss how cities can address these crucial aspects of urban resilience. Watch the video to learn more.

“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” – William Faulkner

Barbara Minguez Garcia's picture
Ponto-cho Alley, Kyoto. (Barbara Minguez Garcia / World Bank, 2016)
Ponto-cho Alley, Kyoto. (Barbara Minguez Garcia / World Bank, 2016)
 

Ponto-cho mapIt is 7:45 p.m. in Ponto-cho, the historic narrow alley at the core of the Japanese city of Kyoto. Close to the Kaburenjo Theater – where still today Geikos and Maikos (Kyoto Geishas) practice their dances and performances – the traditional adjoining buildings with restaurants and shops are full of guests. Local people, tourists, students… On this Saturday in mid-April, the warm weather brings a lot of people to the streets nearby.

At 7:46 p.m., a M 5.1 earthquake strikes. Seven seconds of swaying. It doesn’t cause major damage, but it is enough to spread panic among a group of tourists. Screams, shoving, confusion… drinks spill, candles fall, people rush.

At 7:49 p.m., the fire starts spreading through the old wooden structures, also threatening the historic theater. Access is difficult due to the narrow streets and panicking crowd.

What happens next?

It could be a fire in the Ponto-cho traditional alley. It could be an earthquake shaking the historic center of Kathmandu (Nepal), the archaeological site of Bagan (Myanmar), or the historic town of Amatrice (Italy). It could be Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines or Hurricane Irma in the Caribbean, blasting sites with rain, flooding, and gale-force winds.

Cultural heritage assets around the world are at risk. They are often vulnerable due to their age, as well as previous interventions and restorations made without disaster risk or overall site stability in mind. Heritage sites reflect legacies, traditions, and identities. With all this, they carry a large cultural and emotional value of what could be lost – certainly beyond the traditional calculus of economic losses.

In many cases, it is not possible or advisable to conduct reconstruction on cultural heritage sites post-disaster. Therefore, the essence and soul of a cultural heritage site is at risk of being lost forever, making preparedness and preservation even more critical.

How can we protect these special places and traditions from the threat of natural hazards?

Learning from Japan: PPPs for infrastructure resilience

Sanae Sasamori's picture
Also available in: Español | 日本語 


Photo: MediaFOTO/PIXTA

In March 2011, the Great East Japan Earthquake struck Japan, unleashing a tsunami that left some 20,000 people dead or missing. Sendai, the capital city of Miyagi Prefecture and a regional economic hub, was heavily affected by the disaster. About 500,000 residents in the city lost access to water, and the city’s primary wastewater treatment plant was completely submerged by the tsunami. Also, the tsunami damaged 325 kilometers of coastal railway assets and flooded about 100 kilometers of national highway in the Tohoku region, leading to the immediate closure of inland transport access to the devastated towns in need of assistance.
 
Four years later, while the recovery effort from the earthquake and tsunami was still underway, a private consortium signed a 30-year concession to operate Sendai Airport, making it the first state-owned airport in Japan operated by the private sector. This success was welcomed by policymakers and public-private partnership (PPP) practitioners with surprise—how could it be possible for a private operator to make a long-term investment decision in such a disaster-prone region?

South-South and practitioner-practitioner knowledge exchange: An effective way to share, replicate, and scale up solutions to development challenges

Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez's picture
There is a growing demand from World Bank clients and partners to learn about development solutions from fellow practitioners, particularly those who have faced challenges similar to the ones they are confronting in their own countries.

Whether they take the form of:
  • two-country exchanges through Study Tours or Expert Visits,
  • or multi-country exchanges in the form of Technical Deep Dives,
  • Conferences,
  • or Workshops,
South-South and practitioner-practitioner knowledge exchanges are proving to be a highly effective approach to sharing, replicating, adapting and scaling up successful development solutions and for avoiding repetition of failed approaches.  Practitioner exchanges are particularly effective for sharing “how-to” or tacit knowledge about solutions, as such tips and tricks tend not be fully recorded in written descriptions or case studies.

In addition to growing recognition of the power of knowledge exchange, there is also growing evidence of the importance of good design and of attention to results.

The Art of Knowledge Exchange Guidebook

With this in mind, the World Bank compiled “tips and tricks” drawn from research on knowledge management practice and from the experience of several hundred South-South knowledge exchanges financed by the multi-donor South-South Facility Trust Fund. The resulting guidebook, The Art of Knowledge Exchange, offers a practical, step-by-step framework for design, implementation and monitoring of results-focused knowledge exchange.

With support from the Government of Japan through the Tokyo Development Learning Center, the World Bank’s Social, Urban, Rural, and Resilience Global Practice has recently published a customized version of the guide for practitioners in the urban, social, land, and resilience sectors.
While the guide contains information that is of value to all those involved in knowledge exchange at local, national, regional, and global levels, it is particularly geared to those who are engaged in brokering of knowledge exchange between seekers and providers of knowledge and expertise on development challenges and solutions in the areas of urban and social development, land administration, and resilience.

It includes case studies and examples of successful knowledge exchange initiatives drawn from the experience of World Bank staff, partners such as the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities Network and other development practitioners who have successfully integrated knowledge exchange as a part of a larger change process.

In this video, Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez, Senior Director of the Social, Urban, Rural and Resilience Global Practice discusses the new guide with Phil Karp and Hywon Cha Kim from the Practice’s Knowledge Management and Learning team. [[avp asset="/content/dam/videos/ecrgp/2018/jun-19/art_of_knowledge_exchange_hd.flv"]]/content/dam/videos/ecrgp/2018/jun-19/art_of_knowledge_exchange_hd.flv[[/avp]]

How do city leaders get things done? Learning from mayors in Japan

Sameh Wahba's picture
Also available in: Español | 日本語 
Picture of the Competitive Cities Technical Deep Dive participants enjoying a walk through the Minato Mirai 21 area (with the Cosmo Clock in the background), which aims to concentrate high-value added activities and a high quality of life in an integrated urban core in downtown Yokohama. Photo Credit: TDLC
The task of mayors and city leaders is no longer limited to providing efficient urban services to their citizens. Job creation is at the forefront of the economic development challenge globally.

Cities need jobs and opportunities for their citizens and the means to generate tax revenues to fund projects that meet their populations’ growing demand for basic services. The WBG flagship report on Competitive Cities outlines how creating jobs in urban areas – urgently but also at scale– is essential.
 
In November, 2017, we spent a week with approximately 30 city and national government officials and policymakers from several countries, including Argentina, Chile, Croatia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Malaysia, Philippines, Romania, South Africa, Tunisia and Uganda. These leaders represented diverse cities across the world, all with a common objective – how to make their cities and regions more competitive?

Many were dealing with a fragmented institutional landscape, often with overlapping jurisdictions – necessitating clarity of institutional circuits and processes. Some struggled to coordinate economic development strategies with private sector. Lack of adequate sub-national socio-economic data to drive evidence-based policy making compounded issues. City leaders are not looking for a lesson in theory – but evidence of what works and what doesn’t, and practical, implementable examples of how to get things done.
 
We spent the week as part of a Technical Deep Dive, studying and living the experience of two exceptional Japanese cities - Yokohama and Kobe. These cities have dealt with:
  • population influx,
  • industrialized at a rapid pace,
  • responded to environmental challenges,
  • reached the technological frontier,
  • undergone a housing bubble,
  • and even went through a major disaster (the Kobe earthquake) and recovered from it.

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