Whole-of-Society Approach to Creating Healthy, Resilient and Sustainable Cities

Jun 27, 2023 | Cities Clusters - COVID-19, Cities Clusters - DRR, Cities Project, News

UNOSSC, UNDRR GETI, PAHO/WHO & WHO conclude joint online training programme with South-South exchange highlighting the role of youth and local communities in future pandemic preparedness

2023 marks the midpoint in the implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the 2030 Agenda and other 2015 agreements, which provides a major opportunity to review the progress and change course towards sustainable and resilient future for all. Collaboration is critical not only with government offices, institutions, or entities responsible for disaster and crisis management, but also with all stakeholders, requiring an all-of-society and all-of-government engagement and partnership for its achievement.

Against this backdrop, the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC), United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction Global Education and Training Institute (UNDRR GETI), Pan American Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) and World Health Organization (WHO) co-organized a four-week certificate training programme from 7 to 27 June 2023, aiming to provide foundation of thoughts for engaging multi-governments and multi-stakeholders, especially most at-risk groups such as women, youth and person with disabilities in DRR and public health emergency response and preparedness.

The closing session on June 27 emphasized the need for coordinated responses and a whole-of-society approach to engage youth and local communities, the role of IGOs, IFIs, Corporate and CSOs, and the use of advanced technological solutions and data science in pandemic preparedness and response efforts.

Representatives from the African Union, World Bank Group, UNDP, Microsoft, OECD and Kenya Red Cross Society joined the panel. 1,255 participants from 133 countries and territories attended the session live.

H.E. Ms. Chido Mpemba, African Union Chairperson’s Special Envoy for Youth, opened the session by highlighting the importance of engaging youth and women, “It becomes increasingly evident that the engagement of young people and women is not only desirable but essential. Their energy, creativity, and unwavering determination hold the key to shaping a more resilient and prosperous Africa.”

Mersedeh Tariverdi, Principal Data Scientist, Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) & Health Global Practice, World Bank Group, introduced how GFDRR initiatives prioritize resilience interventions and investments to target vulnerable groups. She also emphasized the importance of technology and data in improving health systems and building resilience, and the need for connectivity, digital-in-health integration, and leveraging digital tools and data, and engaging youth to use data and technology to address future shocks and disasters.

Dudley Tarlton, Programme Specialist, Health and Development, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), debunked several myths related to COVID-19 with data and evidence found from recent research. In particular, he shared data points to break myths with reference to low-income countries such as: 1 in 3 people have received covid-19 vaccines and 4 times death rate in lower income countries than high income countries. He also shed light on how the international community can refocus attention on advancing universal health coverage, as well as the role of international organizations in future pandemic preparedness.

Kishore Kumar Thangavelu, Corporate Social Responsibility Program Manager, Philanthropies India, Microsoft, focused on how the private sector used data-driven technologies to strengthen the healthcare ecosystem and improve access to critical resources. He shared how Microsoft through its’ CSR programs supported society during challenging times of covid-19 waves in India, as well through the sustainable engagements to share innovative technology and solutions through AI for Humanitarian Response for vulnerable areas and communities, AI for Resilient Cities for DRR analysis and education at house-hold level.

Pietro Gagliardi, Public Governance Directorate, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), shared analysis and practices on involving young people and youth organizations across institutions in policymaking process related to disaster risk and crisis management and also shared how a youth-centric government investment can help yield incredible social economic returns and gains in building societal resilience in the face of shocks.

Stacy Agatha Pekke, Disaster Risk Reduction Officer at Kenya Red Cross, highlighted the importance of improving mental health support during crises and practices of youth and volunteers from the field.

Dingding Sun, Programmer Coordination Specialist, UNOSSC, moderated the session and introduced a recap video featuring highlights of the past three sessions.

On behalf of the co-organizers, Sanjaya Bhatia (Head, UNDRR GETI), Dr Stella Chungong (Director, Health Security Preparedness, WHO) and Xiaojun Grace Wang (Trust Fund Director, UNOSSC) wrapped up the final session: Health is a collective responsibility and a whole-of-societal approach is necessary to achieve our goals and objectives. Inclusion of youths and persons with disability is crucial for our work as we strive to better prepare for future health threats and ensure that no one is left behind.

This joint training was held for the fourth consecutive year. Since 2020, UNOSSC, UNDRR GETI, PAHO/WHO and WHO have jointly organized three annual certificate online training programmes focusing on harnessing South-South Cooperation, DRR and integration of health emergency response and preparedness in building resilience cities and societies, responding to different phases of the outbreak, emergency response and recovery of COVID-19 pandemic. The past three annual training series were well attended by over 6000+ participants from 155 countries and territories.