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New OpenWHO training course launched on Transitioning to complex risk management and resilient urban futures: harnessing south-south cooperation and learning from COVID-19

Area of work:Urban Preparedness, Risk Communications
Published: 13 October 2022

WHO has launched a new online training course on the OpenWHO platform. This training serves as an introductory training for urban leaders, planners and practitioners, aiming to (1) Increase the understanding and capacities to manage complex and systematic disaster risks, enhance public health emergency response preparedness, and South-South cooperation, (2) Better prepare city stakeholders for transitioning to living with COVID-19 pandemic, fostering collective collaboration and better preparing cities for future crises - especially health emergencies and uncertainties, and (3) Facilitate city-to-city partnerships in South-South and triangular cooperation (SSTC) towards sustainable development. The training is jointly developed by the UN Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC), the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction Global Education and Training Institute (UNDRR GETI), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

Urbanization continues to rise at an unprecedented rate over the next three decades, from 56 per cent in 2021 to 68 per cent in 2050. While the future of humanity is undoubtedly urban where cities are hubs of jobs and opportunities, increase in population density, and informal settlement in high-risk urban areas are mounting challenges for urban populations.

Since 2020, cities around the world have faced even more challenges with the COVID-19 pandemic which exacerbates the vulnerabilities and brings tremendous impact on urban health and well-being. The virus has taken the lives of millions and the public health and social measures brought a huge economic impact to citizens. The COVID-19 pandemic reveals the new reality: cities are living with uncertainties and facing much more complex risks. In order to transition to resilient and sustainable urban futures, cities need to evolve to reflect the interconnectedness of people, planet and prosperity. Cities must transition to systematic risk governance with enhanced understanding of systematic risks.

Business as usual will not lead to changes. Cities are at the forefront of opportunities to learn from the systematic impact of the pandemic and the complexity of risks amidst climate emergencies. Local authorities are in the vital position to ensure climate, health and other risks are integrated in the city planning and financing processes, allowing city stakeholders to collaborate and take collective actions to reduce risks. Equally important is the mutual learning and support among cities across countries with their tested and innovative experiences. Strengthening municipal governments’ capacities in understanding the systematic nature of risks, disaster risk reduction, public health emergency response, as well as their abilities to collaborate and learn from each other’s experiences remain critical to the success of cities in this transformed world.

The Buenos Aires outcome document of the second High-level United Nations Conference on South-South Cooperation (BAPA+40) in 2019 recognized that local authorities play a growingly indispensable role in South-South and triangular cooperation which can take different forms such as knowledge sharing, training and capacity building, and technology exchange in various thematic areas including disaster risk mitigation and climate change. Such cooperation can support cities, especially in developing countries, in achieving sustainable development.

This training provides an opportunity for local authorities and urban development practitioners to mutually learn and share experience in transitioning to managing complex risks and a resilient future. Jointly organized by the UN Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC), the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) and the World Health Organization (WHO) and Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), it builds upon the prior two editions which were held annually in 2020 and 2021.

Please click here to view the course on OpenWHO