01 Jul How does Urban Resilience contribute to Civil Defense?
To fully understand the significance of Urban Resilience, experts often focus on how this differs from Civil Protection within a community. While it is true that the definitions of urban resilience and civil protection are different, in practice they share many overlapping factors and have various elements in common, particularly from an international and organizational perspective.
After evaluating the most accurate and current definitions of resilience, we finally settled on the definition from the 100 Resilient Cities program, pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation: Urban Resilience is the capacity of individuals, communities, institutions, businesses, and systems within a city to survive, adapt, and grow no matter what kinds of chronic stresses and acute shocks they experience. The concept of Community Resilience (urban, territorial and national) that the program 100 Resilient Cities reflects, provides a significant and useful idea to rate, evaluate and compare the protection of a community. HAZUR tries to provide an answer to this approach since it considers that Urban Resilience promotes a way to manage the urban system that allows for the optimization of everyday operational functioning. This management integrates transversally, in every decision and at every level, the sense of protection to the community, both in terms of security and sustainability. Urban resilience is the descriptive concept of an attribute, thus making it something that can not only be compared but also measured.
After a full examination of the varying international regulations, we have observed that numerous definitions of Civil Defense have the following elements in common: Civil Defense is the integration of emergency operations including prevention, mitigation, preparation, response or emergency evacuation and recovery and that this is applied to emergencies and disasters in general. The concept is described by a number of terms, each of which has its own specific shade of meaning, such as crisis management, emergency management, emergency preparedness, contingency planning, emergency services, and civil protection. In some countries, civil defense is seen as a paramilitary service, a key part of “total defense”. Civil Protection is a descriptive concept of a supra-organization for intervention, covering all types of activity oriented to the reduction of risk to the civil population in the event of an unwanted impact. In order to fulfil the objective of the protection of the civil population, all the available resources are required, from those involving preventative training (with programs of education and training) to those involving a personal individual sacrifice for the benefit of recovering from a disaster (such as the operators who sealed the Fukushima power plant after the tsunami and nuclear accident) when the very atavistic sense of the survival of the group is in play.
In conclusion, our answer to the question posed in the title, is both conceptual and operative. Conceptually, Civil Protection covers all those things necessary for the integrative protection of the community, whereas Urban Resilience is a concept which promotes a way of managing the community transversally. Operatively, Urban Resilience focuses on optimizing the actions that need to be carried out, whether these be preventative or corrective, in the face of whatever event or situation that interrupts or causes difficulties in the normal operation of a community. In contrast Civil Protection intervenes when there is a risk present for the civil population.
These are complementary concepts, given that strengthening Urban Resilience management is, and will continue to be, at the heart of Civil Defense disaster risk management.
Jaume Guamis, industrial engineer, ex Civil Protection Deputy Manager of Catalonia
Luis Fontanals, industrial engineer, Founder Partner and President of OptiCits