Bringing people together to build urban resilience—a new collaborative project between the City of Skopje and UNDP

Oct 9, 2015

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the City of Skopje are working together with stakeholders, residents and experts on the development of Skopje’s first ever collaborative strategy to tackle climate change.

Over the next few weeks, the ‘Resilient Skopje’ project will gather people’s views and expert opinions to draw up a series of measures and recommendations to make the capital more resilient to the negative impacts of climate change.

The risks of natural disasters in towns and cities are increasing throughout the world with the onset of climate change and the unprecedented growth of the global urban population.

Traditional urban planning and development have given little consideration to the consequences of hydro-meteorological risks and other disasters associated with climate change. And Skopje is no exception to this rule.

“Skopje’s location on mountain slopes is what makes it such a scenic capital,” said UNDP Resident Representative Louisa Vinton. “But as climate change brings us extreme weather events with rising frequency, the city faces a heightened risk of flooding and landslides. That is why we think it is so important to build resilience and ensure that city institutions and the local population work together to prevent disasters.”

A series of 15 creative workshops will be held with each of the municipalities of the city of Skopje. The workshops will bring together citizens and representatives of civil society, local administration and experts to ensure that everyone has a say.

This highly inclusive approach will be facilitated and complemented by employing a state-of-the-art methodology called Foresight eXplorer, a system for collaborative foresight that provides the building-blocks for modelling and exploring alternative scenarios to tackle climate change.

This interactive methodology, funded by UNDP’s Innovation Facility through the support of the Government of Denmark, will be used to help identify the priority sectors most vulnerable to climate change.

“Using foresight eXplorer felt more like playing a game of Monopoly with a group of friends than hard work,” says 24-year-old Natalija Najdova, from Skopje, who was first to give the method a hands-on test, “but the conclusions it helped us to reach were really impressive. For example, the cards we selected revealed that one of the main things we need to work on is raising public awareness about climate change and trying to get people to make changes in their own behaviour.”

Once the priority sectors most vulnerable to climate change have been identified, UNDP and the City of Skopje will continue to work with experts and city authorities on defining the corresponding priority actions to be implemented to ensure that Skopje is more resilient to climate change. The project will adopt a Smart City approach to the challenges of rapid urbanization and climate change, aiming to optimize scarce city resources and increase urban resilience.

This strategy is being prepared as part of a wider project called “ICT for Disaster Risk Reduction”, currently being implemented in Skopje, Yerevan and Ungheni, which aims to build greater disaster and climate resilience by increasing institutional capacity, mobilizing knowledge and transferring appropriate best-practice innovation technologies.