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A Latin American journey for building urban resilience: Teresina's Actions for Resilience Report

Gabriela Uchoa



Wednesday, June 29, 2022


Multifunction Hall Room 20
City of Teresina
Building Resilience for Sustainable Urban Futures
NE 120


From blackouts to flooding, migration to epidemics, all cities face a range of shocks and stresses, natural or human-made. Today, our cities and citizens are facing new and amplified challenges as a result of rapid urbanisation, a changing climate and political instability. These phenomena increase the exposure and vulnerability to hazards and can trigger or worsen disasters. Further stress is placed on our urban areas as the effect of climate change become more severe and frequent. In order to mitigate upcoming climate changes and reduce its negative impacts on people, we need to build resilience in our cities by qualifying and strengthening the capacities of local government and its partners, including the local populations. Resilience offers a crucial meeting point among different yet essentially similar paradigms in urban development. To be truly resilient, cities should work towards sustainability to ensure positive long-term impacts, and in the same manner, being truly sustainable entails incorporating resilience to drive and protect development goals. This section proposes to present a way forward on resilience building. Through the example of the city of Teresina, we aim to share the journey of an intermediate Latin American city, placed in a global warming hotspot, in overcoming limitations and challenges to collectively build a roadmap to strengthen resilient thinking. On the one hand, the city of Teresina, as an intermediary capital with high vulnerability to climate change, faces a great challenge for building climate resilience. On the other, the city’s size, with population below one million inhabitants, represents a favourable opportunity for positive change. The main challenges for resilience building in the city are the transition from ineffective models of urban development and consumption of resources, and the limited capacity of local government to respond to the multisectoral and multi-stakeholder complexity of this issue. In this journey, our starting point is 2019, with a joint action by the Teresina's Municipality, the Government of Brazil and the UN- Habitat to sign a Cooperation Agreement for the implementation of the Urban Resilience Program of Teresina. Through this agreement, for 2 years, the parties worked together implementing the UN-Habitat’s City Resilience Global Programme to build technical capacity for urban resilience in the municipality and produce a strategic action plan for the city, called Recommendations on Actions for Resilience and Sustainability (RAR-S Teresina). The RAR-S Teresina is a highly informative publication, which in addition to better assisting local government in decision-making for building resilience, brings inspiration to thousands of cities in the global south. Intermediary urbes like Teresina, which struggle with technical and financial resource scarcity and have before them the overwhelming challenge of climate adaptation, have in this session a possible way forward.


The overarching goal of this event is to inspire cities with the same profile as Teresina to develop sustainable development in their resilience journey. This profile consists of cities that are not so large, but that already have a significant population size, with challenges involving existing natural and economic resources, and also technical capacity. A common outline is also the existence of problems resulting from accelerated and unplanned urbanisation, resulting in a pressure of emerging challenges such as climate change on their already vulnerable urban systems. For that matter, it is essential to understand the whole process, starting from the voices of its inhabitants, the postulation of major problems by the local government, and the call for capacity building to cope with these challenges. From this perception, the immediate goal is the dissemination of a possible path to mainstream resilient thinking inside local governments, especially from a developing context - Teresina being a great example. Based on one particular analysis, it is possible to pursue deliverables that can contribute in different scales and timeframes towards sustainable and resilient cities, mainly driven by consolidated global development agendas, such as the New Urban Agenda, the Paris Agreement, the Sendai Framework, and the 2030 Agenda.

Session speakers

Ms. Rosa Suriñach
Coordinator, Partnerships, Advocacy and Outreach
Ms. Mariana Fiuza
Urban Sustainability Advisor
City of Teresina
Mr. Sergio Lopez
Director of Urban Planning
City of Medellin
Mr. Xavier Matilla
Chief Architect
City of Barcelona
Mr. Josep Canals
Ms. Maria Galindo
Director of the Urban Agenda
Regional Government of Catalonia