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Sri Lanka Army

Defenders of the Nation

30th August 2018 15:25:54 Hours

“Governments, Private Sector & Civil Society, together should Ensure Urban Security” - Dr (Ms) Lauren Twort

Touching on the timely concerns regarding ‘Urban Security in the 21st Century’, Dr (Ms) Lauren Twort, Research Fellow, Defence, Industries and Social Programme, Royal United Services Institute in UK in her speech to the Session 1 admits that respective state machinery and civil society should join hands together to ensure urban security.

Especially after 9/11, the critical roles of cities were revealed as key strategic sites of military, economic, cultural and representational struggle.What is Urban Security?

Maintenance of day-to-day community activities and functions of society are important.Disaster management, low-probability, high impact events therefore relate to Urban Planning, Urban Security, Urban Resilience, Resilience as proactive rather than reactive, Shift from military security to human security, Protection of people is associated with protection of national security.

Range of threats to urban security such as Natural hazards, Urban violence, Human-induced threats, Open armed conflict, Endemic community violence, Organized crime, Anomic crime, are some of them, exacerbated by climate change.

In Sri Lanka during the first few months of 2018, floods and landslides affected 19 districts, killed at least 21 people, 400,000 displaced, spread of flu, dengue, cholera, followed. In 2017, they affected 15 districts, at least 209 killed, with 600,000 persons affected.

Between the years 2007-2011, government expenditure on food aid and relief supporting expenses due to natural disasters exceeded Rs. 1.7 billion (National Disaster Relief Services Centre).

Industrial activity was also disrupted in 2016 with factories hit by floods which caused huge economic losses. Sri Lanka has been hit by economic losses equivalent 0.2 percent of its GDP over a 20-year period due to natural disasters 1997-2016.

Meanwhile, the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), has said that the cost of natural disasters on Sri Lanka’s economy amounted to 1 percent of GDP in 2017 alone.

Important steps are being taken to implement Sri Lanka’s urban vision, recognizing need to improve resilience and social preparedness

Threats aimed at cities in the 21st century are Terrorism and Cyber threats, National urban policies, Stronger urban governance and Reinvigorated long-term and integrated urban and territorial planning and design and effective financing frameworks

Ways Forward: National level

Multi hazard/risk approach and trans disciplinary working

Diversifying capabilities for risk assessment and improving inter-agency collaborations.

Authorities must become institutionally adaptable. Better data collection, research and exchange of best practices.Consider risks in a holistic fashion.

Most tools are targeted to experts and decision-makers with only a few addressing citizen capabilities

The importance of soft tools- changing social, political and economic conventions are often as crucial to the success of city resilience as upgrading physical assets

Shift away from centralised state protection to encouraging citizens to take measures.

Shared responsibility between governments, private sector and members of civil society will become imperative for maintenance of urban security and disaster management.

How urban public safety is handled in the 21st century will determine citizens’ perceptions of the accountability and effectiveness of the state in upholding the social contract with its citizens.

Safe in the City: Urban spaces are the new frontier for international security says Vanda Felbab-Brown.