Planning safer cities

An ASEAN training course on disaster risk management for urban planning practitioners

Supported by the Government of Canada through the Integrated Disaster Risk Management (IDRM) Fund administered by the Asian Development Bank (ADB). This training course was developed by ICEM – International Centre for Environmental Management.

Ensuring safe and resilient urban growth in the ASEAN region is a huge challenge. The region suffers significantly from the impacts of disasters, and this is set to intensify due to climate change. Data in the last three decades show that disasters triggered by natural hazards have resulted in more than 400,000 deaths, 400 million affected population, and US$135 billion direct physical losses in the ASEAN region.¹ Planning Safer Cities is an introduction to a training course for urban planning practitioners in the ASEAN region, designed to improve their capacity to reduce disaster risk in urban areas. Ultimately, the course provides tools to make the cities in the region safer. It covers what disaster risk management is, what building urban resilience requires, how that applies to urban planners and what urban planning actions can be taken.

This training course has been developed to support the implementation of Phase II of the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER) Work Programme 2016–2020, which has identified BUILD SAFELY as one of eight priority programmes.² BUILD SAFELY recognizes strengthening disaster and climate resilience of secondary cities as a priority, especially given the rapid urbanization and increasing disaster risk in ASEAN cities.

Download the full course here

The course includes the following items:

> Course guidance notes

Please read these before starting the course

Module I: Urban disaster risk in the ASEAN region 

This module contains the following sessions:

  • Session 1: Understanding disaster risk in urban areas
  • Session 2: Disaster risk management and the characteristics of resilient urban systems
  • Session 3: Importance of urban planning for managing disaster risk

Module II: Integrating disaster risk reduction into urban planning and development

This module contains the following sessions:

  • Session 1: National and sub-national urban planning processes
  • Session 2: Land use planning for reducing disaster risk
  • Session 3: Development control for reducing disaster risk
  • Session 4: Greenfield sites for reducing disaster risk
  • Session 5: Urban upgrading and redevelopment for reducing disaster risk

Module III: Integrating disaster risk reduction into urban infrastructure planning and design

This module contains the following sessions:

  • Session 1: Urban infrastructure planning to reduce disaster risk
  • Session 2: Infrastructure planning for different urban sectors to reduce disaster risk

> Training course purpose: To improve the ability of urban planning practitioners in the ASEAN region to integrate disaster risk reduction into urban planning, thereby helping to build urban resilience across the region. To do this, knowledge and capacity needs building to help practitioners understand risk, carry out risk assessments, and recognize how disaster risk reduction and resilience building measures can be incorporated in the development of urban policies, strategies, plans and projects.

This self-learning course also aims to increase the outreach, sustainability and impact of the training materials.

> Target audience: Urban planning practitioners including architects, engineers, urban planners, policy makers, academics, government officers and others involved in urban planning, working both at the national and subnational levels within the ASEAN Member States (AMS). These urban planning practitioners influence where and how urban growth occurs but may have limited capacity in disaster risk management, particularly in some AMSs. Specifically, on integrating disaster risk into urban planning, to help the sustainable and resilient development of their cities.

> The modality of the training course: This cost-free self-learning course may be downloaded and completed independently by anyone and does not need delivery or moderation by a training institute or other organization. The course includes PowerPoints, written and video case studies, handout reading material and activities. The course takes approximately two and a half days to complete but does not need to be undertaken in one go.

> Training course framework: The training relates to a typical urban planning process relevant to the AMS. The materials are relevant to processes and procedures that architects, engineers, urban planners and others involved in urban planning are familiar with and apply in their work. Approaches, methods, and tools for integrating disaster risk into the various components or steps within urban planning, to improve urban resilience, are provided.

> Feedback from course participants: Before finalizing the course material, a Regional Training Event was conducted with urban planning practitioners and professionals in the AMS, piloting the course material. Participants provided the following feedback:

Nguyen Ngoc Quang

Gabrielle Ann B. Guevara

Hsu Wutyee Htun

“Vietnam is one of the four countries most damaged by climate change in the world. So we have to do many things to prepare for climate change. In my agency, the Ministry of Construction, we are writing a law about urban development, which includes one chapter about climate change. This law should be completed in the next year. It’s very important for us to include urban development and disaster risk in this chapter. From this course, we gained new experience and knowledge from ICEM, ADB and many other organizations to influence our law. This is very important.” – Nguyen Ngoc Quang, Officer, Project Appraisal of Urban Development Investment, Urban Development Agency, Ministry of Construction, Vietnam

“The Philippines is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world, so it’s really valuable for us to properly mainstream disaster risk management in the country. A lot of things from the workshop and reading material were very useful. Since we already have existing initiatives in the Philippines, I also found it very beneficial that we could share best practices from different ASEAN countries.” – Gabrielle Ann B. Guevara, Junior Program Officer, League of Cities of the Philippines

“I work as a civil engineer, and as the course work is related to urban planning and disaster risk management, it’s very relevant.” – Hsu Wutyee Htun, Civil Engineer, Myanmar Earthquake Committee, Myanmar Engineering Society

Shahrin bin Mohd Jawie

Dr. May Celine Vicente

Nguyen Viet Dung

“I can foresee that lessons learned from this workshop are very crucial. It lays the foundation for how structural and non-structural approaches to disaster risk reduction can be made holistically.” – Shahrin bin Mohd Jawie, Assistant Director, Fire and Rescue Department, Ministry of Home Affairs, Negara Brunei Darussalam

“I enjoyed participating in the course because it enhances our knowledge on disaster risks and resilience, especially in an urban setting and particularly in coastal urban settings. With that knowledge we are better able to grasp the complexity of risk and resilience to address these better.” – Dr. May Celine Vicente, Laboratory head, Geomatics for Environment and Development Manila Observatory, Philippines

“The course provides instruction on infrastructure response to disaster risk. This is very useful to me because I am currently undertaking research on guidance for the design and planning of water spaces and green spaces to facilitate runoff and mitigate flood inundation in urban areas. This session has provided me with a lot of information that can contribute to my research.” – Nguyen Viet Dung, Vice Director, Institute for Environmental Planning, Urban and Rural Infrastructure, Ministry of Construction, Vietnam

> Course modulators: The course material was developed by a team of international experts in urban planning and disaster risk management from ICEM, with input from ASEAN-based authorities.

1. Data from EM-DAT: The Emergency Events Database – Université Catholique de Louvain (UCL) – CRED, D. Guha-Sapir –, Brussels, Belgium for period 1988-2017.
2. Aadmer Work Programme 2016-2020 – One Vision One Identity One Community,