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UK cities look to safeguard services against disasters

UK cities are set to be part of scheme to safeguard their essential services and infrastructure against natural disasters.

Bristol, London and Glasgow have all signed up to the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities initiative, backed by waste giant Veolia and reinsurance company Swiss Re.

The scheme is intended to advise authorities responsible for cities’ budgets on investing in infrastructure to ensure that services such waste collection are not crippled by extreme weather or terrorism.

According to Veolia, cities are already pledging more money to protect energy supplies and perishable goods in crisis situations, and the programme is intended to help them allocate funds efficiently.

An evaluation of potential threats to the cities and an assessment of the costs of rebuilding infrastructure are part of the plan.

Speaking to MRW at Veolia’s HQ in Paris, group chief risk officer Oliver Wild said that 67 cities had signed up to the scheme in the past 18 months, with the remaining 33 expected to be appointed by the end of the year.

The first city the initiative focused on was New Orleans, which was devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the most costly natural disaster in the US. Some 230,000 residents were forced to move from the city, with 70% eventually returning.

Wild (pictured) said a more resilient infrastructure would save a city the taxes lost when residents move away.

He said the measures being implemented with New Orleans now will reduce 85% of the effect of a future weather event. For every $1 invested ahead of a disaster, he said that $5 would be saved afterwards.

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