UIC Barcelona hosted the ‘Executive Education & Business Challenges Forum’, a four-day virtual event that brought together more than 30 CEOs and entrepreneurs from renowned national and international corporations last May 6th. In total, eleven debate sessions were held, consisting of round tables with a wide variety of experts. Carmen Mendoza Arroyo, Director of our Master program, organized the panel ‘Climate Impact emergencies: cooperation, development and prevention in order to delve into the impacts climate change actions have on urban and rural environments; a relevant topic of our Masters’ program. The effect of climate issues unfolds in a complex way producing forced migrations, natural disasters and inequality. Hence, the panel addressed the topic from complementary perspectives. Nuria Gasulla, Director General of the research department at Civil Defence of the Generalitat de Catalunya, shared her experience on risk prevention and detection from the public sector’s perspective. Natalia Anguera, Director of the Catalan Committee of UNHCR, focused on migration and displacement caused by climate emergencies. And finally, Mariona Gonzalez, Coordinator of Intermón Oxfam, shared her experience on the resilient development of rural areas. MICSEA master’s program tackles climate change from plural perspectives, cases and, therefore, our guests’ experiences and backgrounds are representative of an integrated overview of the problem.
Nuria Gasulla works as Head of research in the Civil Defence department at Generalitat de Catalunya. Her work focuses on the prevention of climate change risks. Within the public administration, they develop natural and social risk analysis, which may affect the safety of vulnerable populations. They coordinate public and private institutions to research ’emergency situations’ from prevention to immediate relief actions. The technical work carried out in the department includes the analysis of social vulnerability, emergency response, community resilience and the analysis of possible climate emergency scenarios. What are the causes, probabilities and what would be the impact in each specific scenario? To tackle this uncertainty, they work on several international projects. One of them, at the European level, is the project Recipe (https://recipe.ctfc.cat/). They work on the compilation of studies that have been developed in recent years on climate emergency scenarios. Climatic issues must be handled through international collaboration to compare case studies and develop joint strategies such as: creating awareness, improving and updating policies, investment for risk prevention, detection and coordinated actions. In short, this international strategy is critical to respond to climate emergency, creating a path towards the 2030 horizon and focusing on prevention and climate adaptation. In Nuria’s work, the global framework and the local perspective are intimately linked.
Regarding environmental refugees’ settlements, Natalia Anguera from the Catalan Committee of UNHCR asks: What do refugees have to do with climate change? Climate change is an increasing cause of migratory movements; it is already the reality of thousands of people displaced by climate issues. It is also relevant to point out the environmental impact generated by informal settlements regarding waste, water, etc. UNHCR facilitates data to provide an overview of the effects of migratory movements; they have calculated that 1% of the world’s population is forcibly displaced. In the case of displacements caused by conflict or catastrophe, the first security measures taken are access to water, food and shelter. Nevertheless, often the periods of displacement are prolonged – the average stay in refugee camps is 17 years – and, consequently, programs are adapted to cover other needs such as employment, scholarships for education, or the promotion of sports. UNHCR officially recognises that climate change produces forced movements; however, to this day, it is not recognised as such internationally and therefore, governments are not guaranteeing the necessary protection status to a person in this situation. For years, UNHCR has created a climate change advisory that works on three main pillars: the legislative and political to facilitate the visibility of climate asylum cases; the ‘UNHCR Operations’ where they work to reduce the environmental impact generated by refugee camps; and, finally, UNHCR has created a climate impact reduction program in its infrastructure such as offices, transportation and production, contributing to a green transition.
The last intervention, by Mariona Gonzalez emphasized the link of the effects of climate change on development strategies. Mariona Gonzalez’s work at Intermón Oxfam is focused on the development of communities in more than 90 countries where the impact of climate change is direct. Intemons’ main objective is to fight against social and economic inequality in rural areas at risk. They always work with local organisations that are already established in each area as part of their civil society and know the real needs in each case. The effects of climate change increase hunger, poverty and inequality while reversing the achievements of development cooperation projects. Hence, Oxfam is working on answering the following question: how can we build societies and economies with lower emissions and build climate resilience? The main strategies they are promoting are adaptation, resilience and mitigation. Several of Intermóns’ programs help the most vulnerable populations – like woman and children – to become resilient and prepare for the possibility of climate emergencies. The lines of work developed by Intermón are water security and sanitation systems in emergency contexts and the promotion of fair labour and food security.
On the other hand, they work with data and research to have accurate information on the actual impact of the crisis and generate a political effect on regulations in favour of the most vulnerable populations. Data analysis helps to establish rigorous strategies in relation to the objectives and scope of the projects, as well as to demonstrate governments the positive impact of their actions. Intermón Oxfam has been pursuing investment in resilience and adaptation to climate change because it is urgent to minimize the effect of the climate crisis on the lives of a large number of the worlds’ population.
This enriching and plural conversation spotlights the importance of the work developed in MICSEA where we are committed to a people-centred urban design that promotes resilience and adaptation to climate change effects. Nowadays, architects must be trained with a social vision to a variety of contexts, responding to complex challenges from a user-centred perspective. To this end, the processes of analysis and research are critical in designing strategies for a positive long-term impact. At MICSEA, sustainability, climate and social emergencies are issues to be addressed in an integrated manner contributing to a fairer built environment.