Session 7


Infrastructure-Led Community Resilience

held on

Wednesday 5th August 2020 at 15:00 CAT, 14:00 BST, 13:00 UTC


The programme of events associated with a Call to Action on Sustainable Urbanisation in the Commonwealth was launched on Wednesday 24 June 2020 under the leadership of the Association of Commonwealth Universities, the Commonwealth Association of Architects, the Commonwealth Association of Planners, and the Commonwealth Local Government Forum, with support from The Prince’s Foundation and the Rwandan Ministry of Infrastructure.

This event was co-hosted by the Commonwealth Engineers Council and UNSECO. The session focused on systems level approaches to building resilient and healthy communities through social and physical infrastructure. 

The event was chaired by Prof Paul Jowitt, President of the Commonwealth Engineers Council and Dr Peggy Oti-Boateng, Director of Science Policy and Capacity Building at UNESCO. The panellists included:

  • Dr Priti Parikh, University College London, UK 
  • Professor Murali Chandrashekaran, Vice Provost International, UBC, Canada 
  • Dr Josh Macabuag, Disaster Risk Engineer, Independent Consultant, UK 
  • Thandeka Mlaza-Lloyd, Development Planning Unit, Johannesburg 
  • Dr Juliet Mian, Deputy Executive Director, The Resilience Shift

session overview

The session followed on systems level approaches to building resilient and healthy communities through social and physical infrastructure. The key themes were:

  • Interdisciplinary collaborations are required for cities to better respond to future events
  • Opportunities for green recovery and growth
  • Capacity building and skills development in engineering and related disciplines
  • Potential enablers:  energy; ICT; water/sanitation, social networks, paraprofessionals etc.
  • Potential threats:  pandemics such as Covid-19; climate change, natural disasters, ineffective institutions and poor governance etc.

The event attracted over 187 attendees from 29 countries. The live recording of this session is available to watch by clicking on the image at the top of this webpage.

key messages

  • The need for systems level thinking – in terms of the resilience response to events and the need to build in resilience for sustainable cities.
  • Impacts on the SDGs from such as COVID-19 and extreme events and need to rebuild better for all citizens 
  • Building capacity and the role of effective Built Environment Professional Institutions
  • The importance of developing multi-level, inter-disciplinary, cross-sectoral collaboration to achieve sustainable urbanisation 
  • Role of Local Governance and City Leaders
  • The importance of engaging young people in decision making in a meaningful way 
  • Role of the Commonwealth as a convening force and international collaboration
  • Now is the time for an infrastructure led response to the UN SDGs – a Call to Action.


A copy of the compilation of PPT presentations can be found here.

further information and resources

A number of links were referred to in the session by our panellists and can be found below:
Building Resilience through Infrastructure in Rural India
Learning from Day Zero
Resilient Leadership
ICSI Coalition for Change [interim website]
City Water Resilience Approach
EFID Centre and projects
Human Centric Tools used in South Africa 
Interdisciplinary Health-Env Interventions
Sanitation and SDGs  
COVID-19 and SDGS 

If you are interested in the issues raised in the programme and/or would like to become involved in a Call to Action, then please contact us at