Cities and Climate Change (Urban Development)

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As the majority of future humans will live in cities, it just makes sense that our solution to climate change will reside there too.

C40 Cities: Why Cities are the Solution to Global Climate Change

Some illustrated elements sourced from Issara Willenskomer. Why Cities? Ending Climate Change Begins in the City Start scrolling your browser to learn why cities are the key to addressing the global climate change problem. C40Cities ycities. Cities have the power to change the world. But cities are as vulnerable as they are powerful. Climate change causes financial damage too. Urban growth shows no sign of slowing.

Cities Changing Their Environment

The framework is structured around three criteria: 1 policy and economic credibility, 2 scientific and technical credibility, and 3 legitimacy. Across these categories, the framework uses 17 indicators and 53 metrics to assess the credibility of a local adaptation policy. Olazabal and her colleagues pilot this framework in Copenhagen, Durban, Quito and Vancouver, identifying specific opportunities for each city to strengthen their adaptation planning in the next policy cycle. In all four case studies, they identify clear concerns about funding adaptation actions.

They further add that there needs to be a rational allocation of scarce resources among development and adaptation projects, recognising possible synergies between these agendas. From funding to financing: perspectives shaping a research agenda for investment in urban climate adaptation. Keenan et al. Many adaptation investments also carry high levels of risk and uncertainty. Even without these deterrents, Keenan and colleagues note that public budgets especially at the local level are often insufficient to cover the projected costs of adaptation.

Local governments therefore often depend on private, philanthropic and multilateral agents as sources of adaptation funding and financing. However, they underscore that this funding and financing strategy also creates a need to critically examine who pays, who benefits and who participates in adaptation planning. For instance, the authors propose that decisions to use adaptation funding — direct expenditure in preparation for or response to climate change impacts — versus adaptation financing — the deployment of market-based instruments to attract third-party funding to an adaptation action — may be informed by particular economic or moral views around the relative importance of equity versus efficiency, or of sovereignty versus value creation.

Yet at the same time, public and private decisions about adaptation investment cannot be easily disentangled: private investments are often contingent on enabling policy frameworks or targeted public interventions, while government agencies frequently draw on private finance or deploy public-private partnerships.

Moreover, few local governments have the power to meaningfully negotiate funding and financing solutions with global actors. Rather than focusing narrowly on mechanisms to fill the resource gap, they urge for critical appraisals on the incentives and governance implications of different funding and financing options. They argue that making the trade-offs more explicit can enable more informed decision-making, and ultimately ensure that adaptation investments align with local visions for long-term urban development.

In search of missing links: urbanisation and climate change in Kano Metropolis, Nigeria. This case study complements the work by Keenan et al. Indeed, Kano exemplifies many of the challenges facing cities across the global south: fragmented governance, with eight local authorities; a rapidly growing population at 3. Mohammed et al.

Building urban resilience to climate change in the secondary cities in Indonesia

These hazards can be attributed both to global warming and the expansion of the built environment, which creates urban heat island effects and increases rainwater run-off. Without sufficient and affordable formal housing available, informal urbanisation is the norm with all its attendant health costs Ezeh et al.


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The history, geography, and sociology of slums and the health problems of people who live in slums. This makes it difficult for local authorities to shape urban form in a way that realises the potential productivity gains typically associated with urbanisation. Neither climate change mitigation or adaptation are meaningfully taken into account in formal planning processes. The example of Kano underscores the conclusions of Keenan et al. The sixth paper in this special issue also dives into the experiences of African cities.

Local governments in these cities face many similar climate challenges to Kano, particularly prolonged floods that lead to loss of life, the destruction of shelters and disruption of economic and social activity.

City Climate Planner program

Low-income and other marginalised urban residents are the most vulnerable to these impacts due to lack of risk-reducing infrastructure and limited access to resources. She highlights how families will frequently adapt their own houses and neighbourhoods to climate change by strengthening walls, securing roofs, elevating floors, digging drainage ditches and so on. These efforts aim to fill the gaps left by formal planning institutions. While many people relocate temporarily during floods, most are reluctant to move away to parts of the city where they may struggle to access jobs or services.

The absence of effective urban planning and investment means that residents in Luanda and Maputo must too often choose between economic development and climate adaptation. Although Udelsmann Rodrigues nods to the large body of literature on upgrading informal settlements through collective action for example, Douglas et al. Unjust waters: climate change, flooding and the urban poor in Africa.

Environ Urbanisation. Disaster risk and its reduction: an agenda for urban Africa. Int Dev Plann Rev. The urban informal economy, local inclusion and achieving a global green transformation. Habitat Int. DIY urbanism in these contexts seems to be a fragmented and individual effort.

As outlined in the introduction to this editorial, it is clear that new approaches to urban planning and urban finance are needed to bridge the formal and informal sectors, aggregating and aligning these climate actions to respond to the immense, interrelated challenges facing cities.

The final paper in this issue offers a very different case, focusing on planning and financing climate change mitigation in a high-income city. Broader impacts of the fare-free public transportation system in Tallinn. This issue — Free public transit: scope and definitions. In: Dellheim J , Prince J , editors. Montreal : Black Rose Books ; p. This advances equity goals within the city. Decisions about urban planning and finance have always played a major role in determining the quality of life in cities.

But the climate emergency clearly adds new urgency to ancient debates, as the varied experiences of Cape Town, Copenhagen, Durban, Kano, Luanda, Maputo, Quito, Tallinn and Vancouver illustrate in the following pages. The seven papers in this special issue illustrate how individual city governments might respond to a changing climate, and the importance of meaningful partnerships with national and provincial governments, research institutes, civil society, businesses and other financiers. They speak to the critical interrelationship between spatial planning and urban infrastructure investment to secure climate safety, and highlight the possible tensions between environmental and fiscal resilience for municipalities worldwide.

Planning and financial innovations will have a role to play in delivering climate-compatible cities. Government by experiment? Global cities and the governing of climate change. Trans Inst Br Geogr.

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Successful innovations can then be scaled and replicated to other cities. But innovation is not the whole answer. Delivering low-carbon, climate-resilient urban development also depends on, as White and Wahba put it, a more prosaic agenda of strengthening local capacities to design and implement inclusive spatial plans and bankable infrastructure projects. The climate crisis adds significant complexity to this agenda as Simpson et al. Yet this agenda has long been stymied by political economy considerations, which now limit effective climate mitigation and adaptation in cities.

This special issue begins to address the dearth of literature on urban planning and financing in the context of climate change. There is much more to learn and even more to do. Moreover, this effort cannot be the province of planners, investors and local governments alone.