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Reducing risks to cities from disasters and climate change

Publication date:
Author:
S. Huq
Type of publication:
Objective:
Collection:

The lives and livelihoods of millions of people will be affected by how climate change is handled in cities in the next few years. While some city governments and civil society groups are acting to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, they are ignoring the need to act to reduce vulnerability to climate change. This editorial reviews papers written on studies from various parts of the world pertaining to reducing risks to cities from disasters and climate change.The paper reviews the following issues as presented by the papers:

the risks from climate change
how climate change increases flooding in various ways
the urban population at risk in coastal zones.

The editorial identifies the people most at risk from climate change as those who are are:

least able to avoid the direct or indirect impacts
likely to be most affected by them like infants and the elderly
least able to cope with the illness, injury, premature death or loss of income, livelihood or property caused by the impacts.

The paper makes the following observations while calling for action.

The need for adaptation to climate change has been increased by the failure of rich countries to act to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
A key determinant of future greenhouse gas emissions is how cities develop in low- and middle-income nations.
Action requires local government to have the knowledge, capacity and legitimacy to act effectively at the local level.
Local adaptation measures should support better quality, more secure housing provided with sewers, drains and other measures to protect them from storms and floods.
Local adaptation needs a strong local information base and local governance systems that allow voice and influence to poorer groups.
Adaptation must bring benefits to the billion urban dwellers who live in very poor quality housing, in tenements, cheap boarding houses and illegal or informal settlements.
City governments in Africa, Asia and Latin America have to find ways to support low-income households to enable them adapt to climate change.
Since most of the growth in the world’s population will be in urban centers, this is an opportunity to plan and manage their expansion to enhance their resilience to support lower greenhouse gas emissions.