Climate change and urbanisation: The combined two processes represent some of the most fundamental challenges nations and indeed the world must face over the coming decades. For the first time in human history, more than 50% of the world now lives in urban areas. This huge population rely on institutional, physical and ecological systems for energy, transport and communication that extend far beyond local areas. These systems, which provide essential food, water, shelter and other needs on which lives depend, are exposed in one way or another to the direct and indirect effects of climate change. Whether the effect relates to direct impacts such as extreme temperatures, storms or floods in cities, or indirect ones, such as changes in global grain markets that lead to spikes in food prices that negatively affect the urban poor – the future challenges for urban administrations will be huge.
This is very true of India which is urbanising very rapidly. In view of this, a two-day international workshop on sustainable and climate resilient urban development, bringing together a unique combination of stakeholder was held to generate a wide array of conceptually grounded and highly practical insights and guidance on how India can begin to address urban challenges in the context of climate change.
The workshop identified temperature, intense rainfall and the fact that India’s increasing dependence on global markets to meet its food needs and the implications on global climate conditions for food production in distant regions as major factors that will also have greater and greater implications for the needs of urban populations.
While stressing that getting the process of urbanisation right is critical, the paper provides tangible guidance on courses of action for responding to three major challenges; climate change, urbanisation and poverty through their linkages. It states that many “ten per cent” solutions from major changes in policy and infrastructure design to local community action are required in order to transform development pathways toward resilience. Perhaps the biggest challenge is to start the initial steps of building knowledge, capacity and gain experience.