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Cities Are Opportunities To Get Transformative Climate Adaptation Right


A new report on challenges that global cities will face by 2050, when 66 percent of the world’s population will live in urban areas, emphasises that urban areas will face the most serious risks related to climate change: sea-level rise, floods, heat and water stress, and loss of biodiversity among other impacts.

“Unlocking the Potential for Transformative Climate Adaptation in Cities”, a new research report from World Resource Institute (WRI) focuses on cities in the global south with large vulnerable populations who are most at risk, recommending that municipal authorities seek climate adaptation solutions that are transformative and produce more equitable, and more sustainable growth. The research was released at the C40 World Mayors Summit in Copenhagen Denmark, 14 October.

“Successful urban adaptation is about more than just withstanding storms, floods and heat; we must plan, deliver, and finance infrastructure and core services in cities differently, relying significantly on nature-based solutions and more closely engaging vulnerable communities,” comments co-author Anjali Mahendra.

This report on urban climate adaptation is part of a series of papers commissioned by the Global Commission on Adaptation (GCA). GCA data suggests that changes in five key areas, including city adaptation, could generate as much as $7.1 Trillion USD in net benefits in the next decade.

The paper highlights three key action areas for municipal authority focus that would advance transformative urban adaptation:

  • Include climate risks in planning and delivery of urban infrastructure and services; strengthen local capacity to act on that information..
  • Upgrade living conditions in vulnerable communities and informal settlements; draw upon local experience and community knowledge.
  • Prioritize nature-based solutions to holistically manage water and heat risks.
  • The report contends that coordinated governance and integrated planning by accountable institutions are keys to success. But inclusion is also part of the solution: partnerships across communities, private sector, and civil society are necessary to achieve progress on adaptation priorities.

“Cities are a fantastic opportunity to get adaptation right,” said Ani Dasgupta, Global Director of WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities. “But cities must adapt in ways that correct underlying inequalities. Done carefully, transformative adaptation can put cities on a stronger, safer path that offers opportunity and a higher quality of life for all.”