CEADIR Series: Climate Change Adaptation Planning for Low-Income Urban Populations

More than half the world’s population—3.5 billion people—already lives in cities.  This proportion is expected to increase to two-thirds by 2050, with growth mainly concentrated in Asia and Africa. The UN reports between 20-30 percent of city residents live in slums, largely disconnected from urban infrastructure and political decision-making processes. As climate change and natural disasters threaten livelihoods, housing and services, how can adaptation planning better include disadvantaged city dwellers?

On September 20, 2016, the CEADIR Series focused on climate change adaptation planning for low-income urban populations in developing countries, featuring:
  • Dr. Anthony Socci of the US Environmental Protection Agency, who discussed the Durban Adaptation Charter, its key accomplishments to date, and its importance for inclusive urban resilience planning.
  • Dr. Hari Bansha Dulal of Abt Associates, who discussed findings from his recent paper on how Asian cities are addressing climate change with adaptation planning and interventions. 
  • Laura Kavanaugh of ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability, who explored pioneering approaches to inclusive urban adaptation from cities in developing countries across Asia and Africa. 
  • Darren Manning of USAID’s Office of Energy and Infrastructure, who moderated the discussion.
Key takeaways from the event include:
  • A focus on cities and climate change is essential because developing countries have large, growing populations, often in the most vulnerable areas. Cities are the locus of the poorest people who require special consideration in climate change preparation, as they are generally left out of conventional adaptation measures. 
  • Most cities are at the initial stage of adaptation, laying the groundwork. However, more groundwork does not mean more resilience. Cities with more adaptive actions have less vulnerability. Most adaptation actions to date have been in the form of disaster preparedness, which is useful, but not truly adaptation. 
  • Cities around the world are active in sharing both experiences and ideas for addressing climate change. However, they are constrained by financing limitations and require help to access international climate funds. Cities must be more visible to international groups that can help these cities access funding to implement their adaptation plans and strategies.
  • There is a need for creative solutions within communities to promote ownership at the local level and involve informal settlements for AD development to be successful. The private sector must also be engaged, particularly in scaling compacts from individual to regional scales.
  • One key cross-cutting element: the importance of leadership and commitment in the adaptation process, from initiatives like Durban Adaptation Charter, as adaptation is not something you “achieve;” rather, it is ongoing.

Video URL

Adaptation, Urban
Strategic Objective
Adaptation, Climate Finance, Disaster Risk Management, Private Sector Engagement, Urban
Africa, Asia

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