Cities Running Huge Risks by Ignoring Climate Change II: UN Habitat Report PDFs

I've been amazed at how little attention UN Habitat's Report on Cities and Climate Change has garnered since its release at the end of March.

The report (which I contributed to) makes some important points, summarized in an earlier entry, both about the risks that cities face, and the areas where municipal policies can have significant impacts. The report also targets Canadian cities for missing the boat in key areas, especially land-use planning.

I decided to repost on the report and include a link to the PDF of the abridged version, as well as the full case study that I wrote on Durban, South Africa. I think the Durban example is particularly relevant, for cities North and South, because it highlights the negative impact that institutional inertia can have effective climate policies. It shows what can happen when cities, or departments inside of cities, really encourage innovation and creativity. 

Go Big or Go...
I was at an excellent presentation last night by Whistler (BC) Mayor Ken Malamed.  At one point - given that he's a big mountain skiing kind of guy - he used the metaphor of taking sustainability out of the terrain park (or the practice hill) and "going big" on the dramatic peaks of the back country.  I think that's the challenge that a lot of cities who have begun engaging with climate and sustainability now face:  the need to take the jump from small scale projects to large scale systems level change.

"Go big or go home."  That's the cliché.  But in this case if we don't go big, home may be a much less comfortable place to go back to. 

Here, again, a few highlights from the report:

  • As many as 200 million people will be displaced by climate change by 2050.
  • In coastal North African cities, a 1-2 degree increase in   temperature could lead to sea level rise exposing 6-25 million residents to flooding.
“Few Canadian cities appear to be prioritizing climate change-related action in land-use planning. While most cities do not acknowledge the emission reduction benefits of growth management and increased density, Calgary, Vancouver and Toronto are making explicit connections between land use and emissions. Yet, even in these three cities – which are leading climate change action in Canada – few specific initiatives address these connections.”


2 Responses to "Cities Running Huge Risks by Ignoring Climate Change II: UN Habitat Report PDFs"

Ben.Harack said... 17 April 2011 at 16:32

Typo in title: "ingoring"

Alex Aylett said... 17 April 2011 at 21:04

thanks Ben!


This is a blog for news and views on the future of sustainable cites. A major revamp is in the works. Until then I am keeping this version up as an archive of my past writing.

You can expect occasional updates, but not with the same frequency as in the past.

You can also find my writing on urban redesign and sustainability in ReNew Canada, The Mark, Sustainable Cities Canada, WorldChanging, and other more specialized academic publications.

Info on my consulting work, c.v. and current research focus is all here.

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