The future of hundreds of millions of people in urban areas across the world will be affected by the different impacts of climate change. However, mitigation and adaptation capacity is not equally distributed worldwide and in developing and least developed countries vulnerability is substantially different compared to developed countries. Climate change impacts can undermine a country’s efforts to achieve the goals of sustainable development and will worsen poverty in developing and least developed. At the same time certain aspects of urbanisation provide an opportunity to relieve the pressure on ecosystems.
Cities are centres of innovation and can provide opportunity to introduce clean energy systems, sustainable transportation and waste management to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. With access to updated climate science, cities can also work with scientists and experts to assess impacts and vulnerability, and with local stakeholders to design and implement effective adaptation strategies to respond to the unavoidable impacts of climate change. A number of projects in Northern country cities are advancing the understanding of the roles that cities can play to respond effi ciently and effectively to climate change.
In the developing world, the impacts of climate change are manifold, ranging from longer and more intensive drought periods, heavier rainfalls and an increased variability of precipitation, inland fl ooding and sea level rise, increasingly intensive tropical cyclones, water scarcity among others. In general, poor people will be more affected. In an era of rapid urbanization, mainly in developing countries, cities are increasingly at risk, as climate change impacts add to and reinforce existing environmental, economic and social problems.
The Cities and Climate Change Initiative (CCCI), a component of the Sustainable Urban Development Network (SUD-Net) was established in 2008 within the vision of UN Habitat’s Medium-Term Strategic and Institutional Plan (MTSIP); to promote, monitor and report on progress in the implementation of the Habitat Agenda, with the twin objectives of shelter for all and sustainable human settlements development - focusing on urban governance, decentralization and strengthening local authorities, environmental planning and management, and mitigation andadaptation to climate change impacts on human settlements.
The CCCI is expected to contribute to the attainment of Millennium Development Goal 7; to integrate principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes, and reverse the loss of environmental resources in developing countries through promoting resilience to climate change.