A workshop on Climate Change and Urban Planning was held in Rotterdam between 28 and 30 May. The workshop was organized by The Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies (IHS) at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam and the Commonwealth Association of Planners in collaboration with UN-Habitat through its Sustainable Urban Development Network (SUD-Net).
The meeting brought together urban planning practitioners and their associations as well as representatives of tertiary planning schools.
During the first day the contribution of urban planning to climate change mitigation and adaptation was explored, giving the participants the opportunity to share their rich experiences from around the world. The second and third day were dedicated to plotting the way forward.
A strong partnership with the planning professionals emerged. The outcome of the discussion was a framework for a tool which would support the climate change related continuous professional development of planners. The tool would be more of a “tool-kit” rather than “guidelines” to allow decision-makers to think differently, apply certain values and develop localised and unique responses to climate change challenges. Furthermore, the planning associations would partner with UN-HABITAT in the roll-out of the tool.
Secondly, it was agreed to support planning teaching on Climate Change through the setup of a virtual Cities in Climate Change Academy. This web-platform would collect lectures (including power point presentations, supplementary lecture notes, reading lists, case studies, suggestions to studio/seminar work etc.) on Climate Change and Urban Planning. The modules could be combined to develop a complete semester course. The objective would be to mainstream climate change into existing syllabi. A road map (from the end of 2009 to 2011) towards the “Academy” was also prepared at the workshop. It was agreed that UN-HABITAT will prepare a work plan on how to implement these recommendations from the working groups.
2. Unseasonal tropical depression hits Sorsogon
In early May, Tropical Depression “Dante” caused severe damage in Sorsogon City and its environs, including loss of live. 2000 houses were damaged, two bridges (one critically connecting Sorsogon with the rest of Luzon Island) destroyed and in some parts of Sorsogon rice crops were also destroyed. This Tropical Depression was unseasonal and given it was classified as category 1 storm (due to its low wind speed), the heavy rainfalls and the related destruction hit the city by surprise.
3. City Consultation held in Sorsogon
A two-day city consultation brought together officials from all key city departments, including police and emergency services, some key national agencies as well as numerous NGOs, faith-based organizations, CBOs and the private sector. In total almost 100 participants were registered. The consultation deliberated four proposition papers which had been prepared by the city’s technical working group in response to the Vulnerability and Adaptation assessment conducted under CCCI.
The consultations identified the following key priority areas: First: strengthening environmental management and promoting Climate Change Mitigation through: solid waste management, better urban transport planning and the rehabilitation of upstream forests (which would also protect against downstream flooding) and coastal zone management (in particular Mangrove forest rehabilitation). Second: Improving housing and basic urban infrastructure to increase resilience to Climate Change Impacts, including low cost housing, better building standards, improved water drainage and improved seawalls and bridges. Third: enhancing disaster risk reduction by shifting from a reactive to a proactive approach, including the establishment of a disaster preparedness and response team within the local government and the revision of the comprehensive land use plan. Last but not least, the consultation agreed to develop a livelihood strategy to increase resilience climate change impacts in the following sectors: fishing, farming and tourism. It was further recommended to relocate the city market (prone to flooding) and the planting of trees (coconut) as wind breakers and for livelihood support.
4. UN agencies meet in Bonn to discuss joint Capacity Building for Climate Change
UN agencies collaborate on Climate Change Capacity Building. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had announced this effort at the Climate Meeting in Poznan in December 2008. Since then some progress has been made in developing the One UN Training Service Platform for Climate Change (TSP4CC). UN-HABITAT participated in a coordinating meeting organized in parallel to the UNFCCC Bonn Climate Change Talks* . UN HABITAT currently develops a number of capacity building publications which will be featured on the web based platform. The training material under development includes: A tool for local government policy makers to respond to Climate Change, guidelines for local governments on how to access carbon funding, a tool in support of the development of local climate change plans, a tool for urban planners and a number of technical tools on energy efficient building materials for low cost housing.
*The thirtieth sessions of the UNFCCC Convention subsidiary bodies - SBSTA and SBI, the sixth session of the AWG-LCA and the eighth session of the AWG-KP took place from Monday 1 June till Friday 12 June 2009 in Bonn, Germany