With cities continuously more threatened by climate change induced disasters, urban planning's reflex response is to protect cities against nature. But what if the solution lies in working with nature instead against it? Architect Kongjiang Yu invites our readers to imagine what cities could look like if they took into account ancient wisdom on spatial planning.
Climate Change & Resilience
Around the world, coastal cities are threatened by storms, rising sea levels, and other climate change related hazards. With conventional approaches often both costly and ineffective, nature-based solutions are offering valuable alternatives. One example are the community-based methods developed by the NGO Mangrove Action Project.
Narrated from a community leader's viewpoint, we take a look at the neighbourhood of San Pablo, Ecuador, where the project "Guardians of the Hill" conserves urban ecosystems while at the same time empowering female community members.
Working with nature within and around cities can protect vulnerable urban residents from climate change impacts and disasters, improve their quality of life, and reduce the impacts of cities on other valuable systems, argues Dr Hannah Reid.
In Namibia, the major share of urban growth is informal, with an estimated 30-40 per cent of the population living in informal settlements, with trends projecting shacks to become the predominant form of housing by 2025. Being especially vulnerable to climate change, these forms of settlements require special attention in the development of climate resilience strategies.
At COP25, the Desk Officer for Sustainable Urban Development at MISEREOR, Clara-Luisa Weichelt, talked to Emanuela Barbiroglio about the challenges of addressing climate change in informal settlements and human-rights based solutions.
High density and poor building materials make informal settlements extremely prone to fire hazards. The Nairobi-based enterprise Kwangu Kwako has developed a housing model that, while being truly affordable, increases fire resilience and thus positively affects many aspects of residents' lives.
Delegates at COP25 in Madrid reached an agreement, without the robust language and ambitions that were wished to be seen in the approved texts. This leaves subnational and urban leaders responsible for implementing the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), making local climate activities the messengers of hope.
The climate summit in Madrid represents a unique opportunity for urban communities to take inspiration from each other, to build cities that are better prepared to tackle climate change, and to obtain investments. National delegates will need to increasingly confide in local authorities and provide them with more resources if they want to develop prompt and effective responses to the climate crisis.
A commitment to applying a ‘gender perspective’ to climate-smart planning in Coyuca, Mexico, brought to light some uncomfortable truths about bias against women. As a result, local government, researchers, and community members are more aware of how women’s and girls’ wellbeing must be addressed through climate resilience programmes.
A large share of the world's population lives in urban areas, making cities a major cause of climate change. Food is especially relevant in this regard, calling for strategies that make food systems contribute to urban resilience. How this may look like can be seen when looking at the City Regions Food System presented by Michela Carucci, Roman Malec, and Guido Santini.
Strengthening urban rural connections is essential for building resilient infrastructure, claims Rajib Shaw. However, as examples from Japan show, implementation is often hindered by administrative issues, calling for innovations in governance and communications to make urban rural partnerships a reality.
When disasters hit, cultural heritage is often perceived as something passive, something hit by destruction. Conservation architect and risk management expert Rohit Jigyasu argues for a different perception: one that acknowledges the decisive role urban cultural heritage can play both in the prevention and in the outcome of natural disaster, making it an active component of urban resilience.
The concept of smart cities brings with it both risks and opportunities for informal settlements. Through technical innovation, they do have the potential of making slums more resilient, argues Laurinda Godjo – if they are not only smart cities but also inclusive cities.
Quito, Ecuador is facing a variety of natural hazards, making it imperative to develop proper resilience strategies. David Jácome Polit, the city's Chief Resilience Officer, explains why any such strategy has to be based on a neighbourhood's social structure.