In his address on this year’s World Cities Day, UN-Secretary General António Guterres recognised that “cities have borne the brunt of the pandemic” and called upon governments to “prepare cities for future disease outbreaks”. Authorities cannot waste this opportunity to build back better by simultaneously addressing the increasing economic hardship for the urban poor and climate change impacts. This will help prevent not only future health risks but also the increased risk of urban violence and insecurity.
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 readers to imagine what cities could look like if they took into account ancient wisdom on spatial planning.
Global progress towards achieving the SDGs is slow, and for many targets, off track. While SDG implementation is primarily a national task and responsibility, it also requires concerted international cooperation. This article presents two arguments why foreign policy could play an important role in their achievement.
No country is immune to natural hazards, but for fragile states, the effects are even more severe. Mostly, conflict prevention and humanitarian aid are seen as more pressing priorities to protect livelihoods there. This pushes efforts of climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction to the bottom of the priority list and results in compounded pressures.
In an increasingly urbanised world, global resilience cannot be achieved without cities. Separating a local from a national or international sustainability issue is increasingly difficult – be it climate change, migration, or economic development.
Climate diplomacy needs to release itself from the shackles of ‘systemic’ politics in order to achieve a climate agenda that is driven by human security interests, including equity and justice, and strengthen climate change initiatives at local, national and regional levels, in order to bridge the gap caused by the slow pace of progress at the international level.
Limited access to energy is a significant barrier to development and holds back efforts to improve living conditions in developing and emerging economies. Around the world, 1.1 billion people still do not have access to electricity, and 2.8 billion still rely on animal and crop waste, wood, charcoal and other solid fuels to cook their food and heat their homes.
The unabated growth of natural resource consumption raises risks that we will outstrip the capacities of ecosystems and governance institutions. At the same time, to achieve important global goals related to poverty alleviation, public health, equity and economic development such as those embodied in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we will simultaneously need more resources and better management of natural resources everywhere.
What outcomes do the agreements achieved at COP24 hold for cities and regions? Despite the decisive part the so-called non-state actors play in achieving the international climate goals, their role hasn't been formally recognized by the UNFCCC.
Responding to climate change has become more urgent than ever. Cooperation within communities is a precondition for urban resilience, as recurring heatwaves and hurricanes cannot be put down to chance any more. Lou del Bello argues that part of the response to disaster risks lies in digital communications, which will help build preparedness from the bottom up.