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Module 1 Summaries

Module 1 Summaries

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Module 1 - Summaries
Module 1 - Summaries

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Learning Alliance on Climate Resilient Cities
 
WEEK 1: CLIMATE RESILIENCE IN YOUR CITIES 
 The vast majority of posts came from Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia the global south. We could see that climatic events are affecting cities across our regions invery similar ways; the effects of climate variability in terms of aggravating existing problemswere common across regions; and the major challenges to be overcome when tackling climatechallenges were indeed similar. Although we only touched upon the idea of planning toovercome climatic challenges at the city level, we can already see that there are variedapproaches, and we look forward to hearing more about these throughout the course of theLearning Alliance.A very important point to pick up on, which recurred many times throughout the posts was thatwe cannot attribute all existing problems experienced as a result of natural events to climatechange. Some participants were concerned with the use of the term ‘climate change’. I wouldnot want this distinction to impede our discussions and would like to suggest that we considerstrategies to improve resilience in cities on account of climate variability, which will worsen withtime. Many participants directly pointed to the idea that the denial of climate change is a majorbarrier to development in cities. Thinking that climate change is something that will happen infuture, and thus waiting to act rather than taking proactive measures to reduce risks and existingclimate aggravated problems now. Many participants theorised that a holistic approach toclimate change would be the most effective means of achieving change – integrating climateconsiderations into all plans, policies and development actions at the city level.One of the main barriers to change that was noted across all regions was the relative inaction of city governments. Many participants explained research projects and promising strategies and
 
plans that have alas not yet come to fruition. It seems that in many cities it is not the lack of planning on how to address climate challenges that is leaving cities vulnerable, but it is theputting of these plans into action that proves to be difficult. Some point out that the reason forthis is the lack of conviction in long-term investments, due to the nature of national and localpolitics. In many countries climate change is not a priority due to the myriad of existingdevelopment needs. We will be looking at city level plans and policies in the first week of Module 1. The level of awareness and understanding about climate risks and climate change realities wasmentioned time and time again – for all levels of society. Many participants noted thatawareness among communities is a key priority, and that city dwellers should be educatedabout climate threats and included in planning decisions. We did see that some programmes,mainly led by civil society groups, are working on exactly this issue across our regions.
 
 
Learning Alliance on Climate Resilient Cities
 
Another recurring commentary was about the importance of using multi-stakeholder groups
 
when planning for and addressing climate challenges. Many participants suggested that playersfrom the government, civil society, the private sector, academia and the community, shouldwork together to identify risks, formulate plans and put them into action. Few successfulpractical examples were given, but this week’s discussion was not focused on that. In module 2we will look at the involvement institutions and the community.In terms of which climatic changes have been seen in cities across our regions, the main causeof problems seem to be heavy rainfall and resultant flooding. Heavy rainfall coupled with a
 
variety of aggravators has been wreaking havoc in cities around the world:- Many cities across our nations are located on the coastline or on riverbanks- Poor drainage systems worsen flood damage- Poor quality infrastructure is easily damaged by heaving rain causing a variety of knockon problems- Lack of building codes for housing- High level of rural-urban migration- Unplanned cities see urban dwellers settling in high risk areas: on riverbanks, hillsides,and other unstable groundsIndeed many participants attributed the lack of land-use planning as one of the main challenges
 
that cities need to overcome in order to become more resilient to climate change. We will belooking at land-use planning during the course of Module 1.Many participants also spoke about the impact of rising temperatures, decreased rainfall andintense droughts. Some spoke about droughts in rural areas that have the knock-on effect of causing food security issues in cities. Droughts in cities also raise concerns over access todrinking water. We heard about some civil society action to drill boreholes, but there was anincreasing concern over the lowering of water tables. The three problems that were most often cited by participants as being aggravated by bothslow-onset and extreme weather events were poor water access, poor waste management andpoor sanitation, leading to a host of health issues (water-borne and vector-borne). Many actionswere seen across all regions that are attempting to address these issues. In Module 3, when welook at ways to improve resilience in the built environment we will delve more deeply into theseissues, and uncover solutions from across our regions.
 Additional (post summary) comments:
- Water supply is an increasing concern with the changing climate, and city resiliencestrategies will necessarily need to address this issue- A lack of local capacity, the outsourcing of important analysis and planning, and theinability to put plans into action are major setbacks to improving urban climate resilience
 
 
Learning Alliance on Climate Resilient Cities
 
WEEK 2: CITY LEVEL CLIMATE CHANGE PLANS AND POLICIES
  Thank you to those of you that participated in the discussion last week on city level plans andpolicies. Participation in these discussions is very valuable, even if the cities that you live andwork in do not show clear signs of implementing the climate resilience strategies underdiscussion. As a community is it interesting for us to understand the realities across all of ourcountries, please do not shy away from taking part in the discussion – even if your contributionis merely to state that your cities have not implemented such practices. It is our hope that wecan match up our strengths and weaknesses and help each other see different approaches toaddressing similar needs. Another comment, before moving on to the summary of this week’sdiscussion is that in this Learning Alliance we are focusing specifically upon climate resilience atthe city level – and not at the national level. There are of course very important links betweenthe two, and we will certainly mention national strategies from time to time, when they directlyaffect city responses, however, our focus is upon cities because arguably it is location specificstrategies and actions that will improve climate resilience in urban areas. In the followingdiscussions we would like to encourage you to share practical local experiences.Last week’s discussion about city level policies and plans showed that very few cities acrossAfrica and Asia have developed city level strategies to improve climate resilience. We heardabout national climate change plans, policies and strategies in existence or in development inBangladesh, Bolivia, Ghana, India, Nepal, Nigeria, Rwanda South Africa, Trinidad & Tobago, Turkey, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Plus, we know from the Week 1 discussion that many othercountries throughout Africa, Asia and Latin America have national climate change strategies,plans and policies.Several reasons were given as to why city level plans do not exist:- Many participants attributed the cause to the fact that other development issues arefurther up the agenda.- A participant from Zimbabwe stated that city level climate change plans would morelikely be developed after the national plan is complete.- Participants from Bangladesh and Ghana explained that a the lack of city level climatechange strategies may have to do with the fact that there are no city governments assuch.- Participants from India and Zambia explained that climate change is seen as more of anagricultural or rural concern that an urban one.Aside from the two cities featured in our discussion material – Mexico City and Quito – someother cities with specific climate change plans were introduced to us, along with other cities withuncoordinated programmes to improve climate resilience. From what participants shared lastweek we can see that:

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