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Asia-Pacific’s growing cities hold the keys to a greener future
10 May, Jakarta -- Asia-Pacific’s cities are central to the world’s battle against climate change. With the dual challenges of supporting the urban poor to adapt and reduce emissions, cities hold the keys to a greener future. Cities are change-makers. They can “encourage climate-friendly energy use, more efficient transport options, greener buildings and better waste management. Supported by access to technology, finance and knowledge, integrated solutions can help cities move towards a lower-carbon, climate resilient future,” says the UNDPsponsored Asia-Pacific Human Development Report, One Planet to Share: Sustaining Human Progress in a Changing Climate. “The Asia-Pacific region has every reason to be proud of its cities as centres of economic, political and social leadership,” the report adds. The future of Asia-Pacific and the world is becoming increasingly urban as people move to cities seeking a better life. “Asia and the Pacific are home to some of the world’s largest urban areas. Indeed, of the world’s top 20 megacities — those with populations of 10 million or more — half are located in Asia,” said the report. “The fastest growing of the region’s megacities is Dhaka: between 2005 and 2010 its population increased by more than 16 per cent. In terms of total population, however, the largest city by 2020 is likely to be Tokyo (37 million), followed by New Delhi (26 million), and then Mumbai (24 million), with Shanghai (19 million) and Karachi (17 million) not far behind.” The report says, “Around 40 per cent of Asia-Pacific’s population resides in urban settlements. Asian cities also tend to be densely populated, with 6,500 people per square kilometre, compared to 4,500 in Latin America and 4,000 in Europe.” Cities with higher concentrations of people are likely to be worst affected by climate change as was evident during the devastating floods in Mumbai (2005), Jakarta (2007), Brisbane (2010–11) and Bangkok (2011). “By 2026, Asia’s population is likely to reach a tipping point: by then, over half its population will be urban, and by 2050 the proportion could reach two-thirds,” says the report. Actions in cities will be “make or break” for climate change. These are some of the findings of the 2012 Asia-Pacific Human Development Report, sponsored by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and launched today. “Making cities better able to survive climate related disasters is the key to a more resilient development in Asia-Pacific,” said Ajay Chhibber, UN Assistant Secretary-General and Director of UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, at today’s launch of the report. “Solutions for addressing the effects of climate change in our cities will need to be tailored first and foremost to the needs of the urban poor.”

often located in informal settlements or ‘slums. municipal administrators are strengthening dykes for better flood control. “Cities globally occupy only 2 per cent of land.org In Bangkok: Cherie Hart.’ These and other marginal areas in cities are highly exposed to climate hazards. yet contribute more than two-thirds of greenhouse gases. rohini. surekha.” “The Asia-Pacific region has made progress in reducing slum numbers.hart@undp. the main contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. Mobile: +91 98 10153924. 2133. primarily through transportation and the use of electricity. Services however are constantly under strain as a result of population increase. but it is still home to more than 505 million slum-dwellers or over half the world’s slum population.org .” As incomes rise and bring ownership of private vehicles within the reach of more people. heat waves and rising sea-levels. please contact: In New Delhi: Surekha Subarwal. cities can learn to navigate lower carbon-efficient pathways and adapt to a warmer world. cherie. Some cities highlighted in the report are already taking action: in Hanoi.” “Asian cities have managed to increase the supplies of safe drinking water — currently available to more than 90 per cent of the urban population— even though there is some way to go in terms of quantity and regularity. Rohini Kohli. cities are themselves adding to global warming as major emitters of greenhouse gases.Cities are highly vulnerable to climate change as a whole. the report says. 31 per cent in South-East Asia and 24 per cent in the Pacific. are more sensitive to climate change. Cities are responsible “for approximately 67 per cent of the global energy demand. and New Delhi’s municipal environment department has been engaging urban youth on climate change by establishing educational ‘eco-clubs’.org.” adds the report. the middle and upper classes are generating increasing volumes of solid waste. at the launch. Telephone +91 11 2462 8877 Ext.undp. In Asia-Pacific cities. Beyond suffering from the effects of climate change.000 slums against disasters.subarwal@undp. To access the 2012 Asia-Pacific Human Development Report and the press kit from 10 May 2012 onwards please visit: http://asiapacific-hdr. Tokyo has Asia-Pacific’s first city-level cap-and-trade scheme which aims at lowering the majority of urban emissions. 25 per cent in West Asia.aprc. a climatelinked insurance scheme in Bangladeshi cities is covering residents living in over 2. in flood-prone areas alongside rivers or even directly on watercourses. By 2030 that proportion should rise to more than 73 per cent. 28 per cent in East Asia. The recently released report from UNDP states “Proportions of people residing in informal settlements or slums are on average 35 per cent in South Asia. oil and natural gas. Climate change does not affect all urban residents equally with the urban poor have the least capacity to adapt to climate change. droughts. Urban services such as water and food supplies. 346.” the report emphasises. often concentrated in makeshift shelters.org/climate-change For further information. Telephone: +66 (0) 2304 9100 Ext.” said Anuradha Rajivan. leader of the multinational team that prepared the report. 2132. The report states. and are home to significant numbers of the poor.” Yet despite their vulnerability to the effects of increasing temperatures. the problem is likely to get worse. sanitation and electricity will come under increasing strain from floods. with rising affluence.kohli@undp. The report goes on to say “Waste contributes around 3 per cent of global emissions. mainly from coal. rising demand and climate stress. Telephone: +66 (0) 2304 9100 Ext. “Poor communities. Mobile: +66 (0) 81 918 1564.

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