UN-Habitat Addresses Climate Vulnerabilities of Informal Settlements
UN Photo/Kibae Park
story highlights

Cities are affected by more frequent extreme weather events of increasing magnitude that include floods, heatwaves and droughts.

A “multi-pronged approach” to resilience building, in addition to physical conditions, addresses social, economic and political capacities of local residents through a participatory process.

Additional funding will most likely be required for integrating climate action on adaptation and low-carbon development.

20 November 2018: Climate action in informal settlements calls for a “detailed, in-depth and nuanced” understanding of the physical conditions, the demographics and the differentiated vulnerabilities of affected populations, finds a UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) report titled, ‘Pro-Poor Climate Action in Informal Settlements.’

The thematic guide argues that such understanding is necessary for planning adequate interventions that are feasible and targeted to informal settlements. It highlights the need to promote climate compatible slum upgrading by addressing the most vulnerable first, identifies climate risks and vulnerabilities, outlines climate action in informal settlements, highlights climate finance as an opportunity, and formulates principles for action.

The publication addresses ways to build resilience for the “billion urban dwellers who are estimated to live in what are termed informal settlements.” It notes that these settlements have been built “outside the ‘formal’ system of laws and regulations that are meant to ensure safe, resilient structures, settlements and systems.”

With regard to risks and vulnerabilities, the authors note that cities are affected by more frequent extreme weather events of increasing magnitude that include floods, heatwaves, droughts, landslides, storms, wildfires, cyclones, coastal erosion and inundation, and sea surges. Underlying factors like physical location, residents’ socio-economic characteristics such as high levels of poverty and illiteracy, and the political and institutional marginalization of neighborhoods make informal communities particularly vulnerable, according to the report.

Local residents can play an active part in planning, designing and implementing actions.

The authors advocate for a “multi-pronged approach” to resilience building which, in addition to physical conditions, addresses social, economic and political capacities of local residents through a participatory process. The report identifies four areas where local residents can play an active part in planning, designing and implementing actions: upgrading to more resilient housing; upgrading infrastructure; enhancing ecosystems; and supporting community capacities.

The publication notes that additional funding will most likely be required for integrating climate action on adaptation and low-carbon development. It calls for new mechanisms to link formal climate finance mechanisms to the needs of informal settlements, which might include the bundling of projects, the development of new financial instruments, and the involvement of intermediary organizations.

The guide proposes a set of nine overarching principles for action to be applied when considering and implementing climate change measures in informal settlements: addressing development deficits with climate action mind and vice versa; downscaling vulnerability assessments and responses to city and neighborhood level; incorporating local knowledge in climate change responses; strengthening education and training; capacity building at neighborhood level; application of a mix of adaptation options; upscaling through co-production and collaboration between actors; recognizing opportunities by integrating informality into adaptation and mitigation; and using recovery processes as an opportunity for low-carbon and resilient development.

The thematic guide contributes to implementation of the New Urban Agenda (NUA) and 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, particularly SDG 13 (climate action) and SDG 11 (sustainable cities and communities), which commits to, by 2030, “enhance inclusive and sustainable urbanization and capacity for participatory, integrated and sustainable human settlement planning and management” (target 11.3) and “ensure access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services and upgrade slums” (target 11.1).

The report was published with support from the Government of Sweden through the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida), European Commission, African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) Secretariat, Cities Alliance, and International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED). [Publication: Pro-Poor Climate Action in Informal Settlements] [Relief Web Article]

related posts