UN Organizations Address Sustainable, Resilient Cities
Kibae Park/Sipa Press
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FAO outlined nine benefits of planting trees in urban areas, and the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) launched a project to support African policymakers in building inclusive and sustainable cities.

The European Investment Bank is lending €200 million to Ukraine's Ministry of Transport for making public transport infrastructure more sustainable in 20 municipalities.

The World Bank reported that natural disasters may cost cities US$314 billion annually, while climate change may push another 77 million urban residents into poverty.

2 December 2016: Several cities-related events and initiatives have addressed the need for cities to adapt to climate change, the significant role they can play in mitigating emissions, and their potential to be more inclusive and sustainable.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) outlined nine benefits of planting trees in urban areas, emphasizing that trees can help mitigate the negative impacts and social consequences of urbanization. More specifically, trees in cities can: increase local food and nutrition security; increase urban biodiversity; help mitigate climate change; reduce the urban heat island effect and keep cities cool, and help communities adapt to climate change; act as filters for urban pollutants and fine particulates; improve physical and mental health by decreasing high blood pressure and stress; regulate water flow, reduce the risk of natural disasters and prevent floods; reduce carbon emissions by helping to conserve energy; and increase property value. [FAO Press Release]

The UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) launched a project aimed to strengthen the capacity of African policymakers in building inclusive and sustainable cities, during a workshop in Kampala, Uganda, held from 1-2 December 2016. The project, ‘Strengthening Member States’ Capacities in Designing and Implementing Strategies and Policies for Inclusive and Sustainable Cities in Africa,’ will seek to facilitate cross-sectoral and integrated policy responses to urbanization issues in national development planning, and to help implement and monitor the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, particularly Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11 (sustainable cities and communities). Initially the project will be implemented in Cameroon, Cape Verde, Morocco, Uganda and Zambia. [ECA Press Release]

The World Bank has released a report that cautions that without significant investment in making cities more resilient by 2030, natural disasters may cost cities US$314 billion annually, up from around US$250 billion currently, while climate change may push up to 77 million more urban residents into poverty.

On the role of cities in mitigation more specifically, the European Investment Bank (EIB) announced on 11 November 2016 that it is lending €200 million to Ukraine’s Ministry of Transport for upgrading public transport infrastructure in 20 municipalities, to shift from road to electric transport and more efficient operation of existing public transport systems. Investment costs are expected to total €400 million, for which EIB and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) are providing co-financing. [EIB Press Release]

On cities’ efforts to adapt to the negative impacts of climate change, the World Bank cautioned that without significant investment in making cities more resilient by 2030, natural disasters may cost cities US$314 billion annually, up from around US$250 billion currently, while climate change may push another 77 million urban residents into poverty. The World Bank report, titled ‘Investing in Urban Resilience: Protecting and Promoting Development in a Changing World,’ and released in October 2016, states that more than 60% of areas expected to be urban by 2030 have yet to be built, while one billion new housing units will required by 2060.

The authors describe challenges that limit resilience investments in developing cities, namely: lack of local government capacity to plan, finance and implement resilience projects; high up-front costs; and lack of private-sector confidence. The report recommends that municipal governments create a policy environment that encourages resilience by implementing and enforcing building codes, as well as a “pipeline of well-prepared, investor-ready projects.” [World Bank Press Release] [Investing in Urban Resilience: Protecting and Promoting Development in a Changing World]

Finally, the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group held its sixth biennial Mayors Summit, in Mexico City, Mexico. During the Summit, US mayors expressed commitment to combat climate change, others announced a ban of diesel cars, and incoming C40 Chair and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo launched an initiative supporting women leaders who are driving climate action.

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