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Cities and Climate Change: An Urgent Agenda

Cities and Climate Change Cover

New publication: Climate change is affecting cities and their residents, especially the poor, and more severe impacts are expected as climate extremes and variability increase. Cities and Climate Change: An Urgent Agendadiscusses the link between climate change and cities, why cities should be concerned about climate change and adopt early preventative policies, and how the World Bank and other organizations can provide further support to cities on climate change issues. ... more ... 

The World Bank’s strategy on urban environment addresses livability for residents, especially the poor, and the larger impacts from urbanization on local ecosystems, pollution and sustainability of natural resources use. Urban livability issues affect all urban populations; however, their impacts are most severely felt by the poor. Urban livability includes regional pollution and impact on natural resources, as well as issues typically considered such as:

Providing sanitation and drainageProtecting environmentally sensitive lands from development
Managing solid waste, including medical and hazardous wasteProtecting and enhancing environmental health in urban areas
Addressing indoor and ambient air pollutionProtecting regional water, soil and air quality from urban pollution
Preventing and mitigating urban impacts on natural disaster occurrence and extentMinimizing the urban impact on natural resources at regional and global scales, including climate change

Addressing these issues in an integrated way is part of the World’s Bank role. Challenges imposed by an urbanizing world are complex, and therefore innovative, holistic and integrative solutions are needed. But cities are also the source of knowledge, economic growth, and momentum. Cities are where the bulk of humanity now lives, and more people are moving to cities every day. Nowhere is innovation more critical than in humanity’s response to climate change and a city-led implementation of sustainable development. ‘Sustainable cities’ are the best, and arguably only, option to delink a high quality of life with high resource consumption, and reduce the corresponding pollution that comes with much of today’s consumption, such as GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions, air pollution, wastewater and solid waste.

The World Bank Urban and Local Government Strategy outlines the complex systems that are now our cities, and proposes ways to work with cities. As one of the Strategy’s five business lines, “Promoting a safe and sustainable urban environment”, an active and innovative World Bank program on urban environment, climate change, and disaster management, is considered critical for cities and local governments in the decade ahead. This strategy advocates a focus on urban form and design to achieve efficiency gains, reduce a city’s GHG emissions, and take advantage of the co-benefits of climate change mitigation and adaptation.

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