Cities are on the sharp end of a range of risks from criminal violence, terrorism and war to demographic pressures, to climate and environmental change. Coastal megacities are especially at risk given the specific impacts of climate change they face, including accelerated global sea-level rise, increased storm frequency and severity, and destruction to critical infrastructure such as port facilities, rail and road linkages, and energy installations, all of which are amplified as urban populations become ever larger.
The science is clear: To prevent major disruption, the global community must take steps to address climate change. But it is also increasingly clear that efforts to address climate change can have major effects on societies that are not always anticipated.
In December, the leading lights of the climate and security community launched an unprecedented declaration to catalyse action in the field in front of 350 participants at the Planetary Security Conference.
The world's foremost gathering on reducing disaster risk and building the resilience of communities and nations, the Global Platform for Disaster Reduction was first held in 2007. It takes place every two years, with the 2015 edition rolled into the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction. Its fifth session will be held in May 2017 in Mexico.
The theme of ECCA 2017 is "Our Climate Ready Future". The vision is that this conference will inspire and enable people to work together to discover and deliver positive climate adaptation solutions that can strengthen society, revitalise local economies and enhance the environment. We will bring together the people who will deliver action on the ground – from business, industry, NGOs, local government and communities – to share knowledge, ideas and experience with researchers and policymakers.
Since the Uri army base attack on 18 September 2016, in which 17 Indian soldiers were killed (called the “deadliest attack on the security forces in Kashmir in two decades”), relations between India and Pakistan have been at an all-time low. While India has provided ample evidence to establish the origin of the attack as Pakistan, the latter continues to be in denial. India has been on a diplomatic and political offensive ever since – attempting to isolate Pakistan globally, carrying out surgical strikes against “launch pads” for terrorists across the Line of Control (LoC) and re-examining some of the existing bilateral treaties, one of them being the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT).
In a totally different but connected case, the Green Climate Fund (GCF) has been forced to keep on hold a big project meant to reduce the risk of glacial lake outburst floods (GLOF) in northern Pakistan, which also includes disputed territory of Gilgit-Baltistan – mainly due to objections raised by India.
This report takes stock of key developments since the publishing of the independent report A New Climate For Peace commissioned by G7 members. It provides a concise risk horizon scan, and an overview and assessment of key policy developments in 2015 and 2016 that are of relevance for addressing climate-fragility risks and fostering the global resilience agenda.
Large-scale efforts are being undertaken to address the challenges of improving energy access and of climate change adaptation. Author Dr. Vigya Sharma argues that too little thought is given to identifying links between the two, and that tackling poverty and impacts from climate change in an integrated way stregthens our chances of achieving both objectives.
Recently released by the World Bank, Unbreakable: Building the Resilience of the Poor in the Face of Natural Disasters finds that extreme natural disasters cost the global economy $520 billion in lost consumption each year – 60 percent higher than any previous estimate. Traditional disaster risk assessments have focused solely on aggregate losses, or how “disasters affect people wealthy enough to have wealth to lose.” But, as the report points out, a dollar in losses does not mean the same thing to the wealthy as it does to the poor. Instead, the report uses a new measurement that moves beyond asset losses to estimate a community’s socioeconomic resilience – or the ability to resist, absorb, accommodate, and recover from the effects of a hazard in a timely manner.
Following last month’s United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) in Quito, Ecuador, it is worth raising attention to the key challenges and opportunities that the urbanisation process imposes on peaceful development. In fragile contexts, such as urban areas which are already highly exposed to multiple risks (including climate change, disasters, chronic poverty, insecurity and population displacement), the converging effects of climate change and growing youth populations can severely affect security risks.
Last month, the urban community met in Quito, Ecuador for the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III). At this event, United Nations (UN) member states agreed on the New Urban Agenda, which elucidates a broad vision for sustainable cities. Since returning from Quito, many participants of the Habitat III conference have asked: what now? What is the significance of the New Urban Agenda, and how will it be implemented? After some brief observations on the relevance of the Habitat III process in general, this article delves into the implications of the New Urban Agenda for urban resilience in particular.