Cities are already facing the brunt of a range of interacting 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, such as sea-level rise, increased storm frequency and severity, and destruction to infrastructure such as ports, rail and road networks. These risks are amplified as urban populations become ever larger.
The Earth’s front-line defenders are disappearing at an astonishing rate. On average three environmental activists were killed each week in 2015, according to a recent report from the United Nations special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders. Global Witness, an international NGO that documents natural resource extraction, corruption, and violence, reports a 59 percent increase in deaths last year compared to 2014. In total, 185 killings of environmental defenders were recorded by Global Witness in 2015.
Diplomacy has an important role to play in creating an economy compatible with the target of staying below 2°C warming, agreed in Paris in 2015. At the climate conference in Marrakech (COP22) from 7 to 18 November 2016, dubbed the “implementation conference”, many new initiatives strengthened the impression that low-carbon transformation had gone mainstream.
Acute competition to access valuable resources in forested areas in Myanmar has, amongst other factors, contributed to large-scale deforestation and environmental degradation. This has had disastrous consequences for local communities dependent upon these forests for food, water, fuel, shelter and income.
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.
A greater understanding of the relationship between climate change, migration, cities and conflict is required in the global research community. Clemence Finaz, a Research Associate at International Alert, illustrates the complexities of a densely-populated city’s vulnerability to compound risks, including climate-related disaster and a high level of insecurity using the case example of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
Reforesting Kilimanjaro could ease East Africa's severe water shortages – UN
There is a need to reforest Africa’s highest mountain to help protect vital water supplies that are under threat across large parts of East Africa, a UN Environment report urged today.
Assessing the positive impacts of climate action, an approach which considers the broad spectrum of social, economic and health benefits, has increasingly gained global recognition. This is due, in part, to the insightful work done by the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate. On this platform, Christian Friis Bach from UNECE noted on February 2016: “Taking into account such co-benefits can radically change the picture and demonstrate that action can pay off, not only in the long term, but also in the short to medium term.” With the Paris Agreement recently ratified by the European Union (EU), what is the potential of the benefits approach for achieving these new commitments in Europe?
This week, Heads of State will formally adopt a ‘New Urban Agenda’ in Quito, Ecuador. It will be the outcome document agreed upon at the third United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) that aims to set the narrative for development in human settlements for the next ten to 20 years.
Approaches developed in Mali, Senegal, Kenya and Tanzania offer insights for building resilience in areas facing risks of climate change, disasters and conflict.
Plastics have boosted our economy because they are versatile, cheap and durable. Yet, thanks to these same traits, in the course of establishing a US$750 billion global industry, we have also created a massive problem. Rivers are filled with plastic garbage. Plastic bottles soil beaches. Masses of plastic are floating in the ocean. Birds become entangled in plastic pieces, and whales’ stomachs fill with plastic debris. Plastics can harm humans, too, by releasing toxic additives.
On June 29, 2016, President Barack Obama, President Enrique Peña Nieto and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met for the North American Leaders’ Summit (NALS) in Ottawa, Canada, and committed to improving the continent’s com
California has been at the forefront of the modern environmental movement that, in its most iconic form, we associate with hippies and alternative lifestyles. In the following decades, Silicon Valley - the mecca of tech-companies and engine of technological innovation and progress – also became another widely known Californian export. It is thus fitting that the Californian think tank The Breakthrough Institute held its annual Dialogue in Sausalito, CA, - close to Berkeley and Mountain View - bringing together scientists, journalists, activists, and entrepreneurs from across the world to discuss how to overcome societal and technological hurdles for a brighter future for humankind and nature.
We live in an urbanizing world. Up to two-thirds of the world’s population – some six billion people – may live in cities by 2050.
Cities have emerged as first responders to climate change because they experience the impacts of natural disasters firsthand and because they produce up to 70 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.