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Symposium 2014

Virtual Library File - Climate Change, Disaster Risk, and the Urban Poor

The Challenge

Projections say that by 2050, the world will have undergone the largest and fastest period of urban expansion in human history. The urban population is estimated to double, while at the same time, the ...

Projections say that by 2050, the world will have undergone the largest and fastest period of urban expansion in human history. The urban population is estimated to double, while at the same time, the total urban area is projected to triple. City dwellers in emerging and developing countries, and their resource-intensive lifestyles, are increasingly going to create challenges in supporting many aspects of daily life. More urban dwellers require more resources such as water, land, food, and energy. These increases in demand put pressure on natural ecosystems in supporting cities. In addition, climate change, rising sea levels, or extreme weather events pose additional threats to cities. Infrastructure failure, such as electricity grid disruptions, flooding, diseases, and large-scale pollution, are some of the potential consequences.

This World Bank study casts a special focus on how climate change-related risks and disasters affect populations at highest risk, the urban poor. It calls on cities to take a lead role in proactively addressing the risks of climate change and natural hazards at the local level and suggests a number of actions that cities can take to build resilience, based on good-practice examples from a number of cities that are especially affected already, including Dar es Salaam, Jakarta, Mexico City, and São Paulo. It explains the difficult trade-offs that have to be made and challenges that have to be met when implementing suitable policies.