Welcome to the United Nations. It's your world.
United Nations Development AccountUnited Nations Headquarters New York Desa Home

Development Account Projects

Building capacities of local governments in Africa to cope with climate change


Climate Change is now recognized as one of the key challenges of the 21st century. The future of hundreds of millions of people in urban areas across the world will be affected by the different impacts of climate change. Global warming will put cities at risk by exacerbating existing environmental, social and economic problems, while bringing new challenges. The most affected will be the world’s urban poor – the slum dwellers.

There is no doubt that in addition to efforts at the global and national levels local authorities will have to lead in finding local solutions to these global challenges, which will mainly be felt in cities. So far, there are only a few comprehensive examples of mitigation and adaptation at the local level. What are still missing are a global overview and a platform for discussions and exchange of good practices as well as a normative support for local authorities to adequately mitigate and adapt to climate change.

In this context, Africa is the continent expected to be most affected by climate change, which threatens up to 40% of human settlements. At the urban level, African cities are vulnerable to a number of impacts from climate variability, including sea level rise, water scarcity, extreme weather, flooding, exacerbated food insecurity due to lower agricultural production, increase in vector and water borne disease, and overall hotter temperatures and urban heat islands. In fact, changes in rainfall patterns and droughts have already begun to affect countries all over Africa. At the same time, Africa's urbanization rate is the highest worldwide. The continent’s urban populations are projected to increase from 39.7% in 2005 to 53.5% by 2030. Each year, African city populations grow by over 3.5% - equal to a doubling every 10-15 years - and demands for housing, infrastructure and resources are already unsustainable. Lagos, Dar es Salaam, Kampala, Luanda, Nairobi, Addis Ababa, Maputo, Dakar and Douala are among the fastest-growing cities worldwide. How these cities will develop and grow will have a major influence on the susceptibility of cities to the impacts of climate change, and especially the vulnerable urban dwellers already living in poverty and struggling with inadequate infrastructure and services.

This project aims to develop the capacities of local government and their citizens to better cope with the effects of climate change at the local level. The project will be implemented in five countries in Africa. Given the vulnerability of coastal cities to climate change, this project will give due consideration to this regions by selecting at least one coastal city.s.


To strengthen the capacities of local government in the Africa region on mitigation and adaptation measures to climate change.

Expected Accomplishments:

  • To strengthen and expand existing climate change networks in five selected countries in Africa, by introducing the local government dimension.

  • To build capacity of local governments in Africa on climate change mitigation and adaptation .

  • Improved policy dialogue, synergies and links between national and local climate change policies and programmes.

Implementation Status:

The Resilient Cities Conference organised by ICLEI was attended by 500 Mayors, municipal decision makers and experts from universities and international organizations from all continents. The Bonn Declaration of the Mayors Adaptation Forum 2010 was adopted as the local governments' loudest international response to the failed UN Climate Change Conference (COP15) in Copenhagen of December 2009. The declaration called for an increase of space for local governments in the national arena and in global agenda-setting. The congress also saw the launch of the Making Cities Resilient Campaign by the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction.    

A climate change action handbook for managers and city practitioners on climate change is being adapted for African cities. The handbook builds on the advocacy tool on “Local Leadership for Climate Change Action” which was launched during COP 16 in Cancún, Mexico in December 2010, the gender vulnerability checklist which has just been finalized to make the national adaptation and mitigation strategies more gender responsive and the Green House Gas (GHG) Emissions Standard  which was prepared in collaboration with the World Bank, UNEP and the Cities Alliance, and was officially launched in March 2010 at WUF 2010 in Rio de Janeiro.