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Development Account Projects

Strengthening the capacities of Member States in the Asia-Pacific region to mainstream climate change concerns into national urban-related policies

Background:

In the face of the changing global climate, the future of millions of people in Asia and the Pacific will be determined by the pace and quality of the adaptation and mitigation undertaken by its cities. Climate change will challenge environmental sustainability, the structure of economies and patterns of settlements, livelihoods and employment. Furthermore, rapid urbanization in Asia and the Pacific is leading to a rapid increase in poverty in cities, with approximately one third of the region’s urban population now estimated to live in slums. It is these communities that are most at risk from climate change. Both city planning and climate change are addressed in “The future we want”, which emphasizes a holistic approach to urban development, highlighting the importance of addressing negative impacts of climate change, which undermine the ability of all countries, in particular, developing countries, to achieve sustainable development and the Millennium Development Goals.

Cities, i.e., local governments and urban stakeholders, have started to address climate change in the Asia-Pacific region by exploring low-carbon development paths and building up their resilience, including through the UN-Habitat Cities and Climate Change Initiative. However, these efforts remain local. The key obstacles to a broader urban sector response to climate change are:
(a) limited local and national capacities to address climate change challenges, aggravated by limited documentation and dissemination of good practices and regional support; (b) limited funding for climate change responses, particularly at the local level; and (c) a combination of a lack of political will (climate change is still seen as a threat well beyond the electoral cycle) and legal frameworks that do not anticipate rapid urban growth or climate change.

All these obstacles need to be urgently addressed. Given that the Cities and Climate Change Initiative supports local climate change action, the project is focused on supporting local and national governments in together strengthening national and multilevel governance climate change frameworks for cities, since climate change frameworks need to incorporate local and urban dimensions and urban frameworks need to recognize climate change. The emphasis is on climate change adaptation, including ecosystem-based adaptation and disaster risk reduction. These were identified by city representatives from the Asia-Pacific region at a conference on cities and climate change governance, organized by UN-Habitat in Sri Lanka in 2012, as the most strategic entry point in leveraging the support needed to address the other challenges, in particular climate change finance. The Cities and Climate Change Initiative is actively engaging with local and national governments in more than 15 countries in the Asia-Pacific region. UNEP has conducted reviews of national laws to mainstream climate change, and also wishes to address the urban dimension. ESCAP, with its convening power, will provide the regional platform for supporting legislative reform. Five countries will be selected in which, under the Cities and Climate Change Initiative, national policy gaps were identified that have hampered local climate change action.

Objective:

To strengthen the capacity of national Governments and urban stakeholders in the Asia-Pacific region to integrate climate change concerns into national urban policies and planning processes

Expected accomplishments:

  • Enhanced capacity of national Governments of five selected countries to address the urban dimension of climate change through national urban housing policies/ legislative reform
  • Enhanced commitment of national and local governments and other stakeholders in the Asia-Pacific region to incorporate climate change concerns into national urban policies

Implementation status:

In progress.