Thursday, June 23, 2011

Climate Change, Disaster Risk, and the Urban Poor

Poor people living in slums are at particularly high risk from the impacts of climate change and natural hazards. They live on the most vulnerable lands within cities, typically areas that are deemed undesirable by others and are thus affordable.
Residents are exposed to the impacts of landslides, sea-level rise, flooding, and other hazards. Exposure to risk is exacerbated by overcrowding living conditions, lack of adequate infrastructure and services, unsafe housing, inadequate nutrition, and poor health. These conditions can turn a natural hazard or change in climate into a disaster, and result in the loss of basic services, damage or destruction to homes, loss of livelihoods, malnutrition, disease, disability, and loss of life.
This study examines the interlinkages between climate change, disaster risk, and the urban poor, underscoring four key messages:
  • The urban poor are on the front line. The poor are particularly vulnerable to climate change and natural hazards due to where they live within cities, and the lack of reliable basic services.
  • City governments are the drivers for addressing risks through ensuring basic services. Local governments play a vital role in financing and managing basic infrastructure and service delivery for all urban residents. Basic services are the first line of defense against the impacts of climate change and natural hazards.
  • City officials build resilience by mainstreaming risk reduction into urban management. Climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction can be best addressed and sustained over time through integration with existing urban planning and management practices. Good practice examples exist and can be replicated in cities around the world.
  • Significant financial support is needed. Local governments need to leverage existing and new resources to meet the shortfalls in service delivery and basic infrastructure adaptation.