By 2050, two thirds of the world’s population is projected to live in urban areas – an additional 2.5 billion people compared to the present day. As the concentration of people, and economic assets, in cities grow, the importance of building urban resilience through managing the disaster risks and the impacts of climate change increases.
There is an untapped resource that can help cities build resilience to climate impacts. As cities develop their own individual responses to increasing climate risks, a strong knowledge base of cutting-edge science and case studies of effective actions in other cities is being developed by the Urban Climate Change Research Network (UCCRN), a consortium of over 800 individuals dedicated to analyzing climate change impacts, adaptation, and mitigation from an urban perspective. Our proposed ‘Resilience Without Borders’ program will leverage the resources and expertise to which the UCCRN already has access, to enhance the capacities of cities to develop science-based, pro-poor climate change resilience strategies.
The Resilience Without Borders program will bring science to cities, tailored to their local climatic and socio-economic conditions, while also facilitating knowledge-sharing and knowledge management through multi-city collaborations. The Resilience Without Borders program will do this through:
(1) Direct training — directly training scientists on climate science methodologies, models, and frameworks by hosting regional and topical workshops and seminars, and also utilizing our experience working with the Mayors Office of the City of New York (via the New York City Panel on Climate Change) to teach scientists how to engage and connect with city leaders and local stakeholders, to ensure co-generation of climate information that can be incorporated into city planning initiatives.
(2) Collaborative learning — facilitating city partnerships via the established UCCRN Regional Hubs and our existing partnership with the CityLinks Climate Adaptation program, connecting cities to one another for the flow of shared knowledge and best practices. This will also be enabled by the UCCRN Case Study Docking Station, an online repository of city adaptation and mitigation success stories, categorized by parameters such as climate risk faced by the city, city population, gross national income, Human Development Index, and climate zone.
Essentially, the objective of UCCRN’s proposal for the Resilience Without Borders program is three-fold:
- To lead a sustained assessment and training process of cutting-edge climate change research tailored for urban needs, with a focus on translating scientific knowledge into action-oriented guidance for cities and city stakeholders.
- To strengthen researcher-practitioner and city-to-city partnerships via the UCCRN Regional Hubs, which encourage knowledge exchange both for and with city leaders, city stakeholders, and local scientists in order to support institutional capacity development.
- To provide demand-responsive, time-sensitive information and guidance to enhance city action on climate change, with a particular emphasis on bridging the gap between leading and lagging cities, and to promote the rapid dissemination of best practices to city stakeholders and decision-makers.
Discussions will facilitate the co-production of knowledge in two areas:
Urban climate science – improved understanding and access to the latest scientific research on climate change and cities including how to assess local risks and impacts and translate this into effective, integrated climate resilience plans in the short and medium term that are evidence-based and prioritize local/community needs.
Equity and environmental justice – methods for assessing the differentiated vulnerabilities and adaptive capacities of urban residents - including the poor, women, the elderly, children, and ethnic minorities who are often more susceptible to climate risks – and ensuring equitable climate change informed policies, for example, through the participation of impacted communities and civil society and adherence to the principles of transparency in spending, monitoring, and evaluation.
The leadership role of cities in adapting and mitigating climate change is likely to expand and deepen as the implementation phase of global climate change action gets underway. Many cities around the world have answered the call to action, yet many of the most vulnerable municipalities, who have to bear the additional burden of burgeoning urbanization, do not have the capability to do so.
The establishment of the Resilience Without Programs will ensure that cities are enabled in adapting and mitigating climate change by (a) having access to UCCRN's network and research, and (b) having access to the necessary scientific training and knowledge. This will ultimately result in increased peace in the neighborhood and community, by way of decreased stress and fear of hurricanes, storm surges, sea level rise, flooding, and economic volatility due to such climate impacts. City sectors – water, energy, transport, sanitation, health – will be made more resilient to climate risks. Cities that are particularly vulnerable to climate-related risks will be able to learn new climate-resilient techniques from each other.
City citizens, scientists, and stakeholders will benefit greatly from the access to the knowledge and training made possible by the Resilience Without Borders.