Journalists' role in pushing for climate resilient cities

Journalists’ role in pushing for climate resilient cities

Cities are on the front-line of climate change. Journalists have important roles to play in ensuring that cities make the most of finance to strengthen the resilience of vulnerable citizens and infrastructure, the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) said on Monday.

IIED urges journalists to help ensure that these funds become available.

“They can also shine a spotlight on how the funds are managed to ensure they are spent in ways that deliver substantial improvements to current living conditions and build resilience to future changes in the climate,” IIED senior researcher David Dodman said.

Many people in urban areas of Africa and Asia frequently live in places that are exposed to hazards, such as floods and tropical storms, which will become more frequent and intense in the coming decades, the London-based environmental group said.

Many towns and cities also lack the necessary basic infrastructure and resources to reduce the risk that such hazards pose, IIED said, adding that global discussions about finance to address this challenge seem far removed from this reality.

“The total amounts pledged by governments through the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change have not been generated – and even if they were, there are few pathways to transfer the funds to local or municipal governments,” Dodman lamented.

Yet, despite this difficult situation, cities can and do act.

A recent assessment of 468 cities worldwide indicated that 68% of them engaging in the process of climate adaptation planning.

Another survey showed 54 (of 110 cities) were acting to reduce risks from heat waves by planting trees and carrying out other activities, while 30 cities were going a step further by improving their storm water systems to reduce the risk from flooding. Read the summary report (PDF).

Even where funds are tight, there is a range of resources available to city governments to take actions that reduce risks, IIED said.

Few urban residents are aware of the range of funds that their cities could use to build resilience to climate change.
“Journalists can inform vulnerable citizens about them, so that citizens can in turn make the right demands from their authorities at different scales,” Dodman said.

“To do this effectively, journalists need to understand the variety of these funding sources, what these can be used for, what their limits are, what else is needed, and what other demands compete for the money.

“They must not let the apparent small size of the funds, or the fact that they are not labelled specifically for ‘climate adaptation’, blind them to their potential to strengthen people’s resilience to the impacts of climate change, and to improve their lives.”

Photo: World Bank

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