UN-Habitat’s Cities and Climate Change Initiative (CCCI) is the Agency’s flagship Initiative supporting cities in emerging and developing countries to address the climate challenge. The Initiative supports cities responding to the negative impact of climate change already being felt worldwide and putting in place appropriate mitigation measures. CCCI emphasizes participatory processes, sound analysis, sustainable urban planning, good governance, responsive leadership, and practical initiatives.
Climate adaptation is essential to building climate resilience and achieving sustainable development goals. United Nations adopted “SDG 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities” focussed on “Making Cities and Human Settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”. UNHabitat was made responsible to build capacities in sustainable urban management. This task was further underlined and emphasized with the adoption of “The New Urban Agenda” adopted at the Habitat III Conference in Quito Ecuador in 2016, a charter for guiding urbanization for the next twenty years.
As cities grow and become an increasingly center of human settlements and economic activities, there is an essential need to balance the human and natural systems at play. It’s tough to evaluate the impact of urbanization on communities, climate, and the environment and identify future needs and focus areas without a standard assessment framework.
The Urban Sustainability Assessment Framework (USAF) developed under the Sustainable Cities Integrated Approach Pilot (SCIAP) project, implemented by UNIDO and UNHabitat, is an essential first step in this direction. Piloted in the cities of Bhopal, Guntur, Jaipur, Mysuru, and Vijayawada, urban diagnostics were conducted through the application of USAF, covering sectors such as public space and safety, housing and property, water, sanitation, solid waste management, transportation, social facilities, and services, environment and ecology, clean energy, disaster risk management, governance and data management and finance and economy.
The city diagnostic reports produced under the project have proved to be instrumental in informing policymakers, partners, and communities of the sustainable city strategies and related actions and interventions. A glance at the USAF fact sheet for the pilot cities serves to remind the varying needs and issues to be addressed. For instance, take Jaipur, a UNESCO world heritage site built in 1727 and one of India’s first planned cities, and Guntur, a city in Andhra Pradesh. Situated in the northern and southern regions, respectively, both Jaipur and Guntur are multiplying, a mounting list of urban and environmental issues that need immediate attention and institutional remediation.
In Guntur, a formerly agricultural region, urban sprawl has led to a significant loss in cultivated land, and city dwellers suffer from a lack of open spaces and inadequate water supply. Similar issues have been in Jaipur too. Besides, master plans or zonal development plans have not been updated in a decade, and they do not have GHG monitoring systems. However, there is a significant divergence in other issues, such as sewage connectivity, healthcare facilities, and solid waste management. Hence, such a quick comparison makes apparent the vast differences in urban centers’ issues and the pervasiveness of threats to the quality of life and nature across the board.
Sustainable cities can serve as hubs of innovation for climate action, creating green-value chains and new employment opportunities while offering a more excellent quality of life and a quicker pathway to realizing the SDGs. The World Urban Forum (WUF) 11th Edition, a premier global conference on sustainable urbanization is scheduled to be held in the Polish city of Katowice from 26-30 June 2022 with the theme of ʽTransforming our Cities for a Better Urban Future’. WUF 11 will provide greater insights and clarity on the future of cities.