The 3rd ICLEI Resilient Cities 2012 global forum for learning, cooperation and networking on all aspects of urban resilience and adaptation to climate change took place in parallel to the recent UNFCCC SB meeting in Bonn, Germany in June. The forum is convened by ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability of over 1220 local government members who are committed to sustainable development, the City of Bonn, and the World Mayors Council on Climate Change. High level support is given by UN-HABITAT, Margareta WahlstrÃ¶m, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Disaster Risk Reduction, and Dr. Norbert RÃ¶ttgen, Federal Minister for the Environment Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, Germany. Around 300 delegates attended with good support from many UN or international bodies as well as interesting speakers and decision makers from the developing world.
Cities will play an increasingly important role in responding to climate change. They will be key to implementing the policies that may be decided at national level on mitigation but from their perspective there is a more urgent need for action at a local level to adapt to a changing climate and build urban resilience; and cities now widely recognize this as one of their greatest challenges. According to a study conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and ICLEI presented at the congress 79% of cities are already noticing changes in natural hazards, temperatures, precipitation and sea level rise that are affecting their communities. The study found that 68% of cities are engaging in adaptation planning, with 19% having done a risk assessment and another 19% planning to do one.
It is clear that there is a thin line between disaster risk management and adapting to climate change. It all depends on how you interpret the word disaster and in the end it doesn't matter, as when it happens you need to be ready! Responsiveness and being prepared are therefore crucial. Cities need the right tools, knowledge and capacity to do solid risk assessments to identify the most effective actions to counter risk. David Dodman, Senior Researcher at the IIED said: "Effective disaster risk reduction and adaptation is offering development opportunities in the short-term and reducing vulnerabilities long-term". But they also need to know how to finance these actions which are sometimes quite expensive. Cities need to develop integrated urban solutions based on solid risk assessments but implementing these solutions depends on access to funds and attracting private investment at the local level, as well as ensuring that people in the local community are part of the solutions. It is not yet clear who should pay; success also depends on an enabling, participatory policy framework, which at present is lacking in many places.
Bridging the Gap was able to attend and to moderate a forum hosted by Deutsche Post DHL on Resilient Urban Logistics and Green Freight. There are many aspects to this but the role of city logistics was highlighted as an often neglected one. Local governments face the challenge of balancing consumers' increasing appetite for goods and services within cities especially the notion of'just in time' deliveries with the challenge of low carbon delivery and transport services.
The three days saw a variety of presentations clustered around the main themes - including interesting sessions entitled'Reality Checks' where real live cases were presented with both successes and failures open for discussion. Several new tools such the new UNISDR Handbook'How to make cities more resilient', the European Climate Adaptation Platform (CLIMATE-ADAPT) a partnership between the European Commission (DG CLIMA, DG Joint Research Centre and other DGs) and the European Environment Agency to support Europe in adapting to climate change and other reports were also launched and more information can be downloaded from their website http://resilient-cities.iclei.org/