Urban futures require a disaster risk lens

IKI´s Transformative Urban Coalitions project presented its work at the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction.

The necessary and required urban futures can only be reached by working and addressing multiple goals together. This means finding innovative solutions that tackle not only climate adaptation and climate mitigation but also disaster risk reduction. 

With this in mind, the United Nations University – Institute of Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS), together with the German Institute of Development and Sustainability (IDOS), the World Resources Institute – Ross Center for Sustainable Cities (WRI), and the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) joined efforts to share visions of desirable urban futures at the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in Bali, Indonesia.

A mind-set shift towards achieving zero carbon emissions in cities

As part of the Transformative Urban Coalitions project, funded by the International Climate Initiative (IKI), UNU-EHS, WRI, IDOS and IIED seek to shift mind-sets inside cities towards achieving zero carbon emissions, by altering the deeper social, cultural, and political structures and systems that are currently reinforcing high-carbon and unsustainable urbanization. Through innovative actor coalitions, the project aims to co-create new strategies for addressing local challenges in urban development and inequality, while at the same time reducing carbon emissions in five Latin American cities. The project was virtually presented in May,   at the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in Bali, Indonesia.

As part of the event Thorsten Klose-Zuber, Head of Department Climate Policy, Economy and Society at Zukunft-Umwelt-Gesellschaft (ZUG) gGmbH supported the move saying, “Within the Transformative Urban Coalitions Project, the German Government funds an excellent example of how global sustainability starts at the local scale.” He further added that, “it is in our neighborhoods, where we must pilot progressive climate action, for example, in the form of urban living labs.”

Simone Sandholz, Head of Urban Futures and Sustainability Transformation (FAST) Programme at UNU-EHS, stated that, “transformation needs to include different types of actors, their wishes, their backgrounds, and also their ideas about what is a desirable urban future.” 

Analyses in five Latin American cities

Pablo Lazo, Director of Urban Development and Accessibility for WRI Mexico, gave a summary of the Transformative Urban Coalitions projects work in Latin America: 

“We selected five cities from the region to explore, under different lines of work. We then looked at how we can decarbonize these cities, what needs to be done at the different levels of stakeholders, institutional frameworks, and also with the people toachieve this urgent decarbonisation and face the challenges of climate change.”

Five "Urban Labs" have been established in cities in Argentina, Brazil and Mexico, to develop new models of urban coalition building and governance. “The project seeks that, whatever can be achieved in the definition of goals, consensus and new models of collaboration, may be replicable in similar cities,” said Pablo Lazo. 

Subsequently, experts working in the different cities explained the local demands, shedding light on how the Transformative Urban Coalitions project will develop tangible, catalytic and transformative solutions to urban challenges that contribute to sustainable development towards zero carbon cities. 

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