Local adaptation action – from Resilient Cities 2013

Two key points were established in the first plenary session of Resilient Cities 2013. Firstly, the clearest connection between mitigation and adaptation is that a lack of international agreement on mitigation will allow GHG emissions to continue to rise and more drastic adaptation actions will therefore be required. The second point is that national level governments are proving equally ineffective at taking effective actions on adaptation to climate change as they are on mitigation.

Resilient Cities an initiative of ICLEI, the organisation of Local Governments for Sustainability, is a direct answer to this inaction. Resilience was formed as a theme and formalised in the Durban Adaptation Charter following the failed negotiations in the Copenhagen COP15 of 2009. Why are local governments better equipped to undertake adaptation? Climate change impacts vary greatly and effective action requires an understanding of the impacts at a local scale. Local governments are also managing many of the functions that will need to integrate adaptation concerns including development controls and service delivery.

This is not to say that national governments do not have a role. They can provide frameworks for action, funding and important coordination roles. However, the evidence is that cities are overwhelming leading the way in adaptation action.

As part of the Resilient Cities initiative ICLEI convenes a yearly conference to bring together adaptation practitioners, government, multilateral organisations, NGOs and academics to learn from each others experiences. The Resilient Cities 2013 Conference is now in its fourth year.

Edge Environment was proud to present an example of this leading work in the project for resilient housing in Lake Macquarie City Council area. Other examples of adaptation in the same session came from Helsinki, Johannesburg and Idaho. While the climate change issues were different in each case, many similarities could be seen including data requirements, funding issues, stakeholder engagement processes and political considerations. A summary of the session is available on the conference website here.

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