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UN-HABITAT Highlights Urban Adaptation Challenges in Colombia

UN-HABITATDecember 2012: The UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) has released a report, titled “The Impact of Climate Change on Urban Settlements in Colombia,” which finds that the poor face greater exposure to climate change. It stresses that urban adaptation policy has been neglected in Colombia, which has not mainstreamed adaptation in its national policies. 

Further, the report finds that policy frameworks only tangentially address urban issues, and do not cover urban poverty and inequality, noting that “critical impacts can neither be conceptualized nor measured.”

The report's introduction describes climate change trends and scenarios in Latin America and Colombia, and presents findings from Boyacá and Cundinamarca. It highlights likely ecosystem and livelihood transformations for urban settlements, including changes in agriculture, coastal and water resources, desertification and health. Chapter two discusses national, regional and urban policies and institutions for adaptation and disaster risk reduction (DRR), and presents a framework for understanding interactions among institutional and social actors. The third chapter examines the impacts of climate change on urban settlements and includes four case studies of urban vulnerability to environmental risk (Bogotá, Cartagena, Manizales and Tumaco). It also reviews historical trends in infrastructure and public services and highlights demographic, migration and socioeconomic trends that influence urban adaptation. Chapter Four explores adaptation among low-income groups, with a focus on poverty, a multi-dimensional Condition of Life Index (CLI) and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). While Colombian data shows progress on MDG indicators, the publication includes data that suggests Colombia may not meet all the MDGs, although it has achieved some targets on access to sanitation, maternal health and combatting malaria.

The conclusion finds that Colombia faces challenges in urban adaptation to climate change, including designing and implementing adaptation policies across institutions, sectors and scales and achieving democratic, effective and inclusive urban governance. This publication is part of UN-HABITAT's Global Urban Economic dialogues series, which produces publications that address urban economic development and its contribution to housing issues. [Publication: The Impact of Climate Change on Urban Settlements in Colombia]