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World Cities Summit Encourages Climate-Friendly Urbanization in Asia-Pacific

4 July 2012: Experts at the World Cities Summit discussed strategies to help the urban poor adapt to climate change and to encourage climate-friendly urbanization in Asia-Pacific cities.

The Summit was based on the recognition that the challenge of increasing urbanization is particularly pressing in Asia-Pacific, home to half of the world's megacities and where over half of the population is expected to live in urban areas by 2026. Further, Asian cities are generally densely populated, which makes them more vulnerable to climate change.

Experts at the Summit discussed findings from the UN Development Programme's (UNDP) Asia-Pacific Human Development Report (HDR), titled “One Planet to Share: Sustaining Human Progress in a Changing Climate.” The report notes progress made in reducing slum numbers but stresses over half of the world's slum population resides in Asia-Pacific. These poor urban communities are more sensitive to climate change because their makeshift shelters are often located in flood-prone areas.

Addressing the Summit, UNDP Administrator Helen Clark called on decision makers in cities to "come together to address climate challenges in a way which also improves the overall quality of urban living.”

Summit participants also addressed the contribution of cities to greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions through consuming populations, energy use and transport. To mitigate these emissions, participants considered green strategies, including climate-friendly energy use, more efficient transport options and greener buildings.

Tommy Koh, Ambassador-at-large of Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, explained that such “integrated solutions can help cities move towards lower-carbon, more climate resilient development pathways.”

The UNDP report also spotlights Asia-Pacific cities that have initiated adaptive action and lower carbon-efficient pathways, including: participation of residents living in Bangladeshi slums in a climate-linked insurance scheme; the strengthening of dikes to improve flood control by municipal administrators in Hanoi, Viet Nam; the implementation in Tokyo, Japan, of Asia-Pacific's first city-level cap-and-trade scheme, which aims to lower urban emissions.

The World Cities Summit is a global platform for government leaders and industry experts to address livable and sustainable city challenges, share innovative urban projects and forge partnerships, and resulted in the signing of six new Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs). The World Cities Summit, which took place from 1-4 July 2012, in Singapore, was held in conjunction with the 5th Singapore International Water Week and the inaugural CleanEnviro Summit in Singapore. [Summit Website] [UNDP Press Release]