October 31st is not only about Halloween, pumpkins, witches, and ghosts. It’s World Cities Day, the United Nations’ initiative to promote the international community’s interest in global urbanization and push forward cooperation to address the emerging challenges of sustainable urban development. This ties in with Sustainable Development Goal 11 (“make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”) and this year celebrations match the opening of the 26th UN Climate Change conference, also known as COP26, in Glasgow.
The theme for World Cities Day 2021 is Adapting Cities for Climate Resilience, reflecting the fact that climate change is highly impacting urban settlements, with hundreds of millions of people experiencing floods, rising sea levels, storms and increasing periods of extreme temperatures. Many cities are investing to improve their resiliency, but the lack of funding, capacity, and sometimes vision are threatening efforts to achieve notable results.
“The least well off in cities and communities will bear the brunt of climate change in the form of floods, droughts, landslides, extreme heat, storms and hurricanes. There are more than one billion people living in informal settlements with 70% of them highly vulnerable to climate change,” said UN-Habitat Executive Director Maimunah Mohd Sharif while presenting World Cities Day 2021. “We urgently need investment in climate resilience and innovative solutions”.
Adapting cities for climate resilience is paramount to mitigate risks posed by both predictable and unpredictable shocks and stresses. Among the strategies for climate-smart cities, UN-Habitat recommends to invest in climate-proof, more sustainable infrastructure, safeguarding access to basic urban services. As the world is urbanizing at a rapid pace and the frequency and intensity of natural disasters is projected to increase further in the coming decades, today’s infrastructure investment and development will determine how cities and people will be able to cope with future challenges.
This means a collective effort to reshape urban models (think of the “15-minute city” planning concept), design and implement resilient infrastructures, leverage smart technologies to increase efficiency, save key natural resources, reduce CO2 emissions, and grant access to urban services both in standard and crisis times.
The Internet of Things is the way to go to build climate-smart urban infrastructures and enable a data-driven management of urban services: want to learn more about this? Download our free white paper ‘The open road: A Smart City is an interoperable City‘ and ask Paradox Engineering’s experts how to start a smart journey in your city!