The fifth Adaptation Futures international conference was held in Cape Town recently. The conference facilitates dialogues for solutions to adaptation issues and increase developing world participation.
The severe drought and possible wholesale water rationing in 2019 in Cape Town has helped bring to the forefront just how important it is for cities, not only in South Africa but around the world, to be prepared for climate change adaptation.
Other cities, including Melbourne, Los Angeles, Sao Paulo, La Paz and Maputo, have all experienced similar crises and this will continue to be an issue due to the fact that resources and capabilities to expand and upgrade the water infrastructures serving these cities are limited.
The future of cities facing climate change
However, even though cities house more than half the world’s population, consume 75% of its energy and emit 80% of all greenhouse gases, they are innovative sites for policy solutions. The future of cities around the world is optimistic due to both climate change mitigation and adaptation.
Here are a few ways cities are able to adapt and even thrive as the global climate shifts:
- Reduce waste and make recycling common practice, plant more trees and integrate green spaces, modernize waste treatment, encourage public transportation use, and repave roads with permeable materials, to name a few. Many cities are already investing in high-speed rails, electric bus networks and modernised subways. In 2016, for instance, the first fully electric train system in Africa came online.
- An integrated approach needs to be taken to find solutions and come up with strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, enhance urban food security, alleviate urban poverty and save and utilise water sustainably.
- There should be sustained investment in experimentation, research and anticipatory planning in order to create long term solutions.
- Competent and intelligent leadership with open communication with local citizens in order to foster trust and collaboration.
- Climate change disproportionately affects the large numbers of urban poor and vulnerable groups. When making changes all factors and the people they affect need to be taken into consideration.
- Households, businesses and citizens on an individual level need to continue collecting and reusing greywater and generally playing their part when it comes to living greener and more sustainably.
Unfortunately, some lessons in climate change need to be learned the hard way. Different cities face unique challenges but being able to adapt to climate change will allow us to move forward and be more prepared in the future. Research is essential for finding the right solutions and management methods for climate change.
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