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Cities Need a Systems-change Approach to Build Climate-resilient Communities

Cities occupy just 3 percent of the Earth’s land, but account for most of the global energy consumption and carbon emissions. Many cities are also more vulnerable to climate change and natural disasters due to their population densities and interconnected infrastructure. To avoid the most harmful impacts from climate change — including human, social and economic losses — we know building climate-ready cities is crucial. However, recent studies indicate that we are far from reaching global goals set out for making our cities more resilient.

A 2022 assessment released by the United Nations paints a stark picture of progress, describing a sense of “grave jeopardy.” So, what is the best way for cities to make the changes needed to meet global climate and development goals that would ensure a sustainable and inclusive future? The scale of this challenge calls for intense systems-level urban transformations.

WRI Ross Center Prize for Cities Applications Are Now Open

The WRI Ross Center Prize for Cities celebrates urban transformations like the cities featured in this article. Now in its fourth cycle, the 2023-2024 Prize aims to elevate cities around the theme “accelerating momentum for climate-ready communities.” Visit the WRI Ross Center Prize for Cities for more information on how to apply.

This means moving beyond narrow approaches that only focus on a single issue, such as transportation or housing, and embracing bigger solutions that demonstrate life-changing impacts on people’s lives and have ripple effects on institutions and the wider city. Systems change in cities involves transforming multiple components of a particular urban system to create a holistic positive shift of the entire system.

Urban transformation is difficult to achieve in practice. There is often a distance between the kinds of solutions that are needed and how cities actually work. Limited resources and the difficulties of coordinating many stakeholders, among many other barriers, limit the ability to make meaningful systemic changes.





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16 more agrees trigger contact with the recipient

  • George Kariuki

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    50 w

    Collective action and international cooperation are crucial to overcome the challenges of building climate-resilient cities.

    5
    • Tabitha Kimani

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      51 w

      True. We need to rethink the sustainability of our cities.

      5
      • Joseph Githinji

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        51 w

        The future is urban and planning is key. I agree with UN that authorities must work beyond housing and transportation and work towards creating smart cities. This will include sustainable development goals, especially on diet , clean water and sanitation.

        6
        • bonke reinhard

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          51 w

          Despite the challenges together will make a milestone once we all understand the importance

          2
          • winnie nguru

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            51 w

            I really hope to see climate ready cities in future despite the challenges involved in achieving this

            2
            • zelda ninga

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              51 w

              Urban transformation is not hard if we all know the benefits that comes with having less carbon.

              13
              • harun maliiha

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                51 w

                Thanks

                12
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