Urban Poverty and Climate Change: Global Video Dialogue with Mayors | World Bank Institute (WBI)

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February 1, 2010—Four different countries, four different megacities, and yet they face similar problems. Dar es Salaam, Jakarta, Mexico City, and São Paulo all grapple with rapidly increasing numbers of poor people, limited access to electricity and sanitation, and air pollution. The challenges mount as cities expand. By 2050, about 70 percent of the world’s people will live in cities. Ninety percent of this growth will happen in developing countries where cities are engines of economic growth, generating significant income and job opportunities. Climate change complicates matters, as more frequent floods and landslides hit the urban poor hardest and put cities on the front lines of the struggle to adapt to climate change and mitigate its negative impacts.
 

open-quotesSome will be talking and some will be doing - with or without the Copenhagen Accord.close-quotesAdam Kimbisa, Mayor of Dar es Salaam

The power of connecting these cities and their leaders to discuss common problems and share experiences was clearly demonstrated in a joint event organized by the World Bank Institute, the Urban Department in the Bank’s Sustainable Development Network, and the Global Development Learning Network (GDLN). Mayors and city representatives from Jakarta, Dar es Salaam, São Paulo, Mexico City, and Toronto framed and led a two-hour interactive video dialogue on urban poverty and climate change. The Bank provided the platform for this South-South knowledge exchange.
 
Bank Priority in 2010
 
Following the Climate Summit for Mayors that took place during the Climate Conference in Copenhagen, World Bank Group President Bob Zoellick stressed the importance of the topic. “This work with a group of mayors needs to be a real priority of ours,” Zoellick said during the session. “Cities present enormous growth and development opportunities. We’re trying to see how some of the poor areas of cities, and particularly slum areas, can be upgraded from both an economic development point of view and also a climate change point,” he added.  
 
“Cities are the leaders in both mitigation – the reducing of greenhouse gases – and adaptation. The most exposed are the poor who live in urban areas, because they live in the most marginalized parts of every city,” emphasized David Cadman, President of ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability.
 
City Voices
 
“Some will be talking and some will be doing – with or without the Copenhagen Accord,” said Adam Kimbisa, Mayor of Dar es Salaam, who outlined actions taken by his city. With migrants living on less than a dollar a day making up 85 percent of Dar’s slum-dwellers, the city has invested in slum upgrading, tree planting, and the conversion of dumping areas. Dar has also innovated by producing briquettes made of recycled trash, replacing charcoal as fuel for family cooking stoves. As a result, the use of wood and related air pollution has been dramatically reduced.
 
“Local governments have to take action,” said Rafael Seixas from the mayor’s office in São Paulo. ”We have a pioneer experience in our landfills with carbon credit generation and the auctioning of carbon credits in our stock exchange market. Some of these resources are being invested in a slum upgrading program near the landfill. So that’s an example of how carbon finance can have an immediate social impact in cities.”
 
“In Jakarta we are involved in a multitude of actions ranging from low-carbon energy for transportation, car emission reductions, electricity saving, flood control programs and water treatment systems. But the link between national and sub-national governments has to be strengthened so that we can be more effective,” said Fauzi Bowo, Governor of Jakarta. 
 
“The question is how to channel funds to cities at the right scale. The lack of financial ability is one of the main problems for cities to move forward. That’s where the Bank can help,” stressed Marcelo Luís Ebrard, Mayor of Mexico City, who is taking the lead in preparing a mayors’ conference in November 2010 in Mexico City. Cities and climate change will be high on the agenda for action.
 
“Climate change is not a problem created by the poor in developing countries,” said Toronto Mayor David Miller who is also the current chair of C-40, a group of the world’s largest cities committed to tackle climate change.“The developed world created this problem and now we have to find solutions. Otherwise we’ll face mass migration of an unseen scale."
 
New Task Force on Cities and Climate Change
 
The mayors agreed to join a new task force with Mexico City’s Mayor Ebrard as lead convenor. “We are very happy to actively support this task force,” said Abha Joshi-Ghani, Manager, Urban Development and Local Government. “The task force will focus on three aspects: take stock of our understanding of the linkages between urban poverty and climate change, identify good practices on how to improve urban poverty while reducing climate vulnerability, and promote investment programs that can scale up good practices.”
 
“The mayors’ commitment to engage in this task force on urban poverty and climate change was truly inspiring. WBI will support the new task force in achieving tangible results by the time of the next Climate Conference in Mexico,” concluded Konrad von Ritter, Manager of WBI’s Climate Change Practice.
 
This video conference during the Sustainable Development Network (SDN) Forum launched a new World Bank Institute Global Dialogue Series: The Road from Copenhagen to Mexico. The series creates a platform for South-South learning, allowing mayors and other decision-makers to exchange innovations, proven concepts, and new ideas. More global dialogues are planned for the coming months, focusing on such themes as parliamentarians and climate change, youth and climate change.  For announcements and more information please continue to visit WBI's website: www.worldbank.org/wbi.
 
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