Rapidly growing urban areas, particularly in the developing world, face significant pressures from rapid urbanization, climate change and environmental degradation. The constellation of issues around global environmental change and adaptation in urban areas constitutes one of the fastest growing parts of START’s portfolio. START supports and carries out a number of activities each year with the aim of building adaptive capacities for managing and reducing risks and vulnerabilities in urban areas.
For example, START’s Cities at Risk (CAR) program promotes and supports the development of urban adaptive capacities in Asian coastal megacities, with particular emphasis on integrating science and policy in managing and reducing risks and vulnerabilities brought on by climate change and urban growth. Program activities bring together scientists, city planning professionals, representatives from policy and development organizations and other civil society practitioners for international conferences, visioning exercises, regional training and assessment workshops and city-specific research, training and communication initiatives. CAR is implemented in partnerships with the Southeast Asia START Regional Research Center (SEA-START), the East West Center (EWC) and others.
Related CAR activities that were recently initiated include:
- A national science-policy dialogue for North Coastal Jakarta (Indonesia) that produced a two-year action plan for climate change training and communication activities for the city;
- Initiation of a visiting scientists and young scholars’ program at the Integrated Research on Disaster Risk (IRDR)—International Centre of Excellence in Taipei with biannual themes related to climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction; and,
- Collaborative efforts to create, test and promote dissemination of training modules that support integration of climate change and climate change adaptation into the curriculum of Asian planning schools.
START is a partner in the Coastal Cities at Risk (CCAR) program that is being led by
the University of Western Ontario, Canada. CCAR facilitates research and knowledge exchange between cities in Southeast Asia, West Africa, and Canada to inform the development of strategies and methodologies to integrate climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction, particularly in the area socio-economic development and human health. Project teams include both academics and practitioners.
START’s contribution to the CCAR project serves as a first step in expanding its CAR focus to Africa. Plans are underway to initiate additional CAR activities in Africa in 2012.
The overall objective of the Coastal Cities at Risk (CCaR): Building Adaptive Capacity for Managing Climate Change in Coastal Megacities Program is to develop the knowledge base and enhance the capacity of mega-cities to successfully adapt to and when necessary cope with risks posed by the effects of climate change, including sea level rise, in the context of urban growth and development.