Seven in 10 people will be living in urban areas by 2050 and population growth will be concentrated in cities in the Global South. This rapid urbanisation in low and middle income countries (LMICs) is putting increased pressure on infrastructure and services as well as governance systems. Cities in LMICs are also where the impacts of climate change are becoming more significant, in both frequency and intensity. Millions of city residents currently live in precarious housing in under serviced neighbourhoods.
The GCRF Centre for Sustainable, Healthy and Learning Cities and Neighbourhoods (University of Glasgow) is researching the distribution of opportunities that help to shape sustainable cities. The research conducted in 14 cities in Asia and Africa has revealed the widespread inequalities which make these cities more vulnerable to risks such as extreme weather events, economic shocks, and infectious diseases. The study also provides insights into new approaches to promote more inclusive and resilient cities in the Global South.
Cities are complex systems encompassing infrastructure, health, and social and economic factors. Plans for infrastructure development are unlikely to strengthen resilience if social and economic inequalities are not addressed at the same time. Cities must adopt a multidimensional approach to resilience which goes beyond the focus on the physical infrastructure by ensuring that opportunities are shared equitably across its neighbourhoods.
Resilience strategies must therefore incorporate the reduction of poverty and inequality in cities. Urban development and climate change adaptation plans should support resilience through more equitable access to health care and education. Livelihood opportunities within or in close proximities to disadvantaged neighbourhoods is also crucial. The concentration of economic activity in and around the city centre encourages high levels of road-based travel increasing congestion and pollution as well transportation costs for the poor. In addition, marginalised communities and neighbourhoods must have an active voice in the design and implementation of resilience policies that will shape urban futures.
South-south collaboration and sharing lessons learned is also an important step towards building more resilient and sustainable cities. Knowledge production is a multi-directional process, which requires the engagement of a wide range of stakeholders. South-south cooperation platforms provide opportunities for city actors to come together and learn from each other.
In line with this the Centre for Sustainable, Healthy and Learning Cities and Neighbourhoods in partnership with the Low and Middle Income Countries Research Network (University of Glasgow) and UN Habitat organised a pre-COP26 panel discussion Building resilience with equity – Perspectives from cities and neighbourhoods in the Global South. The panel brought together researchers, policymakers and neighbourhood residents to explore multidimensional strategies to promote more sustainable and equitable urban development.
- Ya Ping Wang – Director of GCRF Centre for Sustainable, Healthy and Learning Cities and Neighbourhoods, University of Glasgow (UK)
- Gareth Morgan – Director of Resilience, City of Cape Town, Government of South Africa
- Kunal Kumar – Joint Secretary and Mission Director Smart Cities Mission, Ministry of Housing and Poverty Alleviation, Government of India
- Rev. Fr. Norman Jesus – Administrator of Jaime Cardinal Sin Village Housing Project (Philippines)
- Shilpi Roy – Co-Investigator and In-Country Lead for the Centre for Sustainable, Healthy and Learning Cities and Neighbourhoods (SHLC), Associate Professor Khulna University (Bangladesh)
- Sheela Patel – Director of Society for the Promotion of Area Resource Centres (India)
- Remy Sietchiping – Chief Policy, Legislation and Governance Section at UN-Habitat (Kenya)
This event took place on Thursday 28 October 2021.
Part of the COP26 activities at the College of Social Sciences, University of Glasgow