Cities…they`re kind of a big deal

Written by: Lena Phillips

Climate change discussion at the international level needs to cover a lot, and there are many approaches taken many of which are quite credible. One area that I think is important to amplify is that of creating sustainable cities. We need to develop cities and rural communities equipped with the tools to both adapt to and mitigate the effects and causes of climate change.

Notably, it is at the city level where a vast majority of the services required to aid that process exist. Transportation, health care, and housing are just a sampling of the responsibilities that cities have both directly and indirectly in people’s ´lives. By making these services accessible, affordable and more efficient cities will automatically become safer and healthier places to live thus fostering an environment equipped to deal with climate change. Easier said than done.

In countries like Canada, for example, cities are assigned many of these vital roles but lack the support to maintain them successfully. Cities in Canada depend on higher levels of government for much of their funding so it becomes a struggle among municipalities about who gets funding and for what. This problem is further exacerbated in much of the developing world where cities are overwhelmingly burdened by the reality of poverty. Despite efforts to invest (both socially and financially) in these services, developing country cities simply lack the capacity.

Currently, most of the world´s population lives in urban centres. This number is only expected to rise and the trend is supposed to be felt drastically in the developing world. As important as international negotiations and international agreements are going to be in reducing emissions, effective implementation towards achieving these goals are dependent on the role of cities and the acknowledgement of their necessary inclusion in the process.

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