SECOND TECHNICAL MEETING ON CROSS-CUTTING ISSUES IN URBAN ENVIRONMENT
By Steffen Dehn
The second day of the technical expert meeting on mitigation kicked off with the thematic event: City level collaboration to achieve emission reductions and sustainable development – Mobilizing actors and resources for accelerated implementation of scalable, replicable and transformational actions in urban environments. This event presented examples of cities from developed and developing countries on means to mobilize stakeholders to provide urban services with mitigation and sustainable development benefits. Some highlights of the event are illustrated in this article.
First, a representative from the city of Bogota, Columbia shared the challenges they are currently facing in regard to city planning. While there has been an effort to guide the development of settlements in and around Bogota, the local government is trying to cope with an increasing number of people moving to the city. This number is expected to rise from 9.3 million people today to 12.4 million people by 2050. While they tried to guide the development in the region towards high density settlements in safe and well connected areas, the reality looks somewhat different. Low density settlements emerge and informal occupation happens in the region. This often happens in high risk areas that are for example prone to landslides. With an ever increasing likelihood of extreme weather events induced by climate change, these settlements face severe problems when these events hit. The representative emphasized that with such settlements, apart from other challenges, effective transportation becomes a problem. Many people from these areas commute to the city each day – most of them using their own means of transportation as the public transportation network can´t keep up with the speed these settlements emerge. This does not only lead to traffic jams but also contributes to fine dust pollution and increased emissions. City planning is trying to keep up with these developments and they hope to provide additional 2.7 million houses by 2050.
After Bogota, a representative from the city of Bonn, Germany presented Bonns approach to mitigation. Bonn installed solar panels on all municipal buildings and is using green energy for all the city administrations activities. The whole city of Bonn has a 65% share of renewable energies in their energy mix for the general public. It was emphasized, that Bonn is trying to get its inhabitants involved in green energy, too. They have a solar roof registry where house owners can look up how suitable their houses would be for solar power. The representative highlighted that 70% of Bonns energy needs could be covered by solar energy.
Other than that, Bonn is trying to raise awareness about environmental topics and climate change through educational programs. A particular successful program dealing with the education of children was presented. Children are encouraged to participate in activities and workshops dealing with the mentioned topics. During the process, they get a better understanding how the world around them works and how small actions of the individual can have a significant impact. Upon completing the program children receive a so called “climate license” from the mayor of Bonn. Educating and sensitize children from an early age on is a very good way to make them and their parents understand the impacts and influence climate change can have on their future.
At the end of the session, the moderator, Mr. Donald Cooper from the UNFCCC underlined that in regard to mitigation efforts, there is not one way to do it but there are 100.000 of ways to do it. This statement is certainly true and the workshop offered a great opportunity to see how different regions in the world try their best to tackle climate change in their given environment. These examples showcased, that nowadays taking action is no question of whether action can be taken but rather what action one wants to take and adapt them to local circumstances.