The impacts of climate change worsen daily and are putting pressure on governments to safeguard their citizens and increase global ambition for taking urgent action to address this huge issue. One of the most significant challenges in this context is to build climate resilience for the close to one billion urban poor residing in informal settlements and slums. Despite broad efforts, a large part of the urban reality is still defined by informality, which drives urbanization in many parts of the world. As outlined in the 5th Assessment Report by the IPCC, informal settlements are disproportionally vulnerable to climatic impact due to the socioeconomic characteristics of the residents and the absence of risk-reducing urban infrastructures.
Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are particularly affected due to existing high vulnerability to climate change, natural disasters, and heavy dependency on a single economic sector, such as tourism, that is hit hard by COVID -19. The current pandemic further compounds layers of risks of natural disasters, social exclusion, gender disparity and youth unemployment, to name but a few.
Economic recovery from the impacts of COVID-19 must overcome existing inequalities and challenge the status quo, supporting a pro-poor transition to a more low-carbon, resilient and sustainable urban development. This requires a holistic and integrated approach to the crises, starting where it matters most. Hence, UN-Habitat’s initiative aspires to join forces with other development partners to work towards urban equality and climate change adaptation and safeguard the most vulnerable population groups as countries shift towards long-term recovery and economic rebuilding.