Addressing the most vulnerable first – pro-poor climate action in informal settlements

Urban planning Climate change adaptation Climate risk Climate financing Sustainable building design and construction Slum housing
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Urbanization is one of the global megatrends of our time, unstoppable and irreversible. In 30 years, two-thirds of the world’s population will live in urban areas; 90 per cent of this urban growth will take place in less developed regions such as East Asia, South Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa. These are regions where capacity and resources are already constrained, and development challenges are ever more complex and concentrated. Urbanization in such areas is largely unplanned, fuelling the continuous growth of informal settlements, the physical manifestation of urban poverty and inequality. Currently home to some 1 billion people, informal settlements are where the impact of climate change is most acute and where resilience must be strengthened.

Based on UN-Habitat’s experience in climate action in informal settlements, the authors propose nine key tenets that should be applied in considering and implementing climate change measures in informal settlements. These over-arching principles can be contextualized to different cities and neighborhoods, and can be the starting point for inclusive action, alongside the more board informal settlement improvement principles.

  • Address development deficits with climate action mind and vice versa; 
  • Downscale vulnerability assessments and responses to city and neighborhood level;
  • Incorporate local knowledge in climate change responses;
  • Strengthen education and training;
  • Build capacity at the neighborhood level;
  • Apply a balanced mix of adaptation options;
  • Scale up action through co-production and collaboration between actors;
  • Recognize the opportunities by integrating informality into adaptation and mitigation; 
  • Use recovery processes as an opportunity for low carbon and resilient development.
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