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The State of Asian Cities 2010/11

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Abstract

Half the world’s urban population lives in the Asia-Pacific region, whose economy is the most dynamic in the world, accounting for 30 per cent of global output. This reflects the region’s remarkable integration into the world economy, largely based on export-led growth policies. Regardless of average income, cities and towns have been acting as the engines of economic growth in the region, which now hosts half of the world’s mega-cities. New configurations like mega urban regions, urban corridors and city-regions testify to the close links between urban prosperity and new patterns of spatio-economic activity. Productivity and creativity now enable some Asian-Pacific cities to diversify away from manufacturing and move into the global ‘knowledge economy’. These remarkable achievements have enabled Asia-Pacific to take the lead in socio-economic progress, too, with significant reductions in extreme poverty as well as improved conditions for slum-dwellers, an area where some countries have already reached the Millennium Development Goals. Still, much remains to be done to reduce poverty in cities, where inequality is on the rise. It is incumbent on national and local government to deploy the strategies that will ensure a fairer distribution of the benefits of urban prosperity. Another, daunting challenge is now facing Asian-Pacific cities. In their pursuit of economic growth, they have not paid sufficient attention to urban environment and climate change issues. Demographic pressure weighs on natural resources. No other region in the world is more exposed to all sorts of natural disasters. Asia-Pacific owes most of its prosperity to coastal cities, which are vulnerable to sea-level rises. Now the imminent effects of climate change are compounding the problem, which calls for local mitigation and adaptation strategies. Some countries in the region have begun to understand the need for inclusive and sustainable urban development. This can only be achieved through broad-ranging policies and huge financial resources which require comprehensive institutional reform, including decentralisation and participatory approaches. This report highlights the major role which well-devised partnerships between national governments, urban authorities, business and civil society can engage in to meet the current and prospective challenges to Asian-Pacific prosperity.
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Technical Report
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More than half the world’s population lives in urban areas and urbanisation trends are growing, with Asian cities at the heart of urban growth. Cities play an important role in the climate change arena, both as significant contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, and also centres of innovative activity for reducing emissions. However, cities are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. An understanding of their vulnerabilities, and how to reduce these vulnerabilities is imperative. This paper explores the sources of greenhouse emissions in Asian cities and the particular vulnerabilities of Asian cities to the impacts of climate change. Through a review of policies and field-based studies undertaken in two Asian megacities, Jakarta (Indonesia) and Mumbai (India), local community vulnerabilities are explored and innovative adaptive measures identified. The predominant climate related focus for communities researched in both cities was flood mitigation, where community adaptation included such things as raising the floor level of houses, storing clothing in plastic bags on high shelves, and collective community cleaning of rubbish from canals before the monsoon season arrived. However, many of these residents were placed at greater risk of future climate change, due to such things as lack of properly executed and enforced urban planning, poor provision and maintenance of basic services such as water supply, sanitation and waste collection, and poor disaster risk reduction planning. City governments have a role to play in reducing both greenhouse emissions, and vulnerability to climate change impacts, through activating “levers”, such as planning, regulation, purchasing power, network facilitation, education and their civic leadership role. Key words: cities, urban, climate adaptation, climate mitigation
Conference Paper
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