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Green urban planning

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A recent World Bank report urged cities to adopt green urban planning strategies, including investing in sustainable infrastructure to boost resilience to the impact of climate change.

The report titled “Thriving: Making Cities Green, Resilient, and Inclusive in a Changing Climate” provided recommendations on policy options that policymakers in cities can take to reduce emissions, enhance resilience to climate shocks, and become more inclusive to prevent the poorest from feeling the climate impacts.

“Cities are at the foremost of the climate fight. By 2050, an estimated 70 percent of all people will live in cities. This means todays investments in making cities resilient and inclusive will determine whether most people will be able to access basic services, find jobs, and live with dignity,” Axel van Trotsenburg, senior managing director, development policy and partnerships at WB said.

The WB said cities are becoming more exposed to frequent extreme weather events due to climate change. Those in low and lower-middle income countries, in particular, face the highest exposure to projected climate change-related hazards, and the projected exposure for 2030 to 2040 based on a composite index that combines projections for key hazards, such as floods, heat stress, tropical cyclones, sea level rise, water stress, and wildfire, is higher than for cities in higher income countries.

It said among the policy options for cities is to make investments in green and resilient infrastructure.

Despite the investment in infrastructure across low and middle income countries at 3.4 to 5 percent of their gross domestic product, the World Bank said infrastructure often cannot meet the needs of the growing and urbanizing populations of those countries.

“Important prevention measures such as flood control systems, shelters, and protection of environmental buffers can be embedded in infrastructure investments,” it added.

Additionally, when it comes to investing in infrastructure, the WB said maintenance should also be covered, along with information to help people and firms better consider the environmental impacts of their actions, and incentives and penalties in the form of taxes, charges, subsidies, and tradeable permits.

Importantly, integration within and between cities could lower greenhouse gas emissions and bring people closer to jobs and opportunities.

While it would be nice for our towns and cities, green urban planning may take some time before it becomes a thing in the Philippines, where well planned infrastructure that creatively consolidates different prevention measures are rarely found, as the continuous cycle of pouring concrete only to be destroyed, is already considered an achievement by most public officials.

However, it would be nice if those officials occasionally listened to the advice of organizations like the World Bank so we can also get a head start.*

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