December 2016: Building Foundations for Climate Resilience

Much has already been written about ongoing migration from the world's rural environs into its cities large and small by people in search of higher incomes and better lives. Canadian author and journalist Doug Saunders's Arrival City is among the best in-depth expositions of this trend, which can also be understood quickly through the adjacent figure.

Almost nowhere in the world is such rural to urban migration more significant than in the world's least developed countries (LDCs), those nations with a per capita gross national income (GNI) of less than USD 1,045 (2013 figures). Many of these LDCs are also among the most vulnerable to the impacts of a changing climate as demonstrated by Standard and Poors in 2014.

In this context, cities and towns at the nexus of both trends, such as those along the coastal areas of Mozambique in south-eastern Africa, find themselves in the middle of a brewing storm. Already lacking the financial resources needed to appropriately manage existing urban populations, such cities and towns face the dual challenge of extending already stretched urban services to new arrivals while also investing in new or improved infrastructure required for them to cope with the impacts of a changing climate. The demands placed on municipalities to fund and provide social and physical infrastructure are now compounded by the need to address climate-driven issues, from increased coastal flooding and erosion, to more frequent power outages and weakened energy grids, to decreased access to water for irrigation and drinking due to more persistent droughts.

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