Mercy Corps shares urban planning strategies at London climate change conference

Mercy Corps shares urban planning strategies at London climate change conference

Massive flooding in Indonesia is more commonplace due to climate change, impacting poor, urban residents. Photo: David Evans/Mercy Corps.
Massive flooding in Indonesia is more commonplace due to climate change, impacting poor, urban residents. Photo: David Evans/Mercy Corps.

This is a guest post by Jim Jarvie, Director of Climate Change, Environment and Natural Resources at Mercy Corps.

Millions of urban citizens around the world are increasingly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, but few governments are equipped to face these challenges. This week, London is hosting the Planet Under Pressure conference, a gathering designed to discuss solutions to the global climate challenge.

Over four days, senior policymakers, industry leaders, NGOs, scientists, health specialists and other experts will focus on how to move societies toward sustainable practices. Ratri Sutarto, from Mercy Corps’ Indonesia team, will be sharing our organization’s experience integrating urban climate resilience strategies into city planning and governance in Indonesia as part of the Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network (ACCRN), funded by the Rockefeller Foundation.

Mercy Corps has worked with the government of Semarang, Indonesia, a city of 1.5 million people on the northern coast of Java, to develop a “climate resilience strategy,” which recognizes that climate change is exacerbating the region’s current hazards from flood, drought and landslides.

The plan prioritizes actions that address these threats so they can be easily integrated into city planning processes and budget cycles. At the London conference, Ratri will discuss the background of this integrated approach and share how it succeeded in making climate change a crucial consideration in the city's future plans. The key elements of this kind of resilience planning are similar to sister programs in another eight ACCRN cities.

The dynamic and innovative urban programming in Semarang is built on local, national and international partnerships. It addresses, in part, a massive development gap that must urgently be filled: reducing the impact of climate change that is already resulting in increased storms, more frequent drought and flood cycles, stronger disease carriers, and growing food insecurity. Many governments recognize this and are requesting technical and financial assistance from the international community.

With its partners, Mercy Corps is filling a critical need in Indonesia, and the cutting-edge model has fantastic potential to be replicated around the world for the benefit of the urban poor.

Leading up to the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in June, Mercy Corps will continue to explore this topic and we welcome your feedback on the knowledge and experience we’ve built with our partners and colleagues.

Editor’s note: Access Mercy Corps’ working paper, “Integrating Climate Resilience Strategy into City Planning in Semarang, Indonesia,” (PDF) for details about the project.

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