A preparatory webinar for the 16th Global Forum on Human Settlements was held on January 15, 2021. Its theme was “International Green Model City Initiative: Call for Stronger Actions Towards Healthy, Resilient, and Carbon-Neutral Cities.”
Approximately 30,000 professionals around the world participated, including WMO Deputy Secretary-General Elena Manaenkova. The meeting was opened by Lu Haifeng, Secretary General of Global Forum on Human Settlements.
In the five years since the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, an increasing number of countries, regions and cities have made commitments to achieve carbon neutrality. The success of this depends on progress towards this goal in cities, which are sources for an estimated 70 percent of carbon dioxide emissions.
Integrated weather, hydrology, climate and environmental urban services are essential for resilient, low-emission and sustainable cities, Dr Manaenkova told the webinar.
WMO’s Integrated Global Greenhouse Gas Information System seeks to provide information on emission sources and sinks to help cities develop effective targeted emission reduction strategies.
In addition to being the prime sources of greenhouse gas emissions, cities are also vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, which is increasing the risk of weather, water and climate-related hazards. These include heat stress, extreme precipitation, inland and coastal flooding, landslides, air pollution, drought, and water scarcity, which pose risks in urban areas for people, assets, economies, and ecosystems.
In densely populated areas, a single extreme event can create a cascading downstream, “domino effect”, leading to a widespread breakdown of a city’s infrastructure. WMO is therefore promoting multi-hazard early warning systems to help save lives and livelihoods.
These are highly recommended as single cost-effective systems to deliver warnings on a wide range of hazards (storms, heatwaves, floods, coastal inundation, air pollution, etc.), said Dr Manaenkova.
To build truly resilient cities, urban planners need to look beyond the next storm and use climate predictions and projections to plan and prepare for long-term changes in weather, climate, hydrology and environment. A demand-driven approach (understanding diverse urban users’ needs) and multi-sector partnerships help produce and deliver tailored services and impact-based warnings, she said.
As a low-carbon green city global action plan, International Green Model City (IGMC) Initiative provides technical tools and action guidelines for sustainable urban planning, and zero-waste and zero-emission green development. 41 well-known municipal governments and companies have joined the IGMC Initiative, creating an effective network for sharing knowledge and experience, and facilitating mutual cooperation.