#ResilientCities Asia-Pacific Day 2: Toward pro-poor urban climate resilience

What makes good urban resilience? “Good urban resilience is pro-poor,” says Donovan Storey, Chief of the Sustainable Urban Development Section, Environment and Development Division, UNESCAP, “one that integrates climate change intervention and poverty reduction.”

In a session on the second day of Resilient Cities Asia-Pacific: 1st Asia-Pacific Forum on Urban Resilience and Adaptation, entitled “Toward pro-poor urban climate resilience in Asia and the Pacific,” Mr. Storey discussed the ‘Quick Guide for Policymakers’ recently published by UNESCAP, in partnership with UN HABITAT and with support from the Rockefeller Foundation. The 60-page publication aims to show that pro-poor approaches to urban climate resilience, that are holistic, flexible, and participatory, are also an effective way to foster inclusive and sustainable development.

“We argue that there is a significant overlap between vulnerability and urban poverty, and that there is no tradeoff between climate resilience and poverty reduction,” said Mr. Storey. “Addressing both poverty and vulnerability in a sustainable way – this is the essence of resilient cities.”

Such an objective requires deliberate and well-designed action, for, as noted Ms. Anna Brown, Senior Associate Director for Asia of the Rockefeller Foundation, resilience-building is ‘not inherently pro-poor’. “Resilience strategies must be built on a strong understanding of urban poor populations – advancing actions at scale that directly benefit poor people, while remaining grounded in a city-wide process,” she said.

For her part, Ms. Laids Cea, Regional Coordinator of the Cities and Climate Change Initiative of UN HABITAT, shared her organization’s experiences in working among the urban poor. “Always, the intent is there to make resilience-building measures pro-poor,” she said. However, several constraints are likewise always present, including knowledge and capacity gaps, human and financial resources, and others. Among lessons learned from the field, she noted that improved policies on land-use and urban management shall have a decisive impact on resilience-building, for which city governments are the key drivers.

“Political will is key,” she said.

The session concluded with a panel discussion among local officials, including Santa Rosa City Mayor Arlene Arcillas and Naga City Vice Mayor Nelson Legacion (Philippines), and Matale Mayor Mohamed Hilmy (Sri Lanka), which touched upon a range of governance issues such as people participation and policy continuity.

The Pro-Poor Urban Climate Resilience in Asia and the Pacific: Quick Guide to Policymakers may be downloaded at http://www.unescap.org/resources/quick-guide-policy-makers-pro-poor-urban-climate-resilience-asia-and-pacific-0.