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Copenhagen, 15 Dec 09
Cities are one of the battle fronts where the war against the effects of climate change must be fought and won, a discussion forum bringing together several UN agencies said Monday.

The biggest population growth in the world was taking place in cities and planners must design policies that will mitigate against the effects of such rapid growth, the meeting held on the sidelines of the COP 15 heard.

“One thing we must always be aware of is that the least able are the most exposed to the ravages of climate change. With some one billion people already in slums and inadequate housing conditions we must carefully take into consideration their interests, “ UN-HABITAT Executive Director Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka said.

According to Mrs. Tibaijuka, climate change also had a gender dimension which was yet to be fully explored. “Women and children are the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change we must prioritise how to help them,” she said.

One of the best ways of preparing to deal with the effect of climate change was sustainable urbanization, she stressed. According to the Executive Director, chaotic urbanization was the bane of many countries especially in the developing world. She gave the example of Africa where she said about 60 percent of urban residents were living in coastal cities hence highly vulnerable to climate change like rise in sea levels.

Other issues that needed to be addressed, Mrs. Tibaijuka said, included governance of cities and the problem of inequality.

In his address, Mr. Jose Miguel Guzman of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) said that with projections showing that urban areas will lead in population growth, these areas must be given top priority in planning.

“We need to plan for the future. We need to plan for services because how we deal with with today’s demands will determine what happens in the future,” he said.
On her part Ms. Sylvie Lemmet of UNEP said that accounting for 30 percent of gases emissions, buildings were the best first stop in checking the effects of climate change. “The emission reduction potential in buildings is enormous,” she said.

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