Foundations for climate resilient and sustainable growing settlements (U-RES)

URES project was for the duration of 2017

Urban populations are particularly vulnerable to extreme weather events related to climate change, especially heat waves and floods. This vulnerability is derived from a combination of factors including existing inequalities, high population density with poor service provision, and a natural environment that has been transformed, often completely replaced by concrete surfaces and buildings, exacerbating risk and increasing exposure to certain types of environmental hazards. Existing inequalities are expressed through education, wealth as well as gender, age, class and other social differences, leading to marginalised groups that are particularly vulnerable to climatic extremes. As cities emerge from smaller settlements and nearby adjacent cities, little design goes into ensuring that they are established in appropriate locations, that new infrastructure is adequately resilient to current and future weather extremes, and that governance and growth take into account the specific needs of marginalised groups. Instead, urban development often appears chaotic and unplanned, locking citizens, particularly those who are most marginalised, into high states of vulnerability.

The Global Change Research Fund (GCRF) Resilience Foundation Awards has provided seed funding for the U-Res project which has the primary aim of establishing a community of trans-disciplinary researchers working together to support the transition from rapidly urbanising, unsustainable settlements to resilient and sustainable cities in the face of climate change. The U-RES project explored the foundations of how and where new cities emerge, and what are the opportunities for influencing their design while they expand to be resilient to extreme weather in a changing climate. The research team comprised of both academics and practitioners. Part of the work was done in collaboration with communities in Isiolo County and Isiolo town in Kenya and Quarry Road West informal settlement in Durban, South Africa to explore resilience and sustainability at the settlement scale using data and knowledge produced at a global, regional and local scale.

This working paper summarises the strands explored in this interdisciplinary project. It includes: I) Lessons from the archaeological past, II) Key principles of low carbon and climate resilient urbanization, III) III. Resilience, governance, and data integration at the settlement scale, with an appendix on the climate change risks for the study sites.

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