Cities Challenged to be Resilient, Sustainable, Solar-Friendly

solsmartThe world’s cities are the areas that will be most affected by climate change and are uniquely positioned to address this change, according to a plenary speaker at the annual forum on Urban Resilience and Adaptation.  The Reuters News Service quoted Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as saying “as each country looks to meet their emissions reduction, energy efficiency or renewable energy goals, they will look to cities as places where transformational change can make the most difference.”

The forum, hosted by ICLEI, a global network of cities, towns and regions, was attended by several hundred representatives of local governments from across the globe.

Secretary Espinosa explained, “the risk to cities from climate impacts carries great social and economic cost, and of course, the loss of human lives. The ability of communities to meet their most basic needs – food, water, energy, sanitation – is threatened by climate change.” At the same time, cities will be the source of the most impactful changes. “Climate action in cities is the key that unlocks a low emissions and resilient future,” she said.

One of the ways in which U.S. cities are fostering resiliency is by increasing the use of solar and wind energy, both as part of their own portfolios and in their communities. In support of this trend, NCL is proud to be a partnering with the International City/County Management Association and others on the SolSmart initiative, which recognizes cities and counties that are making it easy and cost-effective for residents to “go solar.” To date, nearly 60 cities have been recognized through Solsmart for their efforts to facilitate the use of solar energy, and many more are in the process of reaching this designation.

But, resilience and adaptation include considerations beyond climate change. The forum on Urban Resilience and Adaptation also brought together experts to discuss the impact of social equity and inclusion on the future of cities. David Simon, Director of Sweden-based Mistra Urban Futures, cited the Habitat III New Urban Agenda in calling for efforts “that empower and include urban stakeholders, as well as appropriate checks and balances, providing predictability and coherence in the urban development plans to enable social inclusion, sustained, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth and environmental protection.”

NCL mirrors this multi-sector, multi-issue approach to resiliency in our work.  Beyond our work on energy sustainability, NCL is partnering with the Government Finance Officers Association to develop new tools and resources related to fiscal sustainability for cities.  NCL is also deeply invested in work that creates opportunities for “social inclusion” through our racial equity work as part of the Truth, Racial Health and Transformation initiative spearheaded by the WK Kellogg Foundation.

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