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Global Adaptation Network’s Major Forum contributes to Talanoa Dialogue

Global Adaptation Network’s Major Forum contributes to Talanoa Dialogue

By Global Adaptation Network

Abu Dhabi, UAE –The Global Adaptation Network held its 2nd Forum last March. Convened in UAE, the event brought to light various issues in adaptation and constituted the first event to contribute to the Talanoa Dialogue, an ongoing global discourse on climate change. Since then, the Forum has been feeding into climate policy on a global scale, and last month, the UNFCCC’s Bonn Climate Conference used findings from the event to enrich its own discussions and negotiations.

Honorable Inia Seruiratu, Fijian Minister of Agriculture, Rural and Maritime Development. Read his full speech here

GAN’s Forum was held in collaboration with Zayed University and the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment. Bringing together high-level Ministers and over 120 adaptation experts, the Forum presented cutting-edge solutions for building resilience. It covered a set of salient themes, including state-of-the-art adaptation technologies, procedures for measuring adaptation progress, and methods for spreading knowledge. A recurring cross-cutting theme was the role of the private sector in building resilience.

It was previously decided that GAN’s Forum, with all its outcomes and perspectives, would provide the next chapter of the Talanoa Dialogue. ‘Talanoa’ is a traditional word used across Fiji and the Pacific to signify a discourse of openness, trust and inclusivity. The purpose of the Dialogue is to advance international cooperation on climate change through the sharing of ideas, skills, and storytelling. As such, the Forum was privileged to host, as a keynote speaker, Fiji’s High-Level Climate Champion, the Honorable Minister Inia Seruiratu.

His Excellency Fahad Al Hammadi, UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment

In keeping with the principle of inclusivity, one of the predominant themes of the Forum was how to reach those most vulnerable to climate change impacts. Participants sought to analyse the role of insurance in helping the poor to absorb climate shocks. More specifically, there was keen interest in the possibility of establishing an African learning platform for climate risk insurance.

The question of how to quantify different aspects of adaptation is of increasing importance, and the Forum devoted its efforts to explore these challenges. How do we measure our progress? How do we calculate climate risk? Taking a finance approach, the Global Centre of Excellence on Climate Adaptation pointed to data from the Adaptation Gap report. They urged that, under the most conservative estimates, global investment in adaptation will need to increase by at least 438% by 2050.

“This is what makes Forums such as this so important – bringing together experts… from different sectors and organisations to not only share your knowledge and progress, but to also develop linkages between your sectors.”
– Fiji Minister Inia Seruiratu

Another integral topic of GAN’s Forum was adaptation learning and knowledge-exchanges. Sessions demonstrated how scientific information is communicated between countries in the interests of building resilience, drawing on experiences from Japan, Mongolia and the Philippines. In addition, there was a focus on the role of universities in solving adaptation challenges. Jessica Barlow outlined the efficacious EPIC model, which connects universities and their resources to real-word issues faced by local cities. Jessica Hitt from EcoAdapt presented her ongoing work with the Climate Adaptation Knowledge Exchange (CAKE), currently the world’s largest and most used source of adaptation case studies.

The UNFCCC are among many who are advocating for more progress with engaging the private sector in adaptation. GAN took the opportunity to use this as a cross-cutting theme of the Forum. John Firth, CEO of the adaptation company Acclimatise, gave a persuasive talk on how to involve businesses. Firth explained that the private sector has always excelled in risk management, and adaptation specialists must configure a way to uptake this expertise.

“The climate change community has tended to see adaptation and resilience as a public sector issue… The reality is that the services we consume, and what we need to build resilience, are actually produced by the private sector.”
– John Firth, CEO of Acclimatise

Pertinent to the Forum’s location in Abu Dhabi, the event also took stock of the pioneering adaptation technologies being developed in the Gulf region. Novel projects were displayed by Zayed University, including selective-breeding to produce genetically resilient coral species. The Forum concluded with a visit to Masdar City, a planned project in Abu Dhabi set to house some of the world’s major cleantech organizations, including the International Renewable Energy Agency.


This article was originally published on the Global Adaptation Network website, click here to read it.

Visit the UNFCCC website to learn more about the Talanoa Dialogue.

Cover photo by FritzDaCat/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0): Abu Dhabi Skyline from sea.
New study finds legal sector demand for climate services very likely to increase in near future

New study finds legal sector demand for climate services very likely to increase in near future

By Richard Bater

Law, and therefore legal services, will be indispensable to achieving a just transition to a low-carbon economy, as well as to ensuring that societies are resilient in the face of future climate-related risk. This renders the legal profession an essential actor, be it through crafting clear and robust legislation, ensuring compliance, or upholding constitutional rights.

New research by Acclimatise, that examines the legal sector’s demand for climate services, finds that whilst climate change has ranked very low on the sector’s agenda this has started to change during the last three years. This is partly attributable to new legislation – which increased 20-fold during the 20 years to 2017 to reach 1,200 laws – but is also due to the increasing recognition on the part of lawyers and their clients that climate change means material risk.  In future, individuals and organisations will increasingly solicit advice as to what their legal duties are vis-à-vis climate change in respect of existing (and forthcoming) laws and established legal doctrines, as well as to be shielded from climate-related litigation.

Climate change is cross-cutting and raises implications – to a greater or lesser degree – across the majority of areas of legal practice, from professional negligence, to product defect, to directors’ duties, to climate disclosure, to constitutional rights. Legal risks can arise, for example, where climate change results in organisations breaching existing compliance requirements (e.g. water quality standards).  With the reinterpretation of common law doctrines in light of climate change, failure to become adequately informed about – and manage – climate-related risk could lead directors to be in breach of directors’ duties. As Jason Betts, Partner at Herbert Smith Freehills, has observed, in order to mitigate litigation risk “companies across all sectors must ensure that the impact of climate change events – both those they may contribute to and those that might affect their businesses and profitability – are risk-assessed, costed and, where material, disclosed to the market.”

Emerging disclosure arrangements – such as those promoted by the Taskforce on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) – are putting climate-related risk on the boardroom agenda. By rendering climate risk a material issue that must be dealt with by organisations today, such initiatives help to bring organisational decision making on climate change into line with the timeframes within which action must be taken to limit the magnitude and risks of climate change.

Climate change adaptation, from a legal perspective, requires a highly collaborative approach; the bringing together of a range of legal skills and expertise.

– Mark Baker-Jones

Accurately disclosing climate-related risks – and proving disclosure breaches – is just one area that can require multi-disciplinary expertise, spanning climate and legal services. Indeed, as reflected by Mark Baker-Jones, more broadly “climate change adaptation, from a legal perspective, requires a highly collaborative approach; the bringing together of a range of legal skills and expertise.”  Underdevelopment of tailored climate services partly explains the hesitation of regulators to impose more stringent requirements: if regulatory provisions step too far beyond what is able to be reliably measured in a comparable way, regulators cannot be certain that regulations are being complied with and producing the change intended. Improving the robustness of harmonised and comparable climate risk metrics is essential. As Baker-Jones has also stated, “what is missing is the translation of that [climate] knowledge into practical advice and guidelines that those leading the private sector can understand and apply…Whether it is redefining the point at which liability is incurred or introducing new levels of liability where before there appeared to be none, climate change law is driving a reinterpretation of some fundamental principles of duty and responsibility.”

The study identifies several key ways in which climate services can better address the sector’s needs:

  • Develop the science of climate attribution, impact modelling, and integrated socio-economic climate impact models (including counter-factual scenario modelling);
  • Rigour, resolution, and comparability are the three highest ranking criteria of climate-related information;
  • Increase dialogue between legal services, climate scientists, and climate services;
  • Communicate climate knowledge in ways intelligible to legal audiences, including how findings correspond with legal standards of proof;
  • Develop a quality assurance regime for climate services providers.

Where climate science is evolving rapidly, there needs to be more accessible regularly-updated, spatially-nuanced communication of the state of climate (attribution) science that summarises the ‘consensus’ view to legal and other audiences in mind. A thorough record of this could become a touchstone for what is considered – and what was considered – ‘reasonably foreseeable’ at a given point in time, both guiding decision making in the present and enabling future accountability for harm.

The case study was led by Acclimatise under the MArket Research for a Climate Services Observatory (MARCO) programme. MARCO, a 2-year project coordinated by European Climate-KIC, hopes that research such as this will help to remove the barriers to the growth of the climate services industry across Europe.

Download the full case study “Legal Services” by clicking here.


Please check the MARCO website for the full suite of MARCO case studies.

The MARCO project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Program under Grant Agreement 730272.

Exhibition: A look back at the Adaptation Futures journey

Exhibition: A look back at the Adaptation Futures journey

As part of this year’s Adaptation Futures conference in Cape Town, Acclimatise, together with the Stockholm Environment Institute and the Global Centre for Excellence on Climate Adaptation,  created an exhibition about the evolution of the conference.

The exhibition follows the journey of the conference not just around the globe, but also how its narrative evolved over the years. The conference’s thematic emphasis started with a strong focus on climate science and information on impacts in 2010 and evolved to increasingly highlight adaptation planning and capacity building in 2012. In 2014, development and the concept of vulnerability are front and centre at the same time as the concept of risk starts to emerge. Finally, in 2016, resilience and risk rise to the top of the agenda. It is also the first year with a very strong presence of the private sector.

Two themes that have consistently moved up the agenda since 2010 are risk management and water. For the latter especially, Cape Town sets a somewhat dramatic stage as the city has been dealing with very challenging drought conditions lately.

Have a look at the graphics below to get a sense of what the exhibit looks like, and if you are in Cape Town, make sure you visit in person – the exhibition can be found right outside the Auditorium on Level 1 of the Cape Town International Convention Centre.


Cover photo by Matt Howard on Unsplash.
New study shows billions of urban citizens at risk of climate-related impacts by 2050

New study shows billions of urban citizens at risk of climate-related impacts by 2050

New research by Acclimatise, C40, the Urban Climate Change Research Network (UCCRN), and Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy reveals number of cities and citizens threatened by direct and indirect climate hazards if global greenhouse gas emissions continue unchecked. Bold climate action by cities is key to prevent 1.6 billion people being exposed to extreme heat, 800 million to coastal flooding, and 650 million to droughts. 

Billions of people in thousands of cities around the world will be at risk from climate-related heatwaves, drought, flooding, food shortages, blackouts and social inequality by mid-century without bold and urgent action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Fortunately, cities around the world are delivering bold climate solutions to avert these outcomes and create a healthier, safer, more equal and prosperous future for all urban citizens.

This new research predicts how many urban residents will face potentially devastating heat waves, flooding and droughts by 2050 if global warming continues on its current trajectory. The Future We Don’t Want – How climate change could impact the world’s greatest cities also looks at indirect climate impacts and estimates how climate change under a ‘business-as-usual scenario’ will impact urban food security and energy systems as well as the urban poor, who are most vulnerable to climate change.

Headline findings include that, by 2050

The Future We Don’t Want also contains concrete examples of bold climate solutions that cities are delivering, which, if adopted at-scale, could help prevent the worst impacts of climate change. The research was launched at the Adaptation Futures conference in Cape Town, where representatives of cities around the world are sharing ideas on how to prepare and adapt their cities for the effects of climate change.

“For decades, scientists have been warning of the risks that climate change will pose from increasing global temperatures, rising sea levels, growing inequality and water, food and energy shortages. Now we have the clearest possible evidence of just what these impacts will mean for the citizens of the world’s cities, said Mark Watts, Executive Director C40 Cities. “This is the future that nobody wants. Our research should serve as a wake-up call on just how urgently we need to be delivering bold climate action.”

“For most C40 cities, the impacts of climate change are not a far-off threat. From Cape Town to Houston, Mayors are seeing severe droughts, storms, fires and more,” said Antha Williams, Head of Environmental Programs at Bloomberg Philanthropies and C40 Board Member, “As this report shows, C40 mayors are on the front line of climate change, and the actions they take today–to use less energy in buildings, transition to clean transportation and reduce waste—are necessary to ensure prosperity and safety for their citizens.”

“Climate change is already happening, and the world’s great cities are feeling the impact. Cape Town is facing an unprecedented drought, but thanks to the efforts of our citizens to adapt, we have averted Day Zero, when we would have had to switch off most taps,” said Patricia de Lille, Executive Mayor of Cape Town and Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy Board Member. “The lessons from Cape Town, and from this important new research is that every city must invest today in the infrastructure and policies that will protect citizens from the future effects of our changing global climate.”

City climate solutions featured in the report include:

  • Extreme heat: Seoul has planted 16 million trees and expanded its green space by 3.5 million m2. The city has also set up shaded cooling centres for those unable to access air conditioning.
  • Flooding: New York City is improving coastal flood mapping, strengthening coastal defences and building smaller, strategically placed local storm surge barriers around the city.
  • Drought: São Paulo has set up reward schemes to incentivise citizens to use less water, whilst investing in the city’s pipeline system to reduce water leakage.
  • Urban food security: Paris plans to establish 33 hectares of urban agriculture within the city’s boundaries by 2020. By 2050, 25 percent of the city’s food supply will be produced in the Île-de-France region
  • Energy Supply: London is improving drainage infrastructure to ensure key infrastructure can withstand heavy flooding, whilst also encouraging decentralised energy supply to reduce the risk of blackouts if any one power source is damaged.
  • Extreme heat & poverty: Lima’s Barrio Mío programme created a poverty map of the city helping policy makers to focus resources on the most vulnerable and under-served areas where people are most exposed to heat risks.

Download the full report by clicking here.


Cover photo by Arto Marttinen on Unsplash
Cape Town climate conference kicks off in wake of water crisis

Cape Town climate conference kicks off in wake of water crisis

By Georgina Wade

This week, a major international climate change conference takes place in a city that is dealing with one of the most severe water crises in its history. The Adaptation Futures conference, taking place in Cape Town, South Africa, will host delegates from around the world to discuss how the world can better prepare for climate change and its impacts. The conference has put in place measures to reduce its water demand, but in doing so it has also highlighted the severe inequality in both access to water, and in the ability to adapt to a lack of it.

An El-Niño-triggered drought struck the Western Cape province of South Africa in 2015, resulting in a severe water shortage in the city of Cape Town and the surrounding region. At the start of this year, April 2018 was announced by the government as “day zero” – a moment when dam levels would be so low that they would turn off the taps in the city and send people to communal water collection points. The water shortages are shining a light on South Africa’s already high-income inequality. South Africa has a long history of social inequity, and to this day 10 percent of the population own more than 90% of the country’s wealth.

With the current water consumption limit set at 50 litres per person, surges of spending on personal efforts to counteract the limited water supply are on the rise amongst wealthier residents. One such method is through the installation of a borehole which works by tapping into underwater reservoirs.

Borehole installation in the backyards of the wealthier Cape Town suburbs currently costs anywhere from $6,000 USD, with high demand resulting in a waiting list of requests that can take up to 7 months to fulfil. While borehole use is legal, Level 6b water restrictions currently prohibit the use of borehole water for outdoor purposes and requires that all water use be metered and recorded for availability upon inspection. Additionally, machines that turn moisture into drinking water are costing residents around $2,000 USD per installation. “The lesson here is that you can’t trust the government to provide water for you,” said Gabby De Wet, whose family owns De Wet’s Wellpoints and Boreholes. But where does this leave those that can’t afford to prepare for the worst?

With residents scrambling to find their own private solutions, the availability of options truly boils down to monetary income. And for the poor, it means waiting to see what solutions the government comes up with while contemplating what cuts can be made to weekly food intake in order to buy bottled water.

Although water conservation efforts have pushed back “Day Zero” to 2019, informal settlements on the outskirts of the city are still struggling to obtain clean water to meet their daily needs. For many residents of the city’s low-income townships, water has always been a rare commodity. In Cape Town’s largest township, Khayelitsha, it is estimated that around 1.2 million people live in informal housing, relying on communal toilets and drawing water from communal standpipes.

Wealthier residents still use more water

Some say poorer residents are unfairly blamed for overuse of water resources, as concerns rise over water waste. After exploring the distribution of water usage, the Associated Press found that most of the misuse can be attributed to those of the wealthier class. According to water experts, the Cape Town’s poor townships make up 25 percent of the city’s 4 million people yet only use 4.5 percent of the water.

“It has been in the areas where people have gardens and swimming pools,” Kirsty Carden of Future Water Institute said. “They are much more profligate in the way that they use water, because they’re used to the water just coming out of the taps.”

Cape Town’s economy relies heavily on business and event tourism with the city recently crowned by the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) as the number one city in Africa for business tourism events. Given that tourism supports an estimated 300,000 jobs in South Africa’s Wester Cape province, visitors avoiding Cape Town due to water shortages would have a significant impact on peoples’ livelihoods.

While additional population pressure from tourists may increase water demand slightly, research suggests that international visitors to Cape Town add a maximum of 1% to the local population during the peak summer season. With short-term and relatively moderate water needs compared to other water consumers, the $3.4 billion economic contribution tourism provides to the province holds a significantly positive impact to Cape Town and the thousands of households it supports.

A climate conference in the midst of a climate crisis

Adaptation Futures 2018 aims to facilitate dialogues for solutions between key actors from diverse perspectives and regions on adaptation efforts linked to sustainable development, investment and planning. With a strong focus on Africa and the Global South, the conference aims to use the Cape Town setting to foreground developing country adaptation issues.

Acknowledging the significant ecological and carbon footprints conferences inevitably have, the organisers have outlined and established methods towards reducing impacts in an effort to ‘green the conference’.

“The organisers of Adaptation Futures 2018 are actively planning to reduce or offset the conference footprint as much as possible,” the website states. “Minimising the conference footprint depends on every single participant and we count on everyone to make this conference notably and visibly environmentally friendly in both word and action.”

The conference venue, the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC), has decreased its use of municipal water through rain water harvesting tanks and its own desalination unit, as well as using bottled water for all culinary purposes. Additionally, the CTICC has aligned all its sustainability efforts and commitments with Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) standards.

The CTICC’s 65,000 litres of rain water storage tanks allow for the reuse of water for all cleaning and maintenance activities inside the centre. Furthermore, the implementation of air-cooling systems that create water from air will allow for the storage of water in the available 10,000 litres of grey water storage tanks. With a recorded 42% saving in water consumption for the first quarter of its current financial year compared to the same period last year, the CTICC’s focus remains on reducing water usage wherever possible and ensuring their events run successfully in a responsible manner.

Each delegate will be expected to adhere to the water restriction of 50 litres per person per day and will be provided with a durable water bottle to be refilled at designated water points. For the 200,000 litres of water expected to be used by 1,000 delegates, Adaptation Futures 2018 will compensate by donating rain water harvesting tanks to a local project that will reduce future municipal consumption.

Emphasising that an offset is not a license to use more water, Adaptation Futures is encouraging all of its delegates to adhere to the stipulated level 6b water restrictions. Additionally, the city of Cape Town will be hosting two sessions on urban water scarcity and delegates will be invited to contribute potential adaptation solutions.

Perpetuating inequality?

While some have raised questions about whether Adaptation Futures should have been moved from Cape Town so as to relieve pressure on water resources, others make the point that the event has an opportunity to bring global attention to climate risks. There is no doubt that the conference has been proactive in reducing the impact of its own water use, however has it done enough to reduce the problem of water inequality in the city?

Hotels in the area are now taking steps to decrease reliance on municipal water supply. South Africa’s biggest hotel group, Tsogo Hotel Holdings, is even building a desalination plant that will help supply its Cape Town hotel with their own water, as well as provide alternative water augmentation. The new plant, will use a considerable amount of energy to produce potable water for some of the wealthiest of Cape Town’s visitors. It risks becoming a totem of water inequality in the city.

Although Adaptation Futures claims it will be supporting a worthy project that reduces municipal water consumption and increases off grid water usage, the details of this project have yet to be published and may not be created in the interest of benefiting the poorer neighbourhoods. Rather than focusing minds on delivering enough water to the city’s central business district, Adaptation Futures should use this opportunity to help finance water efficiency and supply projects that benefit some of these more water-vulnerable communities. Water scarcity will be front of mind for many of the delegates to the conference; to provide city-wide solutions to future climate scarcity, the inequality of the residents’ capacity and capability to take adaptation action must also be a primary consideration.


Acclimatise will be presenting a number of sessions at Adaptation Futures 2018. Our team members John Firth, Laura Canevari, and Virginie Fayolle will be at the conference. Find out where you can meet them by clicking here.

Cover photograph by Mike Peel/Wikimedia Commons (CC-BY-SA-4.0): Reservoir in Cape Town, view from Signal Hill, taken on 12 June 2014.
Accelerating sea level rise triggered by Antarctic ice melt raises urgent adaptation concerns

Accelerating sea level rise triggered by Antarctic ice melt raises urgent adaptation concerns

By Elisa Jiménez Alonso

As was reported this week, satellites monitoring Antarctica indicated that roughly 200 billion tonnes of its ice are melting each year. The massive ice loss is accelerating sea level rise by about 0.6 millimetres per year – three times more than measured during the last assessment in 2012.

Overall, since 1992 the continent has lost 3 trillion tonnes of ice, enough to raise global seas by 8 millimetres. The researchers responsible for this new assessment say it is “too warm for Antarctica today. It’s about half a degree Celsius warmer than the continent can withstand and it’s melting about five metres of ice from its base each year, and that’s what’s triggering the sea-level contribution that we’re seeing.”

For low-lying coastal communities and cities, this rapid acceleration of sea level rise is troubling news as it is a harsh reminder of how little time there is to prepare for such a daunting challenge. The impacts of sea level rise are manifold, it can lead to coastal erosion, makes storms more dangerous because storm surges lead to flooding more quickly, king tides can flood communities, and for low lying island states it could even mean the loss of their land.

Meaningful and large-scale climate change mitigation could help avoid worst case scenarios. But, with the uncertainty surrounding such actions and the scale at which we could see it implemented in the next years, building resilience to the impacts of sea level rise will be paramount, or rather is already.


Cover photo by Cassie Matias on Unsplash.
Podcast with Samantha Bray from the Center for Responsible Travel: Tourism in the Caribbean

Podcast with Samantha Bray from the Center for Responsible Travel: Tourism in the Caribbean

By Will Bugler

The relationship between climate change, environmental degradation and tourism is a complicated one. On the one hand, tourism can be an environmental stressor, with tourists flocking to sometimes fragile environments and the sector accounting, by some estimates, for as much as 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions. On the other hand, tourism is often one of the most important economic drivers of climate-vulnerable nations, bringing investment to regions that has helped them to increase their overall climate resilience.

Nowhere are these tensions more apparent than in the Caribbean. With 50 million visitors per year, it is the most tourism-dependent region on earth. At the same time, the island nations that make up the Caribbean archipelago are some of the most climate-vulnerable countries on Earth.

In this episode of the Adaptation Conversation, we speak with Samantha Bray, Managing Director of the Center for Responsible Travel (CREST), which recently published a book series exploring the relationship between coastal and marine tourism and climate change in the Caribbean.


Find the books on the CREST website by clicking here.

Cover photo by Juan Rojas on Unsplash.
Acclimatise at Adaptation Futures 2018

Acclimatise at Adaptation Futures 2018

Adaptation Futures 2018 is just around the corner and some of our Acclimatise colleagues are getting ready to make their way to Cape Town.

Below you can see where to find Acclimatise staff during the conference (click the image to enlarge). Follow us on Twitter to stay up to date on what we’re up to in Cape Town and do get in touch with our colleagues, if you would like to meet them at Adaptation Futures.

You can also download the schedule as PDF by clicking here.


Cover photo by Pexels.
Dominican Republic city braces for 2018 hurricane season

Dominican Republic city braces for 2018 hurricane season

By Georgina Wade

The Dominican Republic’s second largest city is preparing for the upcoming hurricane season with a new evacuation plan following last year’s storms that killed around 90 people.

Santiago de los Caballeros is still struggling with the economic toll from hurricanes Maria and Irma, two category 4 storms that left trails of destruction as they crashed through the Caribbean in September of last year.

The fifth largest metro area in the Caribbean, Santiago de los Caballeros has experienced rapid and disorganized urbanisation and physical expansion leading to an increase in informal settlements  that are poorly or illegally connected to official infrastructure and services.

Amongst rising fears in many island nations that infrastructure and economies could be devastated by even more powerful storms in the future, authorities are taking measures to mitigate the potential damage caused with the unveiling of its 87-page resilience strategy

As a member of the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities initiative, Santiago de los Caballeros has prioritised disaster preparedness, alongside developing infrastructure, improving transport and reducing domestic violence.

However, Maria Isabel Serrano Dina, the Chief Resilience Officer for 100 Resilient Cities, says the city is faced with limited resources that are preventing the full implementation of the plan.

“One of the biggest challenges is money. What can you do with a little budget? You have to be creative,” she said.

Working with businesses to sponsor local parks or to take responsibility for street lights is a cost-effective way of funding schemes and giving private sector companies a vested interest in protecting their areas, she said.

Additionally, public education and outreach programmes can help communities get more involved in resilience efforts.

Major challenges to the city currently include improving the drinking water supply and waste management system.


Cover photo by Greifen/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0): View of Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic.
Rising heat wave risk looms for Pakistan

Rising heat wave risk looms for Pakistan

By Saleem Shaikh

Average temperatures and heatwave frequency will keep rising in Pakistan, say researchers as the country has struggled to come to grips with soaring temperatures in recent weeks.

A team of international researchers, who say their study is the first to show the country’s heat-wave trajectory forecasts a 75 per cent increase in heat waves by 2030, a 189 per cent by 2060 and a 277 per cent increase by 2090. “This means the country will experience around 12 heat wave events annually by 2030, 20 such events by 2060 and 26 events by 2090,” says Wajid Nasim, lead author and associate professor at the department of environmental sciences, COMSATS Institute of Information Technology.

“Extreme weather events will become more frequent, prolonged and intense” –Wajid Nasim

The study, published this month (June) in Atmospheric Research, shows that Pakistan was hit by 126 heat waves of varying durations over the 1997‒2015 period for an average of seven heat waves per year. This year, at least 65 people have died in the capital Karachi, and temperatures in parts of the country have exceeded 40 degrees Celsius for weeks, reaching a record-breaking 50.2 degrees in April.

These extreme events will become more frequent, prolonged and intense, Wajid tells SciDev.Net.

He and his team relied on historical datasets of heat wave events and daily maximum temperature variations for the study period. The data was drawn from the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) through 29 weather stations in the provinces of Punjab, Sindh and Baluchistan.

Heat waves are defined as spikes in temperature beyond 45 degrees Celsius in the plains, and beyond 40 degrees Celsius in hilly areas. Average maximum temperatures of 42 degrees Celsius, with a 5‒6 degree rise lasting eight days or more, are also classed as heat waves.

The researchers warn that the trend carries risks for crop yields as well as human health. Heat waves raise the irrigation needs of summer crops, increase droughts and contribute to groundwater depletion in the country.

Rising average temperatures during pre-monsoon months (March, April and May), during which most of the heat waves are expected to occur in the coming decades, could lead to early maturity of winter crops including wheat, maize, potato and lentils — and a consequent decline in crop yields.

Higher temperatures during these months will also increase irrigation needs for various summer crops including rice, cotton, sugarcane and mango. A rapid decline in soil moisture and higher levels of surface water evaporation are contributing factors.

Ghulam Rasul, director-general of the PMD, says the findings demand an adaptation response from the government with a focus on early-warning systems.

Rasul observes that March and April used to be cool to mild months, which helped the soil to retain moisture.

“It is startling to observe March becoming warmer every year. The high temperatures we used to record in the peak summer months (June and July) about eight years ago are now being recorded in March,” he tells SciDev.Net.

In June 2015, more than 1,200 people died of heat-related illnesses in the southern port city of Karachi when temperatures soared to 49 degrees Celsius. In May 2010, the city of Mohenjo Daro, also in southern Pakistan recorded 53.5 degrees Celsius, the highest ever recorded in Asia.

Nasim says various adaptation measures, such as building the capacity of individuals and communities to respond to heat stress during heat waves, and campaigns to raise heat-health awareness, are imperative.


This piece was produced by SciDev.Net’s Asia & Pacific desk. This article was originally published on SciDev.Net. Read the original article.

Cover photo by Kamran Ali/Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0): Vegetable and Fruit Market of Layyah at twilight. 2007.