Thursday, October 23, 2008

UN report: Few coastal cities to be spared by climate change

Xinhua: A UN report launched here on Thursday says few of the world's coastal cities will be spared by climate change. In the 20th century, sea levels rose by an estimated 17 centimeters, and global mean projections for sea level rise between 1990 and 2080 range from 22 centimeters to 34 centimeters. The low elevation coastal zone -- the continuous area along coastlines that is less than 10 meters above sea level -- represents 2 percent of the world's land area but contains 10 percent of its total population and 13 percent of its urban population, says the report "State of the World's Cities 2008/9: Harmonious Cities" launched by the United Nations Human Settlements Program (UN-HABITAT) after analyzing urban inequalities in 28 developing countries.

But at a time when over 50 percent of the world's population lives in urban areas, the report sets out to determine which cities are in danger and which communities might well be drowned out.

There are 3,351 cities in the low elevation coastal zones around the world. Of these cities, 64 percent are in developing regions; Asia alone accounts for more than half of the most vulnerable cities, followed by Latin America and the Caribbean (27percent) and Africa (15 percent). Two-thirds of these cities are in Europe; almost one-fifth of all cities in North America are in low elevation coastal zones, according to the report which UN-HABITAT publishes every two years.

Aimed at policy makers and planners, the new UN report warns that few coastal cities will be spared.

….In her foreword to the report, Anna Tibaijuka, Executive Director of UNHABITAT, calls on cities and national governments to address these challenges and opportunities by adopting innovative approaches to urban planning and management that are inclusive, pro-poor and responsive to threats posed by environmental degradation and global warming….

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