Following on from the first part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report, Working Group II’s contribution, issued on February 28, 2022, draws on 34,000 research and 270 authors from 67 nations. It offers one of the most in-depth analyses of the escalating effects of climate change and future hazards, particularly for resource-poor countries and marginalized groups. The IPCC report for 2022 also specifies a chapter “Cities, Settlements and Key Infrastructure” that assesses climate change impacts and risks to cities, human settlements and key infrastructure as well as enabling conditions and options for adaptation. To elaborate more on the concerned discussion, #IMPRI Centre for Habitat, Urban and Regional Studies (CHURS), IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute in New Delhi organized a #WebPolicyTalk on the topic IPCC Sixth Assessment Report: Implications for Urbanisation as part of the series “The State of Cities – #Local Governance” on March 9, 2022.
The discussion had an esteemed panel of eminent professors and scholars consisting of Dr D. Raghunandan from the Delhi Science Forum and All India Peoples Science Network and Prof Anil K. Gupta, Professor of Policy-Planning & Strategies, DRR & Sustainability, Head of the Division, Coordinator – International Cooperation, Advisory Services, Programme Director – Centre for Excellence on Climate Resilience, National Institute of Disaster Management (Ministry of Home Affairs, Govt. of India). The discussion was moderated by Mr Tikender Singh Panwar, former Deputy Mayor of Shimla and Visiting Senior Fellow at IMPRI in New Delhi and Dr Simi Mehta, CEO and Editorial Director at IMPRI.
Our moderator, Tikender Singh, opened up the conversation by inviting all of the panellists and offering a quick introduction to the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report, with a focus on the chapter – Cities, Settlements, and Key Infrastructure. He highlighted the various topics to be discussed in the discussion, such as vulnerable coastal and hilly cities, the Hindu Kush Range of mountains, the systemic changes required for a sustainable form of development and various other forces such as sustainability, inequity, approach to city-making and so on.
Holistic Approach and Urbanisation
Dr D Raghunandan gave a brief presentation on the issue to share his thoughts, including the approach used by Working Group II to produce the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report. The IPCC AR6/WG2 (Sixth Assessment Report/ Working Group II) uses a multi-dimensional and multidisciplinary Risk-Solution framework to address risks in physical science, mitigation, ecosystems and societal effects and to provide solutions for adaptation/resilience, development routes and transformations. The magnitude of impacts and risks observed demonstrates the high scale of responses required for climate resilience; the impact of climate change will cascade through the ecosystem and economy; solutions must be compatible with sustainable development, social and climate justice, and should have co-benefits across multiple sectors.
Dr Raghunandan discussed the primary dangers to India’s urbanisation and climate change, such as accelerated and unplanned urbanisation, the growth of sensitive peri-urban regions, water-scarce cities and development around them. The risks are bigger in infrastructure sectors such as housing and habitat, road construction, public health and basic utilities, and so on. Improved resistance to climate change reduces costs, improves Quality Of Life (QOL) and aids in the reduction of inequality and vulnerability. He also discussed Urban Heat Islands (UHIs), air pollution, and sea-level rise – the concerns and solutions that are some of the main aspects of climate change – and he concluded his presentation with recommendations to reduce the effects of climate change on cities and towards sustainable development.
Challenges and Practicality of Reforms
Prof. Anil K. Gupta voiced his concern about natural vegetation, which is shrinking by the day owing to the growth of megacities and metro cities. Nobody discusses the changes that are occurring in tier three and four cities, which are a key contributor to urban challenges not only in India but throughout South Asia. He also discussed how to implement real-world reforms based on the findings of this AR6/WG2 IPCC report by 2022. This research brought to light new dimensions of climate change, such as the interaction between the ecological and the social dimension. When humans are under strain, whether for survival or economic reasons, they put pressure on nature.
When nature, on the other hand, is put under pressure by humans, it responds by wreaking havoc in the shape of disasters, climate change, and so on. He added to the conversation that instead of duplicating and replicating techniques to deal with climate change, we need to discover unique solutions and contextualise approaches to dealing with climate concerns. Prof Anil highlighted some of the difficulties and challenges of green construction standards for cities, UHIs, solid waste management, urban water management, and growing land use of urban agriculture. He completed his discourse by proposing an Integrated Planning Framework for city planning and the future of city planning.
Wrapping it up
Dr Simi Mehta, the co-moderator, continued the debate by sharing her thoughts on the IPCC AR6/WG2 Report and making some general remarks based on Dr Raghunandan and Prof Anil’s presentations. According to her, this research should act as a wake-up call to local governments and lawmakers in order to safeguard the social order. Following an informative and constructive discussion, Tikender Singh opened the floor to questions. Panellists presented some interesting perspectives, insights and opinions on a variety of topics, as well as expressed some significant concerns. As the panel discussion came to a close, Dr Simi Mehta asked the panellists to share their final remarks. Dr Raghunandan and Prof Anil Gupta offered final remarks, thanking IMPRI for organizing the debate.
Acknowledgement: Utkash Dwivedi, research intern at IMPRI