Cities as agents of change

By Naki B. Mendoza 10 December 2015

Chris Perine, urban planning specialist at Chemonics, talks to Devex about how cities can be agents of change.

Urbanization is a rapid and powerful trend around the world with seemingly no sign of abating. The Asian Development Bank, for example, estimates that in Asia alone roughly 44 million people are added to city populations every year.

The way in which urban sprawls are sustainably managed can be a major force for global climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies.

But while they are in a unique position to be significant agents of change, cities aren’t primarily motivated by global mandates, at least outwardly, said Chris Perine, urban planning specialist at Chemonics.

“Really what they are looking at is how they can deliver services more effectively to their citizens,” he told Devex in a video interview. That entails better mass transit, more efficient lighting and heating systems for buildings, improved waste management and cleaner sources of energy production. All can ultimately have large positive effects for reducing climate change, but are rooted in locally-oriented strategies.    

The picture is less clear on the adaptation front. As Perine noted, many cities in developing countries lack the capability to accurately determine their main vulnerabilities to climate change and turn them into comprehensive planning processes. Funding, of course, remains a huge challenge.

Watch the video to learn more about how smart cities can contribute to climate change reduction efforts.

Planet Worth is a global conversation in partnership with Abt Associates, Chemonics, HELVETAS, Tetra Tech, the U.N. Development Program and Zurich, exploring leading solutions in the fight against climate change, while highlighting the champions of climate adaptation amid emerging global challenges. Visit the campaign site and join the conversation using #PlanetWorth.

About the author

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Naki B. Mendozamfbmendoza

Naki is a reporter for Devex Impact based in Washington, D.C., where he covers the intersection of business and international development. Prior to Devex he was a Latin America reporter for Energy Intelligence covering corporate investments and political risks in the region’s energy sector. His previous assignments abroad have posted him throughout Europe, South America and Australia.


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