Every year, half a million tourists flock to the beaches of Labadee, where Royal Caribbean Cruise ships dock for the benefit of passengers yearning for a brief escape to Caribbean shores.
The Atlantic-bathed beach resort is located some six kilometers from the northern city of Cap-Haïtien. It has become a genuine tourist destination thanks to its colonial architecture, it’s delicious ‘’capois’’ cuisine and its proximity to the National History Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site boasting historic monuments such as the Citadelle Henry, the Sans Souci Palace, and the Milot Church.
Yet, a mere 80,238 tourists visited the National History Park in 2014. While these numbers represent a significant increase in tourism, it pales in comparison to the crowds of tourists lining Labadee’s beaches. For the Royal Caribbean passengers, the opportunity of walking through Cap-Haïtien’s historic city center and visiting the National History Park could stimulate both the development of tourism and the local economy.
“There is a growing demand to develop the North as a tourism destination in a sustainable way and to improving the generation of economic opportunities. With this is mind, the World Bank is supporting the government’s development strategy in the North and finances a large integrated program in the region to provide better delivery services and road connectivity” said Anabela Abreu, World Bank Country Director for Haiti.”
Cap-Haïtien is currently experiencing a high level of urbanization and is home to approximately 290,000 inhabitants, and will reach 330,000 by 2020. As the recently released World Bank report “Haitian Cities: Actions for Today with An Eye on Tomorrow” highlights: urbanization in other countries is often accompanied by economic growth, increased productivity, and improved standards of living. In the case of Haiti, and particularly in the North, the absence of planning remains one of the main bottleneck for the region’s sustainable economic development.
“Cap-Haïtien is trapped between mountain and ocean in a land space of scarcely more than several square kilometers. With virtually all available land space used up, residents are now headed for the mountain slopes overlooking the city, making matters worse. The community lacks the capacity to apply the necessary fixes, which require a much more significant capital, technical, and legislative intervention,’’ says Cap-Haïtien Mayor, Jean Claude Mondésir.
Uncoordinated and unregulated construction, particularly in at-risk areas, increases the city’s vulnerability to soil erosion and flooding, which has been a recurrent problem in the North in the last few years.
To tackle these challenges and put Cap Haitien on the road to resilience and robust tourism in the North, the World Bank is supporting the government’s development strategy for the Grand Nord region through a series of integrated projects in tourism, urban resilience, agriculture, climate investment, energy, health, transport and water amounting to USD 177 million in investments.
Among these investments, the Cultural Heritage Preservation and Tourism Sector Support project is supporting the conservation of the National History Park, upgrading of the historic city center, and supporting the creation of 370 small and medium enterprises providing cultural and tourism services. In addition, the project on Municipal Development and Urban Resilience aims to reduce the risk of flooding in the city center and improve the capacity of Cap Haïtien and neighboring communes to deliver services to city populations.
These investments open new opportunities for people in the North. Watch the video and go on a journey to Citadel Henri to discover Haiti’s rich cultural heritage and economic potential.
Banking on nature: a Mexican city adapts to climate change
The Mexican city of Xalapa is surrounded by ecosystems that not only harbor stunning flora and fauna, but also provide crucial services to the city and its 580,000 people.
The cloud forest, an indigenous mountain rainforest neighbouring the city, provides 30 per cent of Xalapa’s water supply, while the diverse soil and vegetation around it is a vital store of carbon. But both these natural assets and the city itself are feeling the effects by climate change. Fluctuating temperatures and rainfall patterns are destabilizing the mountain slopes around the city, leading to frequent landslides, while intense rains in the mountains cascade into urban areas below, causing turmoil for the city’s residents.
“Human resilience to climate change depends on ecosystems, and we need urgent measures to protect them,” says Isabel Garcia, author of a study examining the climate vulnerability of Xalapa.
In particular, Garcia’s study identified urban expansion–and its effect on the surrounding environment—as an exacerbating factor in the climate-related risks facing the city.
“We have a city that has approximately 20,000 uninhabited homes, because they were built in inaccessible areas, without potable water and drainage services,” Xalapa’s Deputy Director of Planning, Angélica Moya, says.
“We have irregular settlements in areas that should have never been urbanized, and now we have landslides and floods.”
Focusing on natural solutions
Recognizing both the climate change impacts facing the city and the importance of Xalapa’s surrounding ecosystems for helping its people adapt to these changes, local authorities are now turning to natural solutions. Partnering with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), they are working to restore and protect large areas of cloud forest around the city under the Global Environment Facility-backed CityAdapt project.
A five-year initiative, CityAdapt is working across Latin America and the Caribbean to support cities in their efforts to adapt to climate change, an issue that is increasingly a priority for municipalities around the region, according to UNEP’s Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, Leo Heileman.
“In Latin America and the Caribbean, where 80 per cent of the population lives in cities, we urgently need to shift from vicious cycles of degradation to the virtuous dynamic of resilient ecosystems,” Heileman says.
The CityAdapt project marks Xalapa as the first Latin American city to seize the potential of ecosystem-based adaptation–an approach that uses nature to adapt to climate change. By leveraging the natural environment–like the role of trees in regulating water flow and preventing landslides and erosion—ecosystem-based adaptation can help reduce both flood and drought, and is often much more cost-effective than engineered structures built to serve the same role.
“The main goal of this project is to enhance the capacity of local governments to face the adverse effects of climate change,” Sergio Angón, CityAdapt National Coordinator in Mexico, says.
Within the framework of the project, two reports have already been produced for Xalapa on climate change vulnerability and potential climate scenarios for 2039.
The vulnerability analysis identified areas most at risk from climate change. It also measured the adaptive capacity of the ecosystems that currently provide Xalapa with surface water supply, soil retention and carbon storage.
According to the analysis, Xalapa’s cloud forest—an ecosystem already reduced to just 1 per cent of its former range around Mexico—could see temperatures rise by as much as 1.8°C by 2039, impacting biodiversity, as well as potentially increasing the spread and intensity of diseases in the nearby coffee plantations.
Balancing people and nature
But by restoring the forest and working to limit the growing city’s negative impacts on the surrounding environment, CityAdapt is helping Xalapa strike a vital balance between people and nature.
“We need to move Xalapa in an orderly way towards a new model of territorial development, in which resilience is the key focus,” Xalapa mayor, Hipólito Rodríguez, says.
Alongside research and forest restoration, CityAdapt is backing other adaptation initiatives, such as enhanced watershed planning, and strengthening local livelihoods.
Rainwater harvesting systems are being introduced in public buildings and schools, ensuring adequate water supplies in the face of increasingly unpredictable rains, while the project is also teaching climate-resilient agricultural practices to local communities.
“This is an opportunity to rethink the way we build a city,” says Angelica Moya.
As urbanization grows, cities unveil sustainable development solutions on World Day
Over half of the world’s population now live in cities, with numbers expected to double by 2050, but while urbanization poses serious challenges, cities can also be powerhouses for sustainable development; something the UN is spotlighting on World Cities Day, marked 31 October.
The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) will host a celebration at its Paris Headquarters on Thursday, convening representatives from all corners of the world for discussions on how cities can combat the climate crisis, create more inclusive urban spaces, and contribute to technical innovation.
Cities provide a wealth of opportunities, jobs included, and generate over 80 per cent of gross national product across the globe, according to UN estimates. Urban areas also account for between 60 and 80 per cent of all energy consumption, despite only occupying three per cent of the planet’s surface and are responsible for three quarters of all greenhouse gas emissions.
In addressing these pros and cons, the Organisation has advocated for a “people-centred” development model, and aims to “re-humanise cities” in the face of trends impacting them, from population growth, demographic shifts, and increasing the risk of disasters induced by climate change.
This year’s theme: “Changing the world: innovations and better life for future generations” spotlights the role of technology and young people in building sustainable cities. To do so, Thursday’s commemorative event will be organized along four key discussion themes: ‘Cities 4 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)’, ‘Cities 4 Climate Action’, ‘Cities 4 Communities’, and ‘Cities 4 the Future’.
In line with its multidisciplinary mandate, UNESCO’s 2004 Creative Cities Network continues to harness the various ways cities spanning the globe are placing creativity and cultural industries at the heart of their development plans.
From gastronomy in Tucson, Arizona, to design in Nagoya, Japan, the network engages more than 246 cities, which integrate creative approaches in their development plans, 66 of which UNESCO announced as newcomers on the World Day. See the complete list of cities, and their creative undertakings here.
For World Cities Day this year, UNESCO is partnering with the UN”s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), UN-Habitat, and refugee agency (UNHCR) to amplify the concerted action of the United Nations for cities alongside their planners and other urban players.
The UN-proclaimed World Day serves as a call for States, municipalities and city dwellers to work together for transformative change and sustainable strategies for cities, as urbanization continues to swell.
UN chief calls cities a battleground for climate crisis
Secretary-General António Guterres explained in a statement attributable to his spokesperson, that “the choices that will be made on urban infrastructure in the coming decades…will have decisive influence on the emissions curve. Indeed, cities are where the climate battle will largely be won or lost.”
From electric public transport to renewable and energy and better waste management systems, cities are “hubs of innovation and creativity, and young people are taking the lead.”
In addition, he highlighted that World Cities Day comes as “urban October” concludes, a month dedicated to raising awareness of urban challenges, and successes in sustainability.
“Let us commit to embracing innovation to ensure a better life for future generations and chart a path towards sustainable, inclusive urban development that benefits all”, he encouraged.
Spotlight on cities
Over half the world’s people live in cities. As more and more people move into cities from rural areas a number of environmental and social challenges arise, including overcrowding in slum areas, poor sanitation and air pollution. However, urbanization can also present great opportunities and is a critical tool for achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development if done right.
Cities have always been drivers and incubators of innovation. It is often said that the battle for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals will be won or lost in cities. For this to happen, cities will have to continue to drive innovation to achieve a lasting impact in communities and to ensure that “no one and no place” is left behind.
This year’s World Cities Day, hosted by the City of Ekaterinburg, Russian Federation and co-organized by UN-Habitat, the Shanghai People’s Government and the City of Ekaterinburg, will focus on technology and innovation: digital innovations that can be used for urban services to enhance people’s quality of life and improve the urban environment; technologies for building more inclusive cities; opportunities for generating renewable energy and; technologies that can promote social inclusion in cities.
This year’s theme for World Cities Day on 31 October is “Changing the world: innovations and better life for future generations.”
Technologies such as artificial intelligence, virtual, augmented and mixed reality and the internet of things present efficiency and communications opportunities requiring new governance frameworks. This rapid rate of innovation also puts pressure on urban policymakers and managers to strengthen their capacity when it comes to understanding, procuring and regulating new technologies.
The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) works in partnership with UN-Habitat and others to promote the sustainable development of cities.
Jointly with the World Health Organization, the Climate and Clean Air Coalition and the World Bank, we lead BreatheLife, a global campaign to mobilize cities and individuals to protect our health and our planet from the effects of air pollution.
Together with Cities Alliance, the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) and the World Bank, we launched the Knowledge Centre on Cities and Climate Change (K4C), an online repository of information on climate change that advocates informed decision-making in local governance.
Check out UNEP’s work with partners relating to cities, covering green spaces (and the importance of trees in soaking up pollution), sustainable transport, district heating and cooling, sustainable waste management, sanitation and more.
Emerging East Asia Bond Market Growth Steady Amid Global Slowdown
Emerging East Asia’s local currency bond market posted steady growth during the third quarter of 2019 despite persistent trade uncertainties...
A Resurging Possibility and an Increased Hope for a United Balochistan
According to the Balochistan Liberation charter formulated under Hyrbyair Marri, the division of Balochistan into several parts is a legacy...
Ambitious Reforms for Stronger Economic Growth in Ukraine
Economic growth in Ukraine picked up to 3.6 percent in the first half of 2019 and 4.2 percent in the...
Job Quality in Cambodia is Improving, but New Policies Are Needed to Benefit from Global Markets
The diversity and quality of jobs available in Cambodia is improving, yet new policies are needed for Cambodia to benefit...
US pardons for accused war criminals, contrary to international law
A presidential pardon for two United States soldiers accused of war crimes, and a sentence reduction for a third, “run against...
Lithuanians fight for silence
The Ministry of Defence of Denmark has made an important decision supporting human rights of Danish citizens. Thus, Denmark’s new...
What Jokowi’s anti-radicalism cabinet can do for Indonesian security
Jokowi second terms have been preoccupied with the issue of radicalism following the shocking attack to former coordinator minister of...
Americas3 days ago
The Intellectual Doomsday Clock: 30 Seconds to Midnight?
Africa2 days ago
The Geopolitics of natural resources of Western Sahara
Southeast Asia3 days ago
Belt and Road Initiative: Challenging South and Southeast Asia
Russia3 days ago
Russia, Africa and the Debts
Europe3 days ago
EU chief prosecutor Laura Kovesi needs media freedom to do her job
Newsdesk3 days ago
UNIDO, Ethiopia and China agree to strengthen cooperation on agri-business development
Europe2 days ago
U.S. President Trump to meet Bulgaria’s Prime Minister at the White House: What to expect?
Defense2 days ago
Is this the end of NATO-era?