Developing countries exploring pathways to climate compatibility

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Stef Raubenheimer from Rio+20: green cities

MAPS is interested in the issue of cities, and is beginning to think of applying the MAPS approach to the city context.

A city the size of Munich is created every week on the planet. Fifty percent of global gross domestic product (GDP) is produced in just 600 cities, the engine of development. More than half the world’s population now lives in cities—for the first time in history. Cities are critical to the challenge of climate change. This we know—these are facts often quoted.

So what do cities need to be competitive? They need efficient transport and mobility, and a reliable energy supply. They need to keep emissions, water usage and waste creation at a minimum. They need to provide comfort and security to city dwellers. But cities are often not that innovative, they prefer to copy. We can look at the Siemens Green Cities Index for some comparisons.

In emissions, there are huge variables: Sao Paulo has very low emissions (probably due to its reliance on hydropower) and has committed to a reduction of 30% within the next few years. Others of course have very high emissions.

Juan Clos of UN Habitat tells us that there are different projections for urbanisation over the next 30 years (see a summary of the UN Habitat State of the World’s Cities report). The World Bank says we will double the entire historical input in infrastructure in this time. So first and foremost, as far as drivers are concerned, we need to look at the phenomenon of urbanisation. It is a difficult process to understand, and is closely related to development. In China 600 million people were urbanised in 30 years; this happened because of development driven by development policies. So why is Africa urbanising without industrialisation? Africa is growing at 4% and this is due to urbanisation. If we at MAPS are to consider cities, we will need to work with researchers who have an understanding of this complex phenomenon. One then has to look at the difference between “good” and “bad” urbanisation. The unplanned form of urbanisation is of course the slum.

Siemens Brazil in partnership with the City of Rio de Janeiro, is conducting a study on ‘Scenarios of the Future’. The “Scenario” culminates in a picture of the city of Rio de Janeiro in 2030-2040, exploring the future challenges, with levers of change, city policies and investments, with relevant input for business and portfolio strategy. This is of interest to the MAPS Programme. To develop these ‘Scenarios of the Future’, trends and drivers were isolated together with a description of key future elements. Stakeholder involvement was extensive; interviews validated the scenarios that were created. The scenarios included extrapolation and retropolation (or forecasting and backcasting). Through this, pictures of the future were invented, looking from short to medium to long term trends. Siemens pre-launched the study on the 18th of June, at Rio+20, United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. The study expected to be finalized in November 2012. The study’s focus is on education, security and health (not emissions). Three hundred trends were clustered in 13 trend clusters – the scenarios will show how these clusters will interact. The approach shows a scenario of a prosperous future for the selected cities. This creates the “pull” towards a preferred future. Then one can look at what needs to be done to achieve this future, in energy, water treatment, mobility and so on. Technology choices and policy decisions come into play. The Siemens project is indeed interesting. (See Siemens’press release about the study).

This type of scenario study does not appear to model emissions, but could well be a set of drivers that we could use for modeling. It presents some very interesting challenges for MAPS. Also, the stakeholder method is very different from the MAPS approach. A closer look at this approach would be good!

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