Conference: African Cities: Climate Change and the Search for Resilience
Prof. Dr. Ines Macamo Raimundo, Department of Geography, University Eduardo Mondlane, Maputo Mozambique
Prof. Dr. Charlotte Wrigley-Asante, Department of Geography and Resource Management, University of Ghana, Legon, Ghana
Prof. Dr. Alex Barimah Owusu, Department of Geography and Resource Management, University of Ghana, Legon, Ghana
Whilst there is compelling evidence to prove that urbanization in Africa has significantly boosted development, the urbanization experience is largely a story of increasing urban poverty, poor land use planning, and inadequate socio-economic infrastructure. The urbanization pressure faced by African countries is exacerbated by the changing climate and also contributes to it. It is a challenge that concerns the entire urban environment, including conflicting imaginations of how African cities of the future should look like. While the issue of how African cities can adapt to their environment has a long history, the frequency and intensity of weather-related hazards in the last decades have increased posing a threat to African cities and a realization of meaningful progress toward the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the Sub-Saharan region. Global warming is making cities warmer and the urbanization process is intensifying. Coastal erosion due to rising sea levels is threatening several coastal cities in Africa, exposing them to episodic floods. Extreme weather events such as drought are forcing rural farmers to migrate to urban centers whiles perennial floods are displacing poorly planned neighborhoods and poor urbanists. As per the report led by Funke (2018), the dramatic situation brought by natural disasters has increased Internally Displaced Persons. Hence, population mobility is increasingly driven by climate change, particularly mobility toward the cities contributing to worsening living conditions.
Many urban dwellers in Africa today live in areas vulnerable to environmental hazards. The poor state of sanitation, ground sealing, the cutting of trees, built-up of green spaces, and agricultural lands with structures, air pollution from waste and fumes from automobiles, the use of air-conditioning systems, fuel-generators, and pollution of water bodies and wetlands are all contributing to harming the environment and the vulnerability of city dwellers (Addae & Oppelt, 2019). The poor land-use practices, more and more tarred roads with no or only a few trees, and non-adapted building materials have increased land surface temperature and contributed to the urban heat island effect. The consequences of the connections between climate change and the urban heat island effect are expected to increase the risk of poor health in cities (Kumar, 2021), while those who have the necessary revenues use more and more climate-unfriendly devices. Climate change could also affect the economic and political stability of cities in addition to negative effects on public health (Raimundo, 2021), thus the need to ascertain the linkages in these areas, its impact on lives, and the gendered implications. However, recent urbanization and development models have sidelined discussions and development of models and strategies for this triad of urbanization, development, and climate nexus which has set Africa under insurmountable pressure and efforts at building resilience. This conference thus seeks to open an interdisciplinary dialogue and solicit models, strategies, and prescriptions for dealing with Africa’s urbanization, development, and climate pressure. It also seeks to highlight local initiatives aimed at building climate resilient cities in Africa.
The key questions that the conference seeks to address include:
➢ To what extent is the nexus between the urbanization process and climate change impacting the lives and livelihoods of urban residents in Africa?
➢ Which sustainable urbanization initiatives/ indigenous knowledge/strategies exist in building climate resilient urban communities?
➢ What lessons could be learned from these strategies/initiatives to build sustainable cities in Africa?
The conference covers issues around (a) Existing climate change models and the implications for African Cities; (b) urbanization and climate change impact on vulnerable populations in Africa -rural vs urban; and (c) Building sustainable cities in Africa – method and strategies.
Axis and Sub-themes:
1. Population, Urbanisation and Climate change nexus - Urbanisation and extreme weather events/Climate change and urban vulnerability - Urbanisation, migration, environmental refugees, and climate change - Gender perspectives on urbanisation and climate change
2. Urbanisation, climate change, and societal response - Climate change, urban vulnerabilities, and institutional response - Indigenous/local knowledge in building a climate-resilient society - Gender perspectives on resilience to climate change
3. Building climate-resilient urban Societies - Building climate smart /sustainable cities - Climate-smart agriculture (in cities) - Gender perspectives on climate change and sustainable cities - Emerging climate activism in the efforts to build resilience
Addae, B., & Oppelt, N. (2019). “Land-Use/Land-Cover Change Analysis and Urban Growth Modeling in the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area (GAMA), Ghana”. In: Urban Science, 3(1), 26.
Funke, N., Jacobs-Mata, I., Nortje, K., Nohayi, N., Raimundo, I., Meissner, R., Kgaphola, J., Mngadi, T. and Moyo, E. (2018). Environmental Migrants – The Forgotten Refugees Affected by Slow-Onset and Rapid-Onset Events in Two Case Study Areas in the Limpopo River Basin, Southern Africa. Research report, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Pretoria.
Raimundo, I, (2021). “International Migration Dynamics in Mozambique and Natural Resource Exploration: Gold and Forest Predation”. ASC-TUFS Working Papers,Volume 1, 2021. http://repository.tufs.ac.jp/handle/10108/99993.
Kumar, P. (2021). Climate Change and Cities: Challenges Ahead. Front.Sustain.Cities, http://doi.org/10.3389/frsc.2021.645613.