Why emerging Asia is the hub of climate-smart urban development

About four out of every five people impacted by sea-level rise by 2050 will live in East or Southeast Asia, creating an urgent need climate-smart solutions for cities. This year’s Innovate4Climate summit will look at the climate-smart solutions the region needs.

About four out of every five people impacted by sea-level rise by 2050 will live in East or South East Asia, creating an urgent need climate-smart solutions for cities. This year’s Innovate4Climate summit will look at the climate-smart solutions the region needs.

Cities account for more than 70 per cent of all global CO2 emissions each year,—the equivalent of more than 5 billion cars on the road. As these cities grow so too will their carbon footprint, in the absence of concrete action to help improve urban development.

Moreover, as cities develop, their exposure to climate and disaster risk also increases. Many of Asia’s megacities—Bangkok, Dhaka, Guangzhou, Ho Chi Minh City, Kolkata, Manila, Mumbai, Shanghai, Yangon—are low-lying or coastal cities and highly vulnerable to rising sea levels, floods, and other impacts of climate change. About four out of every five people impacted by sea-level rise by 2050 will live in Asia.

Building cities that “work”—inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable—requires intensive policy coordination and investment choices. Once a city is built, its physical form and land use patterns can be locked in for generations, leading to unsustainable sprawl.

Emerging market cities in Asia and around the world have the opportunity to leapfrog historic approaches to urban development.  

For instance, by 2020, Beijing plans to replace over 70,000 gasoline and diesel taxis with electric vehicles. Seoul is aiming to add 2,000 km of bike paths and create 250 pedestrian zones. Hanoi plans to generate electricity from its biggest landfill, which will reduce emissions and generate electricity.

With nearly 8,000 people per square kilometre, Singapore has the world’s third highest population densityYet the city-state is a prime example of climate-smart development. 

In addition to hosting the world’s largest underground district cooling network in the world, the country is also home to  Semakau landfill. The off-shore landfill, where incinerator ash is deposited, comprises silt screens, an on-site wastewaste treatment plant for water to be discharged into the sea, and an impermeable layer to deter leaching, ensuring that the man-made island remains habitable for a diverse range of marine life.

Watch the video explainer by Innovate4Climate (I4C), the World Bank Group’s flagship event on climate change solutions, on the challenges and opportunities for climate-smart cities.

This year’s I4C focused on how to build cities that are inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable.

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