UN-HABITAT Report Explores Climate Change, Urbanization in SIDS

May 2015: A small island developing States (SIDS) urban agenda must reflect the cultural, economic and geographic characteristics of SIDS, in order to address sustainable urbanization in SIDS, according to a publication by the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT).

The report provides an overview of current trends in climate change and urbanization, describes the impact of climate change on cities in SIDS, and explores the role of urban planning and design as a tool for addressing the challenges and opportunities of climate change in relation to human settlements in SIDS.

‘Urbanization and Climate Change in Small Island Developing States' responds to SIDS' calls to enable strong, genuine and durable partnerships at all levels and to strengthen long-standing cooperation and support from the international community. The publication is part of UN-HABITAT's ‘Cities and Climate Change Series.'

Global urbanization trends are present in SIDS, where 59% of residents live in urban settlements. According to the report, the term ‘urban' in the SIDS context can refer to a small town connected by villages on a single island, along a coastal perimeter or a series of islets.

“Climate change threatens the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” particularly for SIDS, the report states. To position SIDS to achieve the SDGs and tackle climate change, the report emphasizes the importance of adapting resilience and sustainable urbanization concepts to the SIDS context and adopting innovative approaches such as the blue economy.

The report recommends promoting compact urban forms to address the ‘primacy of capitals' and resulting urban sprawl. Tools for achieving compact urban forms include smart growth principles, land use regulation, development and recognition of urban growth boundaries, and promotion of walking and cycling.

The report further recommends: adopting ecosystems-based approaches (EbA) to adaptation, such as reducing exposure to natural disasters through maintaining coastal ecosystems; incorporating an inclusive human rights-based approach; prioritizing investments and improving local capacity; and compiling adequate local data and information systems. [Publication: Urbanization and Climate Change in Small Island Developing States] More