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Flagship 3: RISE UP for Climate Resilience in Vulnerable Settlements

Cerin Kizhakkethottam



Wednesday, June 29, 2022


UN-Habitat Arena
Polish, English, Spanish, CART (English)
Arena 12


The world stands at a crossroads in its efforts to take action to mitigate climate change and adapt to its effects. Whichever road we turn down on this crossroad, the path has to pass through cities. Time is running out to implement policies that will keep warming well below 2°C, as called for in the Paris Agreement, while also financing the adaptation actions need to cope with the impacts of climate change. 

Meanwhile, we have now crossed the tipping point in terms of urbanization with 55% of the world’s population living in cities – a figure which is expected to rise to 68% by 2050. During this time, an additional 2.5 billion people will live in cities. Without effective mitigation actions, this urban growth could drive up greenhouse gas emissions, while many urban residents, particularly the poor and vulnerable people such as rural-urban migrants, may end up living in unsafe, climate-vulnerable locations along the coast or flood plains.

One of the greatest challenges for climate change adaptation is building resilience for the more than three billion people living in highly vulnerable climate hotspots and particularly for the one billion urban dwellers in informal settlements. Such populations often find themselves in conflict zones between unplanned, inefficient urban expansion, and vulnerable natural habitats. 

The pandemic has exposed deep inequalities in how people live in cities, and how cities serve their residents. The already vulnerable groups have suffered the most. 24% of the world’s urban population live in slums. Less than half the global population can access open public spaces within 400 meters’ walking distance of their homes.

Extreme weather and other adverse effects of climate change can lead to displacement, social tension, and conflict. The latest Global Report on Internal Displacement found that, in 2020, 30 million people were newly displaced because of weather-related disasters – compared with 9.8 million as a result of conflict and violence.

The reality is that the unpredictable trajectory of the four crises namely climate, conflict, Covid-19, and urbanization has made it even more pertinent that we create systemic resilience in our cities leaving no one and no place behind.

There is an urgency to act now, using cities as catalysts to create more sustainable, resilient, and just societies. While more than 75% of the world’s infrastructure is yet to be built by 2050, especially in Asia-Pacific and Sub-Saharan Africa, the global urbanization trends offer a time-limited opportunity to work towards widespread and transformational adaptation and Climate Resilient Development for the most vulnerable urban poor. Cities must plan their growth in a manner that helps conserve the world’s biodiversity and strengthen resilience with the most vulnerable at the center.  


  • To showcase relevant projects on climate adaptation and resilience in vulnerable settlements which are not often mainstreamed in planning processes, policies, or in academia. 

  • To highlight the implementation process, the network of stakeholders needed, and the climate finance mechanisms required. 

Session speakers

Mr Charles Hinga
Principal Secretary
State Department of Housing and Urban Development
Ms Kathy Baughman McLeod
Director and Senior Vice President
Adrienne Arsht–Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center at the Atlantic Council
Ms Maria Adelaida Cea
Asia Pacific Regional Coordinator
Ms Rose Molokoane
Community leader and Founder
Slum Dwellers International
Mr Sanaka Samarasinha
Resident Coordinator to Fiji, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu
UN System