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Finding solutions for cities on the frontline of climate change

Participants at the COP25 in Madrid need to demonstrate a strong commitment to ensuring that the world’s cities become part of the solution, instead of the problem, for climate change, say IDRC’s Dominique Charron and Barbara Shenstone1 .

"Proven solutions, backed by rigorous science, exist for many of the climate shocks and stresses facing cities," says Dominique Charron.
Lindsey Gibeau Valberg

Cities are major contributors to climate change, but they also have the power to change the world. They are essential to addressing the global climate change crisis, and some, informed by science, are already doing so. More cities must follow those who are taking action.  

The global desire and capacity for change is strong, as demonstrated by the millions of people worldwide taking to the streets in protest. This call for action will be at the forefront of the 25th Conference of the Parties (COP25) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change taking place from 2 to 13 December in Madrid. This annual meeting brings the international community together to share solutions, galvanize change, and to track progress towards the Paris Agreement climate commitments.  

We must seize upon these opportunities for collaboration as the scale and frequency of climate-change-related crises continue to grow.  

A changing Middle East climate

The devastation caused by extreme weather events is a catalyst for the growing demand for climate action worldwide. The Middle East and North Africa region is particularly vulnerable to climate change, with almost continuous regional drought since 1998, floods in Saudi Arabia,  deadly heat waves in Kuwait, and rising sea levels threatening archaeological sites in Egypt's coastal city of Alexandria.

People across the Middle East and North Africa will face relatively higher social, economic and ecological costs from climate change compared to the rest of the world. Low-lying coastal areas in Tunisia, Qatar, Libya, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and particularly Egypt are at higher risk, according to the UN’s latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment.

The time for action is now.    

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  1. Dominique Charron is the vice-president, programs and partnerships at the International Development Research Centre, Canada. She holds a PhD in epidemiology and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Canada’s University of Guelph. Barbara Shenstone is the Middle East and North Africa Regional Director at the International Development Research Centre.  She holds an MA in international relations from the Norman Patterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University in Ottawa.

Read also Cities On The Front Line Of Climate Change Need To Build Resilience (Forbes, Oct 22, 2019)