Strengthening climate resilience in African cities: A framework for working with informality
The idea of ‘climate compatible development’ is gaining ground in international policy circles. It is aimed at fusing the climate change adaptation and mitigation agendas with the mainstream development agenda. This raises a key set of questions, especially where African cities – and other developing world cities – are concerned. What opportunities and challenges does this present in the context of rapidly growing cities across the African continent, where two key features are widespread: informality and deeply entrenched inequality? Informality comes in many forms, including settlement on unplanned land without public services and bulk infrastructure; unregistered housing construction and transfer; informal and insecure jobs; and unregulated trade and service provision.
In the light of the threats posed by changing climatic conditions and the prevailing realities of economic and political disempowerment, how might we go about grounding and working with the idea of climate compatible development so that we can envision and build new urban futures in cities across Africa that are vibrant, inclusive and sustainable? This document is intended mainly for use by city practitioners operating in local government agencies and civic organisations. It distils a set of eight principles for engaging in such development work, and suggests an eight-step process as a guide for undertaking climate compatible development in African cities that factors in climate dynamics alongside the socioeconomic, spatial and political dimensions of development.