Climate change: prospects and preparation

Climate change often leads to natural disasters like floods, droughts, and heat waves, all of which are especially destructive to the poor. In cities around the world, the urban poor are threatened because they do not have sufficient resources to survive unpredictable natural disasters. Learn how cities are mitigating the risk of environmental degradation and coming up with solutions to help the urban poor in Nairobi, Mumbai, Jakarta, Mexico City, and Rio de Janeiro, then join the discussion below.

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Jorge Bela

 
Jorge Bela — Bogotá Community Manager

 

Bogotá's location is in many ways privileged, with mild temperatures and 12 hours of daylight year-round. This location, however, also entails risks: it is a seismic area, and torrential rains can result in serious flooding. The "Niña" weather pattern creates especially dangerous conditions, like the 2010-2011 period when much of the city was left underwater, especially — although not only — in the poorer neighborhoods.

Prevention, mitigation, and management of natural disasters are not the exclusive responsibilities of the city municipality. As these responsibilities are shared with the central government and other local and regional entities, coordination is imperative. In Bogotá, for instance, the Empresa del Acueducto, an autonomous company, runs the sewer system, a crucial element in flood management, and is responsible, along with several local and national agencies, for the upkeep of the flood-prone Bogotá River.

In order to be able to meet its responsibilities, the municipality needs to have an emergency plan in place (Sistema Distrital de Gestión de Riesgos y Cambio Climático). But a plan is not enough: the principles of disaster management must be applied in all areas of government action, and at all levels of urban planning.

Bogotá Community Manager Jorge Bela has been working as a freelance writer and journalist in Bogotá since 2010. Prior to that, he worked at El Pais, Spain's leading newspaper, and Analistas Financieros Internacionales. Bela has also worked as a researcher at the European Latin American Research Institute and as project manager at the University at Albany, State University of New York. He has an M.A. in Latin American Studies from the University of Florida and completed the coursework for a Ph.D. in comparative politics at the University at Albany.

 

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