Urban Design Codes and Ordinances Tool for Climate Change Adaptation in Cities (Group 6 - Razak Sherif)


   
 

Recalibrating Urban Design Codes as a Sustainable Tool for Climate Change Adaptation Policy Response in Cities

In order to demonstrate the relevance and urgent need for adaptation in urban areas, the report of the Joint Science Academies, 2008, states that Mitigation policies are essential, but not sufficient. Adaptation is necessary if the worst impacts of climate change, now and in the future, are to be alleviated. Mitigation and adaptation can complement each other and if pursued together can significantly reduce the risks of climate change impacts”. Similarly, Sclar (2008, cited in Pierce and Johnson 2008, p. 110) in his work elaborated that "adaptation is the key. If we are going to reverse climate change, we first have to survive long enough to do that".

 

Indeed, if adaptation policy response to climate change is not mainstreamed into urban development and management over the next decade hundred millions of people and livelihoods will be affected by climate change impacts. By, this, adaptation responses are urgently needed, both to address current risks and likely future risks, this can be done by building into urban fabrics and systems responses that guarantee resilience. UNHSP (2011, p. 136) reported examples of actions taken by communities to adapt to climate change-related risks, such as floods and high temperatures, but, the low capacity for funds or deficits of funds especially in the developing countries dwarf the results that can be achieved by this communities.

 

The adaptation responses of Bangkok Thailand reported by UNHSP (2011, p. 140) provide exemplary policy responses to such risks and impacts as rising temperature, ground water quantitative and qualitative shortage, sea level rise, flooding and drought, short duration of heavy rain, and increased frequency and intensity of heavy rains. Other similar growing number of examples of adaptation policy response efforts mainstreamed into urban design code for spatial infrastructure planning in urban areas are described below:

 

i.Responses to flooding:  Building reservoirs to retain floodwater, strengthening dyke systems to resist higher flood levels, and constructing emergency spillways along dykes for selective filling of flood retention basins (World Bank, 2008 cited in UNHSP, 2011, p 149.).

 

ii. Water conservation: The supply of water from local catchments based on an integrated system of reservoirs and an extensive drainage system to channel water for supply high-grade reclaimed water, and desalinated water (World Bank, 2008.UNHSP, 2011, p. 149).

 

iii. Reducing urban temperatures:‘Cool roofs’ and ‘porous pavements’ used to reduce the urban heat island. These are covered with light-coloured water sealants that reflect and radiate more heat than dark surfaces, thus reducing the need for mechanical cooling systems (Bizikova et al, 2008 cited in UNHSP, 2011, p. 149).

 

iv. Prevention of Physical Development in Flood Plains

Legislation that deter and prevent development on flood plain is required, so as to prevent loss of lives and properties when high level of precipitation occurs that inundate the flood plains, since in most urban areas in developing countries, the urban poor constitute a large chunk of urban residents and because of their abysmally low level of income they settle on marginal lands on flood plains in spontaneous, unregulated and unplanned settlements on flood plain. This can be prevented by legislations that rigidly preclude zoning physical development to these areas to prevent phenomenal loss of lives and properties.

 

 

v. Early Warning System

The sophistication and efficiency of the mechanism for the production and reporting of early warning signals of extreme weather events is a critical factor that determine the extent to which the population of city/place respond to anticipated weather events. Where this mechanism is efficient (as in the case of the most developed countries) the population that would have been affected is sensitized or evacuated and the effect of the disaster is reduced to the barest minimum as seen in the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy in the US in 2012.

 

Without efficient early warming mechanism and evacuation, the related losses to live would be more phenomenal. Conversely, where this mechanism is in deficit or less efficient (as in the case of the most developing countries) the population of these places is faced with the weather event as seen in the example of the recent flood in the riverine states of the Delta and Bayelsa States in Southern Nigeria.

 

Conclusion

Action is needed in urban areas not only to address the present climate change challenges by  building into urban fabric and systems adaptive capacities that will guarantee resilience to the unavoidable future risks. Since, present city’s homes, workplaces, transportation and other infrastructure were built without the knowledge of the present and anticipated challenges of climate change, it thus become imperative to re-calibrate and adapt the present fabric of the city system  and future constructions to the realities of climate risks and challenges and hence create a city system with climate compatible development, energy efficient homes, workplaces, transport system and infrastructure that will be environmentally safe, economically viable and socially inclusive.

 

 

 

System Description and Description of Alternatives

  1. Responses to Flooding
  2. Water Conservation
  3. Reducing Urban Temperatures
  4. Prevention of Physical Development in Flood Plain
  5. Early Warning System

Growing number of examples of adaptation policy response efforts mainstreamed into urban design code for spatial infrastructure planning in urban areas are described below:

 

i.Responses to flooding:  Building reservoirs to retain floodwater, strengthening dyke systems to resist higher flood levels, and constructing emergency spillways along dykes for selective filling of flood retention basins (World Bank, 2008 cited in UNHSP, 2011, p 149.).

 

ii. Water conservation: The supply of water from local catchments based on an integrated system of reservoirs and an extensive drainage system to channel water for supply high-grade reclaimed water, and desalinated water (World Bank, 2008.UNHSP, 2011, p. 149).

 

iii. Reducing urban temperatures:‘Cool roofs’ and ‘porous pavements’ used to reduce the urban heat island. These are covered with light-coloured water sealants that reflect and radiate more heat than dark surfaces, thus reducing the need for mechanical cooling systems (Bizikova et al, 2008 cited in UNHSP, 2011, p. 149).

 

iv. Prevention of Physical Development in Flood Plains

Legislation that deter and prevent development on flood plain is required, so as to prevent loss of lives and properties when high level of precipitation occurs that inundate the flood plains, since in most urban areas in developing countries, the urban poor constitute a large chunk of urban residents and because of their abysmally low level of income they settle on marginal lands on flood plains in spontaneous, unregulated and unplanned settlements on flood plain. This can be prevented by legislations that rigidly preclude zoning physical development to these areas to prevent phenomenal loss of lives and properties.

 

 

v. Early Warning System

The sophistication and efficiency of the mechanism for the production and reporting of early warning signals of extreme weather events is a critical factor that determine the extent to which the population of city/place respond to anticipated weather events. Where this mechanism is efficient (as in the case of the most developed countries) the population that would have been affected is sensitized or evacuated and the effect of the disaster is reduced to the barest minimum as seen in the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy in the US in 2012.

 

Without efficient early warming mechanism and evacuation, the related losses to live would be more phenomenal. Conversely, where this mechanism is in deficit or less efficient (as in the case of the most developing countries) the population of these places is faced with the weather event as seen in the example of the recent flood in the riverine states of the Delta and Bayelsa States in Southern Nigeria.

Criteria Describing Alternatives

  1. Inclusiveness of Equity
  2. Institutional Capacity
  3. Cost Effectiveness
  4. Timely Implementation
  5. Flexibility

 

Figure 1.0 Quantitative and Qualitative Information Pertinent to Alternatives

Quantitative and Qualitative Information Pertinent to Alternatives

s/n

Criteria describing the alternatives

+/-

Measuring unit

Weight

Compared Alternatives

Responses to Flooding

Water Conservation

Reducing Urban Temperatures

Prevention of Physical Development in Flood Plain

Early Warning System

1.

Inclusiveness and Equity

 

Units

0.4

8

6

8

8

9

2.

Institutional Capacity

 

Units

0.6

10

10

8

8

10

3.

Cost Effectiveness

 

Units

0.2

2

2

4

4

8

4.

Timely Implementation

 

Units

0.4

4

2

4

4

8

5.

Flexibility

 

Units

0.2

4

3

6

5

9

        0= Minimum Point, 10= Maximum Point

      

       Figure 2.0 Quantitative and Qualitative Information Pertinent to Alternatives (Result of Multi-Criteria Analysis)

Quantitative and Qualitative Information Pertinent to Alternatives

s/n

Criteria describing the alternatives

+/-

Measuring unit

Weight

Compared Alternatives

Responses to Flooding

Water Conservation

Reducing Urban Temperatures

Prevention of Physical Development in Flood Plain

Early Warning System

1.

Inclusiveness and Equity

 

Units

0.4

8

6

8

8

9

2.

Institutional Capacity

 

Units

0.6

10

10

8

8

10

3.

Cost Effectiveness

 

Units

0.2

2

2

4

4

8

4.

Timely Implementation

 

Units

0.4

4

2

4

4

8

5.

Flexibility

 

Units

0.2

4

3

6

5

9

Significance of Alternative

0.561

0.460

0.601

0.580

0.8881

Priority of Alternative

4

5

2

3

1

Utility Degree of the Alternative (%)

(56%)

(46%)

(60%)

(58%)

(88%)

        0= Minimum Point, 10= Maximum Point

 

References

Cook, J. (2010) The Scientific Guide to Global Warming Skepticism 

 

Joint Science Academics (2008), Joint Science Academics’ statement: climate change adaptation and the transition to a low carbon society www.insaindia.org/pdf/climate>Access on 21/10/2011

 

Moser, C. and Satterthwaite, D. (2008) Towards pro-poor adaptation to climate change in the urban centres of low and middle income countries  Human Settlements Discussion Paper Series: Climate Change and Cities Discussion Paper 3. London, UK.  Human Settlement Programme, International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED).

 

Peirce, N. R. and Johnson, C. W. (2008). Century of the City: No time to lose. New York: The Rockefeller Foundation.

 

Razak, S. Y. (2012) Climate Change and Its Causes Unpublished Ph.D Thesis, School of Built Environment (SOBE) University of Salford, Manchester, UK

 

United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UNHSP), (2011). Global Report on Human Settlement:Cities and Climate Change: Policy Directions,United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) Earthscan, UK and USA.