A number of South Asian countries, including Sri Lanka and Bhutan, are struggling to cope with the impact of climate change. While there is growing realization of the need to integrate climate-resilient development principles and strategies with development plans, there is significant lack of understanding of how this can be achieved by cities, even though they are the main stakeholders in the preparation of an effective response to climate change.
In this regard, the Asia LEDS Partnership (ALP), co-hosted by ICLEI South Asia, worked with the cities of Gelephu (including the Sarpang District) and Kurunegala in Bhutan and Sri Lanka, respectively, to develop city climate action plans by adopting the Climate Resilient City Action Plan (CRCAP) methodology. The preparation of the CRCAPs was driven by a multi-stakeholder consultation process under the guidance of the City Climate Core Teams of both cities. The ALP offered technical assistance to both cities, with funding support from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).
The CRCAP methodology involves a systematic step-by-step combined adaptation and mitigation planning for cities based on ICLEI’s Green Climate Cities (GCC) Programme. As part of the CRCAP preparation, climate-resilient interventions are identified on the basis of vulnerable urban systems, areas and actors. GHG emissions information and resilience actions were also identified to help the cities in reducing carbon emissions, and in successfully adapting to potential climate impacts in the future.
The process of identifying the fragile urban systems of the cities included interactions with key stakeholders in Kurunegala and Sarpang as well as Gelephu Thromde. The ClimateResilient CITIES methodology helped to determine the broad climate risks associated with these fragile urban systems, the most vulnerable areas in the cities, besides the vulnerable actors. The GHG emissions of the cities were recorded using ICLEI’s Heat+ tool, which helped to identify the major sectors responsible for carbon emissions in the cities and also the sectors with the maximum potential to reduce emissions.
The resilience strategies identified for each urban fragile system were assessed in terms of their technical, political and financial feasibility, and the time that would be taken by them to make an impact on the ground. They were selected for the benefits they could provide in terms of cutting down GHG emissions by reducing energy consumption and by providing structural strategies to counter climate impacts on these fragile urban systems. The intervention identification process also recognised the implementing plans, keeping in mind future impacts as well.
The draft document was presented to the climate core teams for their comments and revision during the stakeholder meeting cum training workshops organised in Kurunegala, Sri Lanka, and Thimphu, Bhutan. The workshops were held in Kurunegala on the 7th and 8th of October 2019, and in Thimphu on the 13th and 14th of November 2019. The ALP representatives conducted technical training sessions required for the preparation of a robust CRCAP. The themes/topics covered during these sessions included tools and processes of CRCAP methodology; presentation on the draft city-level energy use, greenhouse gas (GHG) emission inventory and climate research along with data gaps; urban system analysis and risk assessment; vulnerable places and people; and adaptive capacity assessment and formulation & prioritization of resilient interventions. More than 50 officials from Sri Lanka and Bhutan attended the CRCAP training.
The CRCAPs have been tabled in the respective City Councils of Kurunegala and Sarpang for their approval and vetting.
Figure 1: Participants discuss the CRCAP at a training workshop held on the 13th and 14th of November 2019 in Thimphu, Bhutan
Figure 2: The climate core team discusses the CRCAP at a training workshop held on the 7th and 8th of October 2019 in Kurunegala, Sri Lanka