New cities putting millions at risk from climate change

A forthcoming study from McGill University suggests that developers and planning authorities involved in building over one hundred new cities around the world are doing very little to make their projects resilient to rising sea levels and extreme weather events due to climate change.

McGill geography professor Sarah Moser mapped 120 new cities under construction in Asia, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East. She discovered that many of them are located in vulnerable coastal areas, which she attributes to the fact that many of these projects are real estate projects geared towards the wealthy as investment vehicles. In some cases, the authorities are seeking to make a break from the past, billing the new cities as a “utopian solution” to common urban problems such as overcrowding and congestion.

While Moser’s work to date as an urban and cultural geographer has been on deciphering the politics and ideology behind the development of new cities, the data she has gathered on urban development in coastal areas is leading her to examine the new city phenomenon through the lens of sustainability, more specifically how climate change and resilience planning are being integrated into the design of these new cities.

Moser’s early findings are disheartening, according to a McGill University press release. “I’ve determined that there are only about eight cities out of 120 that are even talking about climate change. It’s really a minimal effort,” said Moser.

Image credit: marco bono via Flickr

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