Poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies
General Studies 2:
Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
General Studies 3:
Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment
Building Climate-Smart Cities
According to UN-Habitat’s estimates, over 64 per cent of the world population is expected to reside in cities by 2050.
Cities consume enormous resources. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that urban infrastructure accounts for two-third of the global energy use and 70 per cent of energy related Green House Gas (GHG) emissions. By 2025 megacities of 10 million or more people will house more than half the world’s population and contribute more than half of global GDP.
As India’s urban population grows from 410 million in 2014 to 814 million in 2050, with about 7 cities having more than 10 million people, there will be rise in energy consumption, degradation of forest areas and agricultural land and disturbed ecosystems, problems of water supply and solid waste management.
This will be accentuated by growing risks of climate vulnerability (frequent floods, cyclones, extreme temperature and heat waves) disrupting city lives and affecting the poor who typically lack adequate resources and safeguards to fight such stresses.
Lot to lose:
The scale of such damages enormous-
the 2011 Bangkok flood caused damages of $45 billion to the global supply chain of which only 10 billion was insured.
Swiss Re, a reinsurer estimated that of the $50 billion or so losses to floods, cyclones and other disasters in Asia in 2014, only 8 per cent were covered.
This provides an opportunity for cities to lead the world towards a sustainable future by becoming resilient and climate-smart and, ‘leap-frogging’ the inefficient and resource-intensive systems of the past.
It needs set of city-specific strategies to systematically reduce city’s carbon footprint and enhance resilience to climate change through smart, affordable and, resilient infrastructure, and mixed form of adaptable land-use.
Cities can use ‘predictive models’ to assess the potential risks of climate vulnerabilities (erratic rainfalls, flood, high temperature) and, monetise those risks to account for additional financial and social costs for building safeguards.
Decoupling city’s economic growth from the growth of GHG emissions:
Each city should have a clearly defined ‘low carbon pathway’, a series of interventions like
Integrated solid waste management (ISWM).
Energy efficient energy/ water supply.
Harnessing rooftop solar and battery storage.
Green urban mobility (including electric mobility, public and, non-motorised transport).
Green and affordable building infrastructure.
Financing climate-smart cities:
Needs innovative solutions. The ability of cities to finance urban infrastructure largely depends on their budgets, revenue sources and creditworthiness.
The perceived lack of creditworthiness (among 500 largest emerging market cities, only 4 per cent are creditworthy) for most cities in India becomes a critical barrier to secure affordable financing on international market or issue bonds to fund climate projects.
Credit enhancement facilities such as, Guarantee Fund can help cities to overcome such barrier and raise funds by issuing bonds, etc.
An effective way to catalyse private investment in urban projects is to mobilise credits through local financial institutions (LFIs). These are better positioned to assess and manage the risks inherent to the local authorities and, mobilise medium and, long-term financing in local currencies, thus eliminating the forex risk.
To attract investments, cities should develop a pipeline of ‘bankable’ projects that meet broad feasibility parameters. Project preparation is expensive, typically accounts for 5-10 per cent of the project cost, and, most cities lack capacity for conducting feasibility, design and, financial structuring of the projects. Development partners and multilateral banks, equipped with global best-practices, can step in to support cities in setting project selection criteria to favour climate-smart infrastructure, laying right indicators for monitoring sustainability, and building technical and financial capacity of city officials to mainstream climate goals in planning, designing, operations and maintenance of the city.
Transformative change is needed in how we build our cities, transport people and goods, and manage our landscapes. The need is urgent; the time-frame for making the choice is critical due to lock-in effect of capital and technology. The challenge is not simply to increase the volume of funding in the pipeline, but also to create an enabling environment to catalyse new finance flow from a broad spectrum of investors — public or private.
Connecting the dots:
Transforming cities into climate-smart ones is the need of the hour. Discuss. Also elaborate on ways Indian states can be made so.
General Studies 2:
Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
General Studies 1:
Population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues
Focusing on improving nutrition
Many people are not eating the right food.
For some, it’s simply a decision to stick with food they enjoy, but which isn’t too healthy.
This is leading to an increase in non-communicable diseases. This in turn leads to major burdens on our health-care systems that have the potential to derail the economic progress that is essential for the poor to improve their lives.
For others, it’s about limited access to nutritious foods or a lack of affordability, leading to monotonous diets that do not provide the daily nutrients for them to develop fully.
Diets are changing, but not always for the better.
Part of the reason nutrition is under threat worldwide is that our food systems are not properly responding to nutritional needs. In other words, somewhere along that long road from farm to fork, the movement is not smooth.
There is now a major international effort to improve global food systems and link those improvements to better nutrition and diets.
Last year, in Rome, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN (FAO) and the World Health Organisation convened an International Symposium on Sustainable Food Systems for Healthy Diets and Improved Nutrition. It was a follow-up to the Second International Conference on Nutrition in 2014.
These conferences are placing nutrition at the centre of the debate on improving our food systems because while improving nutrition is a personal responsibility, it also depends on how policies are framed.
The vast majority of the food we eat is produced by smallholder farmers, many of whom are poor and undernourished themselves. Improvements to food systems must be achieved in ways that benefit their livelihood and nutritional needs. The Sustainable Development Goals have a target that recognises that smallholders provide a critical entry point for building dynamic rural economies and they need to be resourced with inputs and technology and linked to higher market value.
Bringing together the key players in the food system- the people who grow our food, and the people who transport it, process it, market it and sell it-for policy making. This would facilitate informed decision.
We must place nutrition at the centre of the debate on improving our food systems. We must all work together to equip our food systems to produce and deliver more nutritious food. Only then can the goal of achieving zero hunger be realised.
Connecting the dots:
There exists a serious disconnect between farm to fork resulting into poor nutritional status of most of the Indians. Analyze.
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