Taking climate change fight to the cities

As part of the International Research Initiative on Adaptation to Climate Change (IRIACC), a new initiative led by Gordon McBean at The University of Western Ontario will help cities around the world mitigate risks created by climate change.

Co-led by Anond Snidvongs from Chulalongkorn University in Thailand, the Coastal Cities at Risk: Building Capacity for Managing Climate Change in Coastal Megacities (CCaR) project will examine how to best protect people, communities and vital economic sectors – like manufacturing, transportation and fisheries – most at risk from the effects of climate change. The team was awarded $2.5 million for its efforts Thursday by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and other Canadian funding agencies.

The CCaR hopes to expand knowledge related to climate change, while enhancing megacities’ ability to successfully adapt to – and, when necessary, cope with – risks associated with it, including sea level rise. This research will examine specific factors within the context of urban growth and development, and has partners in Philippines and Nigeria, as well as in Canada and Thailand.

Cities that will be studied – including Manila, Lagos, Vancouver and Bangkok – were chosen for their range of weather patterns and socio-cultural-economic characteristics, and to provide enhanced research efforts through ongoing initiatives.

McBean is a geography and political science professor at Western and director of policy studies at the university’s Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction. As a lead author and review editor for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), he shared the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to the IPCC in 2007.

“These efforts dovetail perfectly with Western’s established international research strengths in both environmental sustainability and natural disaster mitigation,” says Ted Hewitt, Western’s vice-president (research and international relations). “We are proud of the leadership role Gordon McBean continues to take in providing innovative research outcomes that create very tangible differences for not only our world today, but for generations to come.”

CCaR is one of five international projects sharing in $12.5 million in funding from the IDRC, Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) under the International Research Initiative on Adaptation to Climate Change (IRIACC).

Together, these research projects, which will take place in Canada and in developing countries across four continents, aim to address an important gap in our climate change knowledge – namely, how to anticipate, manage and reduce climate risk vulnerability through adaptation.