REPORT: Urban diagnostics of climate and development risks to Bangalore and Madurai
Cities in India face the challenge of how to promote growth and poverty alleviation while avoiding irreversible and costly environmental damage. Their populations are growing rapidly and continue to have significant numbers of people living in poverty. They are also particularly vulnerable to climate hazards such as flooding and cyclones and to the risks associated with unsustainable high carbon, high energy use pathways.
Since March 2013 a team from Atkins, Indian Institute of Human Settlements (IIHS) and University College London have been investigating how to tackle the complex set of interconnected risks facing the cities of Bangalore and Madurai.
Step one has been helping the city government officials and stakeholders to identify and understand existing and future risks and challenges that Bangalore and Madurai face, particularly with respect to the growing threat of climate change. Urban diagnostics have been prepared for both cities to document and inform this process. Based on secondary data analysis, and inputs from key government stakeholders, the city diagnostics begin by laying out the current risks, and vulnerabilities, as well as the city’s potential capacity to address these issues.
They also identify priority areas that present the greatest challenge for the city. Focusing specifically on these areas and targeting national and international funding sources, government stakeholders, policy makers, and non-profit organisations, they also identify future scenarios and opportunities to help reduce vulnerability and increase adaptive capacity in the cities
The two cities differ greatly in size, capacity and the risks and challenges posed by climate change. As a result, the process of mapping and planning for the future scenario is taking different journeys.
As the diagnostics explains, Bangalore has significant potential to play a major role in the future development of Karnataka and Southern India. However, to continue to leverage its knowledge-based economy, the city needs to address multiple challenges across a range of sectors. A large proportion of the city’s population lives in slum areas. The city is also growing rapidly, creating challenges in ensuring the provision of adequate infrastructure, housing, and basic services to meet the growing demands of its residents.
At the same time, Bangalore is facing a wide range of risks to its future growth and prosperity from issues such as water scarcity, climate change, damage to important natural habitats, and growing traffic congestion associated with private vehicle use. Unchecked, these issues could place a significant break on future economic growth and improvements on the quality of life of its residents. However, Bangalore has an opportunity to address these issues as part of its growth aspirations by looking at actions it can take now to future proof its development.
The diagnostic for Madurai has outlined that for stakeholders in the city, gaps in Madurai’s ‘blue-green infrastructure’ is perhaps the most pressing nexus of challenges the city needs to address to safeguard its long term future. The range of issues of particular importance include increasing demand for water resources, poor water distribution infrastructure, and contamination of existing supplies when combined could constrain the capability of Madurai to grow and prosper in the future as the needs of the city and wider region grow.
The severe water stress Madurai and the wider Vaigai Basin are already experiencing and the interconnectedness of Madurai’s ‘blue-green infrastructure’ mean that the city will be impacted by climate change. The direct impact of climate change on blue-green systems along with indirect impacts such as the spread of communicable diseases means that addressing this nexus of issues figures high in the list of priorities for city stakeholders.
The next phase of this project will focus on working in partnership with stakeholders to develop a City Action Plan (CAP) which identifies and develops transformative solutions to the priority issues identified in the diagnostics.