Year of selection 2012
Institution United Nations University Japan
The fallout from climate change will be felt acutely in our cities, which are expected to be especially vulnerable to its effects. While local governments are in a position to take steps allowing their community to adapt, different factors affect their success. Legal scholar Magali Dreyfus knew that little research had been devoted to the climate change issue from the perspective of law, and even less focusing on the local level. To learn more, she studied four urban locations—Tokyo, Paris, Phnom Penh, and Delhi—to discover what encourages city authorities to take legal action on the climate change front, what barriers they encounter, and what solutions have helped.
Although each context is unique, Dr. Dreyfus was able to create a framework of climate change strategies for cities. The local government of a place like Paris may enact laws that back up international climate commitments. On the other hand, officials in Phnom Penh, for example, preoccupied with other pressing development issues, may not even have climate change on their political agenda. However, projects carried out there with international agencies can provide an opportunity to address climate change objectives in the design of basic urban infrastructure, like water services. In this way, the city is still able to prepare. The conclusions that Dr. Dreyfus can draw from such best practices will provide local authorities with the tools to anticipate the effects of climate change and make a difference in their own town.
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