With and for the poor,” the planning key to protect urban dwellers from climate change, says UN expert on World Habitat Day

Low income dwellers are often located in the most hazard prone areas within cities. They lack the basic infrastructure and services necessary to protect them from environmental disasters. “Cities lacking in protective infrastructure are generally more susceptible to climate related disasters, with many having experienced the highest number of flood-related deaths and injuries in recent years,” says Rolnik.

“Land and housing for the poor should be placed in the center of urban planning in order to ensure the sustainability of cities”, warns the UN expert, further emphasizing the urgent need for action to reduce the vulnerability of urban dwellers to the impact of climate change. “Concerned communities need to be consulted and be allowed to participate in the decision-making process.”

For the Special Rapporteur, “access to affordable and well located land needs to be guaranteed to avoid further unplanned settlement expansions or settling the poor far away from income earning or human development opportunities.”

In celebrating UN Habitat Day, the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing calls upon all states to reflect on how to improve urban planning so as to ensure that the most vulnerable are protected from the effects of climate change.

Raquel Rolnik (Brazil) was appointed as Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination in this context by the United Nations Human Rights Council, in May 2008. As Special Rapporteur, she is independent from any government or organization and serves in her individual capacity. An architect and urban planner, Rolnik has extensive experience in the area of housing and urban policies.