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Government of Uruguay launches new project to boost resilience of cities and reach targets outlined in Paris Agreement

With UNDP support and GCF finance, Uruguay works toward sustainable cities, increasing integration, adaptation, and resilience to climate change

24 May 2018, Uruguay – The “Integrating adaptation into cities, infrastructure and local planning in Uruguay Project” (NAP-Cities) was launched May 24, 2018 under the leadership of Uruguay’s Ministry of Housing, Territorial Planning and Environment (MVOTMA), with support from the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The launching ceremony for the US$2.7 million GCF-financed project included the participation of MVOTMA Minister Eneida de León, National Director of Land Management José Freitas, National Director of Climate Change Ignacio Lorenzo, and UNDP Resident Representative Mireia Villar Forner.

The NAP-Cities project is just one of the various initiatives Uruguay is undertaking to increase sustainability in its cities. Over the course of three years, the country will take measures to reduce vulnerability to the impacts of climate change by building adaptive capacity and resilience in cities, infrastructure and urban environments, facilitating the integration of climate change adaptation into relevant new and existing policies, programmes and activities. The project will focus in particular on development planning processes and strategies that apply to cities and local planning.

At the launching ceremony, De Leon highlighted the NAP-Cities project as an initiative that will build on government policies for sustainable urban development, social inclusion, employment and greater environmental care in a nation where over 93 percent of the population lives in urban areas.

“The ministry, and a collection of other institutions, are undertaking a series of actions to develop a rights-based policy framework for urban sustainability, that prioritizes and guarantees the right to housing in cities. This entails continuing the fight against poverty, social exclusion and spatial segregation, and improving the environmental dimension of urban development and its response to climate change and variability,” De Leon said.

The process will be led by the MVOTMA and developed under the guidance of the Land Management Advisory Commission (COAOT) and the National Climate Change Response System (SRNCC), with support from the GCF and UNDP.

“The challenge we face here is using the NAP construction, an analytical and costing process, so that we may derive the necessary tools for an effective Plan,” Mireia Villar Forner, the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, said.

Forner also highlighted the incorporation of the gender dimension into the plan, considering it as variable in adaptation options. “We talk about changes in the climate, but also in social inclusion, in equality, and in family resilience,” she said.

Jose Freitas, Uruguay’s National Director of Land Management, spoke regarding the context in which the plan is being developed. He explained that this initiative “seeks to capitalize, systematize, and consolidate a series of experiences in adaptive urban design and planning, which are already being carried out in the nation.”

Among the measures currently being implemented in Uruguay by various institutions – which will later be replicated at a greater scale – are early warning systems for floods, flood risk maps, redistribution and restoration of coastal ecosystems, rearrangement and restoration of coastal ecosystems, local land management plans that include climate considerations, and relocation of flood-prone housing. The new measures that will begin to be developed include risk mapping and local management plans that will address climate change, adaptation retrofitting for medium-risk housing, and designing resilient infrastructure.

National Director of Climate Change Ignacio Lorenzo noted that the process will include identifying the main weaknesses to climate change adaptation in cities, and will also seek to build capacities in communities and public and private institutions, and to integrate these measures into urban design and planning processes.

“A significant milestone is having the NAP-Cities and infrastructure document towards the end of this administration, which was the international expectation set by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Furthermore, this process is designed to transform our management models, our work processes, which, among other things, had to do with beginning to examine the emerging threats of climate change in the planning processes,” said Lorenzo.

This is the beginning of an inclusive process, rooted in the Sustainable Development Goals and Paris Agreement, which is why public, private, academic, and civil institutions are invited to join and coordinate their actions with these efforts, “so that through this three-year process we can collaborate to make our cities more sustainable and adapted, for our citizens and the generations to come,” said De Leon.

Source: MVOTMA. Available in Spanish