Climate Change Impacts on Health: The Urban Poor in the World’s Megacities
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CitationMarolla, Cesar. 2013. Climate Change Impacts on Health: The Urban Poor in the World’s Megacities. Master's thesis, Harvard Division of Continuing Education.
AbstractThis research addresses the research question of whether climate change could disproportionately affect the health of the urban poor living in the world’s megacities. It seeks to explain the health consequences of climate change and the impacts on urban populations, how major cities should respond with preparedness and adaptation strategies to lessen impacts and collective actions that can be taken to mitigate the health risks associated with climate change.
Climate change is a major concern that is closely related to our good health. A population’s health is linked to the stability of the environment, and depends on the functioning of the world’s climate system. The effects of climate change on health will impact most populations in the next decades, and major cities around the world will gradually face the consequences. The increase in risk factors will put the lives and safety of billions of people in jeopardy and will affect the population unequally. Climate change will compound existing vulnerabilities, increase poverty levels, and affect the urban poor, as they typically live in the most vulnerable lands within cities and are at high risk from the impacts of climate change and natural disasters. Overcrowded living conditions, inaccessibility to safe infrastructure and poor health conditions make the urban poor highly vulnerable to climate change impacts(Baker, 2011c).
Climate change can change the pattern of diseases, mortality, human settlements, food, water, and sanitation. Increased temperatures, rising seas, and frequent incidence of severe storms are known and growing effects of climate change. These effects produce dangerous sanitary consequences and are known health risks (Jensen, 2007).
This research outlines a methodology for developing and implementing the Australian/New Zealand Risk Management Standard – AS/NZ ISO 31000 to climate change effects on populations. ISO 31000 supports a unique management approach to drive proactive steps to manage risk more effectively and to develop a united method to presenting adaptive strategies across cities around the world.
Adaptation and mitigation models that confront climate change impacts on health in urban populations, and particularly on the urban poor, who are the most vulnerable to climate variability, are crucial to minimize the disaster risks. As a result, disaster risk management becomes a fundamental component of climate change adaptation and mitigation program frameworks. This paper presents a strong business case that applies Risk Management ISO 31000, and recommends a systems view of risk assessment and proactive approach to risk management through a shared response at local and international levels.
This research uses the case study method to explore climate change health impacts on the urban poor in megacities and presents the examination of practical and theoretical cases, differentiated by geographic, demographic and socio-economic factors. It presents a case study of four megacities: New York, Beijing, Los Angeles and Rio de Janeiro. These cities have different economic and social driving forces and they are presently implementing strategies to combat climate change with different approaches and results. The evidence shows that a well-planned climate change risk-assessment and management plan modeled on the specific needs and conditions of each urban city will provide a viable advantage in order to combat climate change and its health impacts on the urban poor.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37366310