International Conference 'Deltas in times of Climate Change'

Activity: Talk or presentationTalk or presentation at a conference


Poster Session. Adaptation strategies in urban areas. Climate change, urban dynamics and (lack of?) governance: a Latin American case.

Climate Change, Urban Dynamics and (lack of?) Governance: a Latin American case.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Latin America is the most urbanised region in the developing world. Covering a surface of around 20 million Km2 full of natural resources and biodiversity, it plays a relevant role for the planet (the Río de la Plata, the Amazon and the Orinoco carry into the Atlantic Ocean more than 30% of the renewable freshwater of the world). However, Latin America is very sensitive to climate variations and urban dynamics, and the smallest change can cause the biggest impact. This vulnerability is related to weak political, legal, economical and infrastructural frameworks together with income inequality, high poverty levels and population growth. The negative socio-economic scenario leads to an unsustainable use of the land and to a polarization of metropolitan areas. Considering that most of Latin American metropolitan regions are located on coastal territories, which are naturally sensitive to climate changes, it remains necessary to think about adaptation measures in terms of governance, to prevent climate variations in a context of cooperation and participation of multiple governmental and nongovernmental actors.

This paper will present as an example the case of the system of the Paraná Delta and the Estuary of the Río de la Plata, through which drains the second major hydrographic basin of South America –“Cuenca del Plata”‐, covering 3.1 million Km2 distributed in five countries (Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Uruguay and Paraguay). This example has been chosen because it is a high populated area with more than 22 million inhabitants which plays a vital role in the Hydrology and Economy of South American continent.

The methodology of approach will be based on the assumption that the Delta is a complex geological system that has been altered through history not only by natural processes but also by human activities and land appropriation modes. The interrelationships within the system need to be regulated by public policies in order to guarantee sustainability, life quality for the inhabitants and urban-economic development.

This presentation will describe climate change events that take place on the area such as floods, hails storms, increase of precipitations and sea level rise, land degradation, warming, salinisation and water stress, in order to study their impact on urban patterns. Then, the paper will explain the consequences of (planned and unplanned) urban development and human activities on the area (overexploitation of natural resources, changes in land uses and crops, increase of cattle productivity, etc.), and socio-economic vulnerabilities (overcrowding, widespread unemployment, lack of health and education services, inequity, etc.). The paper will also address the relevance of infrastructures and politic frameworks and will describe adaptation policies to deal with climate and urban variations in a context of demographic change.

Finally, the presentation will try to demonstrate the difficulties of designing and implementing urban adaptation measures in a context with lack of regional and metropolitan conscience, where politic-administrative fragmentation of the space leads to a polarization of resources, being an obstacle to the mitigation of impacts on territory and society in a context of governance.

Event titleInternational Conference 'Deltas in times of Climate Change'
Event typeConference