SUED and COP26:UK-Kenyan collaboration towards climate-smart cities

Updated: Nov 8

The Sustainable Urban Economic Development Programme (SUED) is working closely with 12 Kenyan municipalities to screen for both future and current impacts to climate change, integrating climate mitigation and adaptation into urban economic planning. SUED emphasizes capacity building of local governments to develop and implement socially inclusive and sustainable plans and strategies. This approach helps municipalities attract investment for critical climate-resilient infrastructure and value chain projects and reduces climate induced socio-economic vulnerabilities. Furthermore, SUED supports municipalities to implement a participatory approach in the creation of climate-resilient strategies for their urban economic development.

Delivering on the SDGs

Within the framework of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11 aims to make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. Through SUED, the UK Government is supporting 12 Kenyan municipalities to meet this goal. SUED’s work has yielded nine out of twelve climate smart urban economic plans in the past three years. These nine plans, the first-ever municipal-level economic plans in Kenya, provide actionable economic strategies that merge climate mitigation and adaptation with economic growth and development.

Integrating Climate adaptation into urban economic planning

Many resources have been developed to help local governments integrate climate resilience into city planning, including UN Habitat’s guidebook ‘Integrating Climate change into city development strategies’. While they have helped government officials determine how to plan for climate change, few offer a long-term path approach that marries economic priorities with building climate resilience. SUED is working at both county and municipal level with an approach that integrates factors including demographics, economy, infrastructure, environment, and climatic conditions, into urban economic planning.

Below are some of the areas where SUED has helped the municipalities integrate climate adaptation best practices in urban planning:

Land Use

In our recent blog, we shared how SUED has worked closely with municipalities to optimise their land use in a manner that enhances the utilisation of their urban spaces while incorporating environmental considerations and reducing their climate vulnerability. By working closely with government officials to see how they can plan their physical land use to adapt to the effects of climate change, we have helped identify possibilities to minimise their exposure to climate hazards. For example, our work in Eldoret municipality was aimed at developing an action plan that would help the municipality to introduce climate-resilient infrastructure along the River Sosiani to address seasonal flooding that destroys property, livelihoods and threatens the economic development of the municipality. The plan includes a land management approach that reduces the damage and disruption from flooding.

Stormwater Management

Critical to SUED’s work is the need to identify practices within the municipalities that have demonstrated their resilience and adaptability to climate-change related events such as more frequent and more intense flooding. In Mandera municipality, we have helped the local officials identify ways in which stormwater management infrastructure could be improved. Our approach included water management and water efficiency measures such as effective rainwater collection, storm water retention and harvesting techniques as well as wastewater recycling. These sustainable water cycle solutions are helping Mandera municipality adapt to climate change.

Solid Waste Management

SUED advocates for municipalities to enhance their solid waste reduction initiatives as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from open burning of waste. In Kerugoya-Kutus municipality, our team has integrated a strong resource efficiency model within its urban economic planning support. This entails the minimisation of solid waste by establishing a circular economy that encourages the utilisation of waste products in other economic activities. Further, SUED has helped the municipalities develop a solid waste management strategy that will ensure waste is collected and transferred to designated dumpsites for recycling. In doing so, the programme is introducing a waste to value (W2V) aspect through which municipalities are able to process solid waste into commercial outputs enabling sustainable sanitation solutions.

Environmental Planning

Our team embeds environmental assessments in urban economic development processes to better understand the municipal context and the climate-risk factors. By understanding various ecological zones and how conducive their environment is, we are better able to design value-chain specific initiatives. These initiatives incorporate insights on which economic activities would be the most useful for the area while adapting to the changing climate conditions, in an effort to ensure that the value chain projects identified are climate-resilient. In Eldoret, the programme proposed urban environment improvements that were geared towards improving the agri-processing practices within the municipality.

Local Economic Development Strategies

Urban sustainability and climate change are interlinked. The creation of income generating activities must be responsibly done to ensure that, as value-chain projects are identified, their sustainability is safeguarded. We have supported the municipalities to incorporate climate vulnerability assessments within development processes. The adaptation measures that result from these assessments and developed are designed to ensure urban resilience. In Eldoret, Kerugoya-Kutus and Mandera, SUED ensured that the infrastructure projects identified are adaptive to climate change. In Isiolo, the development of climate-resilient infrastructure along its river will help provide a sustainable flood-management solution.

SUED is working with municipalities in Kenya to create strategic approaches that will help minimise damage and reduce vulnerability for current and future climate risks, by having in place sustainable urban plans that integrate climate adaptation planning.