Climate Change Resilience in an Urbanizing Western Africa

Climate Change Resilience in an Urbanizing Western Africa

February 22nd 2008 | Dakar, Senegal

workshop locationHow is climate change likely to affect cities and the livelihoods of urban residents? in Western Africa? How can the institutions of these cities better adapt to it (Do for example specific institutions or social networks help the cities to adapt?) What does climate change mean for Western Africa cities and their inhabitants? More generally, how do cities of different scale (from peri-urban to large cities) in Western Africa adapt to climate change?

This workshop will be the platform for discussion on a wide range of drivers of current responses to climate change (with a special attention on the Western Africa experience). The workshop will focus particularly on several aspects of responses to climate change in cities that have emerged from discussions in past workshops from the UGEC project members: main actors in those responses; the role of different actors (public / private / informal sectors and international organizations); actions and involvement of actors in the urban responses to climate change and their effectiveness; deficiencies and resistance of institutions to respond to climate change; windows of opportunities to overcome them.

The workshop will explore whether mitigation and adaptation are part of local strategies to respond to climate change in the region. How are local decisions made in the selection of mitigation or adaptation actions internationally and how compatible those actions can be to the local urban development agenda? In short, the workshop will showcase what steps need to be taken to foster urban sustainability through responses to climate change.

Are current institutions in the region strong enough or robust enough to respond to climate change challenge; which institutions can take a leading role in these responses; what levels of cooperation can be expected and recommended among institutions operating at different administrative and political levels.

Can a partnership of scholars and practitioners help in the formulation of robust action models of climate change resilience for poor and vulnerable people? How can we help vulnerable urban populations assess threats and devise tools to respond to increased risks (tools such as land-use and zoning plans, building codes and enhanced plans in insurance financing for disasters).

Primary objectives

  • Strengthening the understanding of responses to climate change from the perspective of social science (covering theoretical and applied perspectives). The activity will (re)introduce invited researchers and practitioners from the region to social science methodologies related to the topic at hand.
  • The sharing of the international experiences and lessons in past and present responses to climate change in urban areas;
  • Strengthening of the science-policy interactions with the target of building better local responses to climate change in the region. The organizers will devise activities that will promote dialogue and the creation or partnerships between scientists and practitioners


We are targeting the first formal contribution from the UGEC project to the topic of the response capacity of cities in Western Africa to climate change The target is to highlight research already in progress in the region and to bring together practitioners and researchers in Dakar to exchange information and experiences and engage in knowledge building. The presence of the UGEC project will provide benefits to the local researchers since response to climate change can be assisted by international collaborations.

The added value for UGEC will be gaining knowledge – but it will be a two way learning process; all groups participating will benefit in the dialogue – the project we will be emphasizing the topic of interactions of urbanization and GEC – local communities will be more aware of the challenges and the responses available to deal with the challenges.

Tangible products


  • A background white paper on Dakar (case study?) and potentially other Western Africa cities; How has the city changed in the last 50 years? (This will help the SSC come prepared in the meeting).
  • A background paper on the responses of cities to climate change in other parts of the world
  • A background paper on the relationships among global environmental change, urbanization, and local development


  • The creation of a Western Africa network of researchers and practitioners on the interface of urbanization and global environmental change; the target of the network will be the sharing of information and the development of long-term collaborative activities (in conjunction with UGEC or independently).
  • The development of several joint publications (articles in leading journals, UGEC working papers) on the prospects and challenges in the urban responses to climate change.
  • The enhancement of media attention to urbanization and global environmental change issues in the region; we need better use of the media and to distill the products of the workshop to the media
  • The exploration of the possibility of development of new research proposals covering key or new areas springing from the discussions.


In English:
Climate Change Resilience in an Urbanizing Western Africa – Short Workshop Report
In French:
La résilience de l’Afrique de l’Ouest urbanisée face aux changements climatiques – Compte-rendu de l’atelier

Target audience

Researchers, national/local level practitioners, NGOs, other communities. Climate Change Resilience Workshop – List of Participants

Background material for participants

IPCC, Assessment Report 4 (AR4), Working Group 2 – Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, Chapter 9, Africa

IPCC Assessment Report 4 (AR4), Working Group 3 – Mitigation of Climate Change