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The effects of urbanization and climate change are converging in dangerous ways that seriously threaten the world’s environmental, economic and social wellbeing.

Millions of the urban poor already live in low‐lying, flood‐prone areas, or cling to precarious hillside settlements at risk of landslides. Climate change, coupled with ongoing rapid urbanization and inadequate urban management capacity, will make many of those existing problems worse. The urban poor in developing countries thus are among the populations that are most vulnerable to climate change.

Cities also emit large quantities of greenhouse gases. Local action is indispensable for the realization of national climate change commitments agreed through international negotiations. Over the past few years, cities have attracted more attention on the international and national stages. Policy‐makers are realizing that global warming and its effects can be best addressed only when local authorities are empowered to act in ways that are broadly aligned with global and national priorities for addressing climate change.

Cities are beginning to address the challenge of climate change. Local authorities are assessing risks and acting to increase community resilience and climate‐proof key facilities. At the same time cities are setting targets for reducing their emissions and coming up with innovative strategies to meet those goals. A number of mature technologies exist that can reduce GHG emissions in cities in a cost‐effective manner. But to achieve maximum results cities need partners that empower them to take effective action.