Cities in India can no longer ignore the challenges posed by rapid urbanisation and vulnerability to the impacts of climate change, which together are stretching the limits of urban infrastructure and other urban systems, impacting the city’s basic services.
Kolkata has its particular problems and is currently considered to be one of the most vulnerable urban areas due to its exposure to flooding and other potential natural disasters. The city’s Vision 2020 Strategy aims at achieve economic growth in a “resource efficient” and “eco-friendly” manner and to “provide social amenities, community facilities and securities to all”. There are now 144 Wards in 16 Boroughs within KMC’s area; three of these are new wards that have been added relatively recently. Each ward has an elected Councillor, who is responsible for the well-being of the ward residents and for helping to ensure that municipal services within the ward are run efficiently and effectively. It was felt that there was limited understanding of issues relating to climate change adaptation and relevant mitigation needs among the city’s key decision makers. Capacity building of local municipal officials and locally elected representatives was identified as a critical first step towards building city resilience, as these are the individuals who can influence key decisions, as well as direct public behaviour towards mainstream low carbon and climate resilient interventions.
KMC has already been actively using social media platforms such as WhatsApp and Facebook for disseminating KMC initiatives and gathering feedback on the quality of municipal service delivery.