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Urban local governments and human health in a climate of change

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Climate change, it need hardly be said, is of global concern. In Australia, as elsewhere, the fundamental nature of the climate change challenge is reflected in the emerging social consensus that something needs to be done. Slowly, hesitantly even, public authorities including federal, state and territory governments are committing themselves to climate mitigation and adaptation frameworks. Local government's response to climate change requires a dual approach that cuts across strategies that address the mitigation of potential climate change threats as well as strategies that focus on adaptation. Importantly for the health of local communities, local governments and the local communities they represent should be viewed as the most appropriate level of action for adaptation strategies. At the International Healthy Cities conference held in Belfast in October 2003,1 it was argued that local action is an important ingredient for successful healthy city programmes. As argued by Wilbanks and Kates (1999), this is especially important for climate change; they note that, while climate change is occurring at broad regional levels, the consequences are being felt most acutely at the local level. Despite this there does appear to be reluctance on the part of many local governments to address adaptation programmes seriously in their planning and operational policies and programmes.
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Keywords: change; climate; governments; health; human; local; urban

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 13, 2009

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