Urban Planning Students Work with UN-Habitat to Research Urban Climate Law in Africa

Ana Paula Pimentel Walker, associate professor in urban and regional planning, and the students of her course Comparative Environmental Planning have worked closely with UN-Habitat and country experts on researching the climate change laws of Zimbabwe, Namibia, and Malawi. Students of the course have published three reports on the respective countries as a part of the Urban Law for Resilient and Low Carbon Urban Development project.

The Urban Climate Law Module aims to support countries in building legal frameworks that can effectively implement the Paris Agreement and address their environmental issues in an urban context. The reports assess existing urban planning legislation and identify the climate priorities of each country to create a customized legal outline for the country’s climate action.

Pimentel Walker has worked previously with UN-Habitat on the climate law report for Colombia in a 2021 capstone course. Following the same legal methodologies as the Colombia report, Comparative Environmental Planning students worked in teams to research and draft the reports for each country. The research was coordinated between the students, various stakeholders in the public and private sectors of Zimbabwe, Namibia, and Malawi, and UN-Habitat’s specialists.

Nana-Yaw Andoh, a doctoral student in urban and regional planning, who helped the class finalize the three reports, shares, “The objective of the project was to look at the potential interrelationships between existing policies and urban planning and its combined impact on climate change. Using the ‘Climate Toolbox’ that the UN had developed, the students in the class made recommendations for how existing laws and policies could be enhanced to address the threats posed by climate change. The main takeaway is that cities in Africa (specifically the ones we studied) have an opportunity to make positive strides by actively participating in climate change action through climate-smart urban planning supported by appropriate laws and policies.”

The Zimbabwe, Namibia, and Malawi reports are now published as a part of UN-Habitat’s Urban Climate Law Module.