Recent IPCC reports have addressed the issue of urban land under the topic of industry, settlement, and society (IPCC, 2007). Since reviews of human settlements from the perspective of climate change have been primarily focused on climate change mitigation, topics of land cover and use, urbanization, land planning and management, land markets, property rights, and fiscal and legal issues, which will be key to responding to impacts of climate change, have not received extensive coverage. We argue in this chapter that it is important to focus on urban land as a sector or as the overarching framework in order to recognize the challenges of government coordination and integration necessary to address climate change. In incorporating urban land in climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts one would be able to include a fundamental set of strategies, such as policies concerning land conversion, land tenure, and urban land markets that have not been fully addressed.
This chapter provides an introduction to the role of urban land in climate change, discusses the potential for urban planning and management to address climate change challenges, and reviews current planning efforts focused on climate change. It is organized into several sections. This introductory section develops several key concepts, such as recent trends in urbanization, and discusses their relation to urban land and climate change. The second section focuses on urban form, impacts on ecosystems, including the urban heat island effect, and discusses the vulnerability of informal and slum settlements to climate change.