Urban Climate Change Resilience
Wed, 24 May 2023

Urban Climate Change Resilience

Why in news? World Bank Group is planning to give a boost to urban climate resilience in developing and least developed countries .


  • Cities across the globe, particularly those with urban poor communities, face long-term challenges in ensuring the well- being of their inhabitants. These challenges are partly a result of direct and indirect impacts of climate change, and are often compounded by preexisting vulnerability.
  • Meanwhile, many of the cities and towns are located along coasts and rivers. Historically, this was to facilitate trade, but in the context of climate change, this leads to heightened exposure of people and their assets and livelihoods to hydro meteorological shocks and stresses.

What Is Urban Climate Change Resilience?

  • Urban resilience is the capacity of cities to function, so that the people living and working in cities—particularly the poor and vulnerable—survive and thrive no matter what stresses or shocks they encounter.
  • UCCR ( Urban Climate Change Resilience ) embraces climate change adaptation, climate change mitigation, and disaster risk management.

How climate change has impacted urban poor ?

  • Increased extreme events : Extreme events like floods, heat waves become cause of morbidity and mortality in cities . Most heat wave related deaths occur in cities like Chicago , as a result of urban heat island effect.
  • Socio economic impacts : Climate change leads to damaged infrastructure, scarcity of food and water, which further exacerbate social inequalities including poverty and hunger.
  • Inequality : Urban warming can not only damage cities as a whole but also contribute to income inequality. Urban heat stress is projected to cause an increase in labor losses exceeding 0.20% of the total account gross domestic product (GDP) per year by the 2050s
  • Vulnerable locations : Urban areas often situated in hazardous locations, along the coast, where residents increasingly find themselves at risk of climate related events. Eg. Bangkok
  • Population displacement: Extreme weather changes and disasters have displaced 59.1 million people across the world.
  • Urban conflicts : Urban expansion coupled with climate change processes accelerated armed conflict near urban centers. Eg Democratic Republic of Congo.

Impact on urban system due to changes in climatic variables

Impact of climate change on different sectors in urban areas


 Integrated Urban Planning Processes for Climate Resilience and Low Carbon Development 

  • Urban planning decisions taken now can shape-the well-being of city inhabitants and direct urban growth. Strategic urban planning directly supports urban resilience as a tool for sustainable development that:
    • directs land use and transportation systems.
    • reduces population vulnerability to climate change by facilitating improved access to resources, services and amenities
    • and generates sensitivity towards the environment whilst incorporating social and economic goals. 
  • For Indian cities , it is crucial to bridge the efforts by National Sustainable Habitat Mission (NSHM) and Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), as well as to involve multiple stakeholders to facilitate integrated, city- level planning.
  • Decentralised and improved local / urban governance is important for practical implementation of resilience and sustainability strategies.
  • Advanced mapping techniques such as LIDAR and GIS are being used in Miami and New York to ensure more efficient resource allocation and address climate change. GIS and other mapping tools can be used to analyse land use, urban forestry and urban agriculture as Important applications.


International Programmes supporting Urban Resilience




  • UN HABITAT’s Cities and Climate Change Initiative


Puts in place appropriate mitigation measures, emphasis on participatory processes, sound analysis, sustainable urban planning, good governance, responsive leadership, and practical initiatives at all levels.

  • Rockefeller Foundation’s Recent 100 Resilient Cities Program


Aims  not only to help individual cities become more resilient, but will facilitate the building of a global practice of resilience among governments, NGOs, the private sector, and individual citizens.

  • Global Resilience Partnership


It designs and advances knowledge, programs, policy and innovations that build resilience for the communities 

  • C 40

Global network of nearly 100 mayors of the world’s leading cities that are united in action to confront the climate crisis.


 India’s initiatives towards Urban climate resilience




Smart city mission

Programme to make cities sustainable, resilient , giving a decent quality of their life while applying Smart Solutions.

Future proofing Indian cities

Programme used existing evidences to identify risk and vulnerabilities related  climate and non climate stressors.

 Nature-based Solutions for Urban climate resilience

  • Embrace nature conservation norms (and principles).
  • Implemented alone or in an integrated manner with other solutions to societal challenges (e.g. technological and engineering solutions)
  • Determined by site-specific natural and cultural contexts that include traditional, local and scientific knowledge.
  • Produce societal benefits in a fair and equitable way, in a manner that promotes transparency and broad participation.
  • Maintain biological and cultural diversity and the ability of ecosystems to evolve over time
  • Recognise and address the trade-offs between the production of a few immediate economic benefits for development, and future options for the production of the full range of ecosystems services.

 Steps to Shield the Urban Poor from Climate Change:

  • Insurance Penetration: Insurance penetration in the country is very less i.e 4.21% only. A targeted insurance scheme that covers both house and household assets can boost resilience at the household level. The State may have to intervene to address the needs of those with the lowest purchasing power. Prime Minister Grih Bima Yojna for the poor must be instituted on the lines of Prime Minister Fasal Bima Yojna.
  • Minimising Response Time: Reducing the time between exposure to climate risk and the accrual of benefits is necessary whether from the State or insurance firms. The direct benefit transfer architecture can be leveraged, expanding its scope in response to the policy action.
  • Integrated approach in Key Areas: Strengthening the resilience of the urban poor will require integrated interventions across six policy areas:
    • social protection
    • public health
    • livelihood
    • housing
    • community infrastructure
    • urban planning
  • Pro-poor climate resilience solution: Three enabling factors:
    • capable, accountable, and responsive governance
    • climate and urban data
    • climate and urban finance need to be put in place to ensure that pro-poor climate resilience solutions promote transformational change to address the underlying drivers of vulnerability.
  • Data Capturing and Sharing: Satellite imagery could be used to identify flooded areas, and government databases of such localities could be used to identify beneficiaries. Through DBT Insurance claims could be directly transferred without the beneficiary raising a claim. This can be made possible by a new purpose-driven data-sharing agreement between the State and the industry.
  • Local Governments Role : Local governments play a vital role in providing basic services which are critical to improving the resilience of the urban poor. City officials can build resilience by mainstreaming risk reduction into urban management. A major challenge for local governments is financial dependence on state and central governments; hence, significant financial support is needed.
  • Integration with existing urban Planning: Climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction can be best addressed and sustained over time through integration with existing urban planning and management practices.

Conclusion : 

As extreme events become more frequent, newer mechanisms are needed for shock-proofing the poor. Sufficient response and synergies between the State’s policy imperatives and the insurance industry are necessary for easing the vulnerabilities of the poor. Leveraging technology and partnerships between State and industry can facilitate speedy and timely responses to climate calamities and build the resilience of the urban poor.


Where to use?

Paper I (Geography optional) : Applied climatology and urban climate

Paper II (Geography optional) : Urban development  and climate

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