Guide Released by World Bank and UN to Show City Planners The Climate Change Vulnerability of Their City

Practical help is at hand for city planners and administrators around the world who are attempting to come to terms with the increased risks that many major urban centers now face as a result of climate change.

“Climate Resilient Cities” is a joint World Bank and UN “primer” aimed at helping cities to identify their level of vulnerability to the impacts of climate change and how to learn from the example of other cities to reduce their risks.

Discussed today at an eight-nation video-conference linking the primer’s authors in Washington with cities in the Asia-Pacific region, the report helps identify the specific climate change-related issues affecting cities and guides city administrators to develop plans for reducing the consequences of natural disasters while also adapting to likely future climate events.

While the primer focuses on the vulnerabilities of East Asian cities, it emphasizes sound practices that are applicable around the world. Examples from Albuquerque in the United States which has instituted a new energy efficiency guide for new buildings and Makati City in the Philippines which is aiming to reduce vehicular traffic by building more elevated walkways and green spaces offer practical approaches that have worked. Another of the Primer’s practical applications enables cities to decide whether or not they are in a climate “hot spot” and then evaluate the consequences on their cities’ key infrastructure of factors such as temperature rise, change in precipitation and sea-level rise.

“The degree of impact from which cities suffer from climate change will ultimately depend on the actions and initiatives local governments take to build a more climate-resilient city,” said Jim Adams, Vice President for the World Bank for the East Asia and Pacific Region.

“City officials need to understand characteristics that make their cities vulnerable to disaster risk and develop a strategy to deal with it. They need to “climate-proof” the cities to protect the urban population and property from extreme weather induced by climate change.”

With more people moving into cities each month, East Asia’s urban population is expected to double by 2030. Many of the region’s “mega cities,” are also at the center of economic growth. But with climate change bringing a rise in sea levels, East Asian cities are facing greater risk from storm surges and annual flooding. A projected one-meter rise in sea levels could lead to a two percent loss of Gross Domestic Product as a result of shortages in fresh water, impacts on agriculture and fisheries, disruption of tourism, and reduced energy security. China, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam are expected to be most affected by rising sea levels.

“There are a number of actions that can be taken to reduce vulnerability to natural hazards and adapt to climate change,” said Salvano Briceno, Director of the UN’s International Strategy for Disaster Reduction – the joint authors of the report. “ThisPrimer is a useful tool to advance the understanding in cities of the linkages between disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation.”

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