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Climate Action Programme

Addressing the effects of climate change for business and society

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Changing Cities

Climate resilience strategy and planning for cities

Cities are complex intersections of ecological, structural, socioeconomic, and governance systems. All of these systems form the source of both a city’s resilience and vulnerability to climate change.

Without a solid system for identifying resilience strategies, the twin challenges of urbanization and climate change threaten to create a perilous combination.

Driven by systems thinking we provide cities with better means for addressing potential extreme weather events and climate change-related hazards, helping them guide planning, policies and investment strategies that reduce vulnerabilities and create value by transforming urban areas.

An effective and holistic resilience strategy against climate change yields ecological, structural, socioeconomic, and governance benefits. We therefore believe a systems-based approach charts the best course towards building resilience in urban areas:

  • It reveals how city systems are interconnected and helps understand these connections as cities evolve;
  • It reveals interactions between reinforcing and balancing feedback loops; and
  • It accounts for the delay from actions to results through multiple decision makers.

Our methodology is based on a five-step approach to: (i) understand climate-related hazards, (ii) compile an inventory of the system, (iii) conduct a vulnerability assessment, (iv) identify, evaluate and prioritize resilience-building measures, and (v) implement the prioritized measures.

In our urban resilience assessments we conduct participatory simulation exercises together with the relevant stakeholders in order to build a shared understanding of the urban system and to identify and avoid counterproductive effects of resilience-building measures. Our assessments provide:

  • Scale, complexities, and uncertainties associated with cities and climate change-related hazards;
  • Assessment of aspects that will strengthen long-term resilience from an integrated systems perspective; 
  • Evaluation of co-benefits of implementing resilience strategies; and
  • Guidance on planning, policy and investment strategies.

Download our free position paper to learn more.

Climate resilient cities graphic