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Urban Resilience Planning

Planning for urban resilience, and specifically adaptation, is well under way in a number of cities around the world. This section gives a snapshot of some of the current approaches of cities, examples of how planning is being undertaken, and technical documents on specific areas of urban adaptation practice.

Lessons from Sandy - Federal Policies to Build Climate-Resilient Coastal Regions


Type: Policy Focus Report

Authors: Robert Pirani and Laura Tolkoff

Publisher: Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and Regional Plan Association 

Date: 2014

This report identifies a set of policies, regulations, and administrative practices that federal agencies can adopt to help coastal regions become more resilient/able to recover quickly from natural disasters while at the same time reducing future risk in the face of climate change. The research draws on two convenings of experts on climate resilience. The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and Regional Plan Association organized these gatherings in June 2013 and January 2014 in order to analyze the response to Hurricane Sandy, identify a national strategy for climate resilience, and assess the role of federal agencies in supporting climate adaptation.

This report focuses on how federal policies can support climate resilience, and has a lot of useful information that can help cities and states navigate through disaster recovery and rebuilding processes. More...

Chinese and German city policies -
Analysed in the cities of Chengdu, Bonn, Wuhan and Duisburg


Authors: Sigrid Lindner, Lina Li and Astrid Müller

Publisher: Ecofys

Date: June 2014

This report analyzes the low carbon activities of the four cities participating in Germanwatch and E3G's “Sino-European Partnership on Low Carbon and Sustainable Urban Development”: Bonn and Duisburg in Germany and their Chinese partner cities Chengdu and Wuhan. The resulting assessments are being used to develop policy recommendations for the respective cities, highlighting best practice and lessons to be learnt from the other cities. More...

For more information on the partnership visit the project website.

Climate Change Plans and Infrastructure in Asian Cities. A Survey of Plans and Priorities


Type: Study

Publisher: Clean Air Initiative for Asian Cities Center (CAI-Asia) and Cities Development Initiative for Asia (CDIA).

Date: June 2012


Climate change is an urgent issue that affects cities and its people across the globe. Growing cities in Asia are faced with one of the biggest environmental challenges in urban development. This study asks three questions: Is climate change given priority in policies, plans and investments of Asian cities? Where does the focus lie in relation to climate change mitigation and adaptation? Are there already infrastructure investments made or planned in relation to climate change? More...

Urban Climate Adaptation and Leadership - From Conceptual Understanding to Practical Action


Type: Paper

Autor: JoAnn Carmin, David Dodman, Eric Chu

Date: December 2013


The impacts of climate change are expected to create numerous challenges for cities. This report synthesizes key points raised in a series of discussions among "adaptation leaders" from fourteen cities around the world. Critical issues for urban adaptation that emerged from the discussions include the need for political commitment at multiple levels of government, information and data as a basis for understanding potential risks and vulnerabilities, meaningful and effective stakeholder engagement shaped by local contexts, and sustained financial and staff resources that are sensitive to urban variability. More...

Environment and Urbanization: Towards resilience and transformation of cities


Type: Journal [open access]

Issue: Volume 25, Issue 2

Date: October 2013


This is the first of two issues of the Journal on what builds resilience to climate change in cities. It includes case studies of climate change adaptation in Durban, Dar es Salaam and Rosario, and others that address flood risks in Surat and Bursa. It also has papers that discuss shared learning for resilience thinking across 10 cities in Asia; the political underpinnings of resilience; methods for integrated assessments of climate impacts, adaptation and mitigation as applied to London and Durban; and governing urban climate change adaptation in China. All content is open access. More...

Building Urban Resilience: Principles, Tools, and Practice


Type: Publication

Editor: Abhas K. Jha, Todd W. Miner, Zuzana Stanton-Geddes

Publisher: World Bank

Date: 2013


This publication is a practical resource designed to give planners and practitioners an intuitive way to build elements of resilience into urban governance and planning. The report guides readers in finding ways to avoid the mistakes of the past and build resilience into urban development through critical investments and integrated disaster risk management measures. More...

Cities and Flooding. A Guide to Integrated Urban Flood Risk Management for the 21st Century

Type: Primer

Author: Abhas Jha, Robin Bloch, Jessica Lamond

Publisher: World Bank

Date: 2012


The guide gives forward-looking operational guidance on how to manage the risk of floods in a quickly transforming urban environment and changeable climate. Illustrated with over fifty case studies, a series of “how-to” sections and a set of guiding policy principles, the guide embodies the state-of-the art on integrated urban flood risk management. Website with chapter summaries, translations and download here

Building Urban Resilience in East Asia; in Eye on Asia and Pacific

Type: Primer

Author: Abhas Jha, Henrike Brecht

Publisher: World Bank

Date: 2011


This short note outlines the numerous actions that policy-makers in East Asia can take in the short, medium and long-term to build resilient cities-that can withstand and continue to function effectively aftershocks by incorporating the risks of natural hazards and climate change. Download the report here

Climate Resilient Cities: A Primer on Reducing Vulnerabilities to Disasters

Type: Primer

Author: Neeraj Prasad, Federica Ranghieri, Fatima Shah
Zoe Trohanis, Earl Kessler, Ravi Sinha

Publisher: World Bank

Date: 2009


The primer is a first of its kind guide for city officials on how to organize themselves proactively to prepare for climate change and hazards by assessing their risks and vulnerabilities and learning from global experience. More...

Using Ecological Theory to Guide Urban Planting Design: An adaptation strategy for climate change

Type: Paper

Author: MaryCarol Hunter

Publisher: Landscape Journal 30(2): 173-193

Date: 2011

The paper presents an adaptation strategy to accommodate the impact of changing climate on the health of urban greenspace.  The strategy applies principles of ecological theory to the choice of species for urban planting designs. The end goal is protection of urban ecosystem functions and services even when climate disturbance changes the cast of interacting community members. The crux of the adaptation strategy is a focus on ecological resilience rather than matching specific plant species to specific predictions of climate change models.

Making cities resilient report 2012

Type: Report

Publisher: United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction Secretariat (UNISDR)

Date: 2012

This report provides a snapshot of resilience building activities at the local level and identifies trends in the perceptions and approaches of local governments toward disaster risk reduction. It examines factors that enable urban disaster risk reduction activities, including how the global campaign Making Cities Resilient – “My City is Getting Ready!” founded by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) in conjunction with over twenty partners has helped improve local knowledge of disaster risk and support capacity building.

Urban adaptation to climate change in Europe

Type: Report

Publisher: European Environment Agency

Date: May 2012

The new report by the European Environment Agency (EEA) underlines that urban areas are particularly at risk from the impacts of climate change. The report states that cities across Europe should start to invest in adaptation measures now to avoid higher costs in the future.

How Local Resilience Creates Sustainable Societies: Hard to Make, Hard to Break

Type: Book

Author: Philip Monaghan

Publisher: Earthscan (Routledge)

Date: February 2012

This applied research looks at how to prevent the high cost of social and environmental failure arising from the current flawed model, with the banking crisis just the latest example. A key focus is on the interface between the green economy and sustainable urban development. The book is available to pre-order direct from the publisher and leading book stores including Amazon.

Role of Policy and Institutions in Local Adaptation to Climate Change: Case studies on responses to too much and too little water in the Hindu Kush Himalayas

Type: Report

Authors: Neera Shrestha Pradhan (ICIMOD), Vijay R. Khadgi (ICIMOD), Lisa Schipper (SEI), Nanki Kaur (IIED), Tighe Geoghegan (IIED)

Publisher: ICIMOD

Date: March 2012

This study focuses on how policies and institutions can strengthen community adaptation strategies, specifically to climate-related water stress and floods. Building on the findings of an earlier study, it examines four key themes: small-scale water management and the role of local institutions; agro-forestry diversification and intensification; infrastructural mitigation measures, including embankments to adapt to floods; and livelihood diversification, including migration. More...

Responding to the Urban Climate Change Challenge

Type: Report

Author: ACCCRN

Publisher: ISET

Date: November 2009

This report outlines the work of the Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network, and gives detail of urban resilience planning in 10 Asian Cities. More...

Planning for Urban Climate Change Resilience

Type: Working Paper

Author: Tyler, S. Reed, S. Macclune, K. Chopde, S.

Publisher: ISET and ACCCRN

Date: December 2010

This comprehensive document draws on the Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network's experience, and outlines their approach to Resilience Planning. The document contains an overarching framework, methodology and approach, and reviews how resilience planning has been developed in 8 Asian cities. More...

Opportunities for Private Sector Engagement in Urban Climate Change Resilience Building

Type: Report

Author: Intellecap

Date: November 2009

There is a need for vast amounts of funding to build urban resilience, and the private sector must play an important role. This is the argument of this report, supported by the Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network. More...

Urban Risk Reduction and Adaptation: How to promote resilient communities and adapt to increasing disasters and changing climactic conditions

Type: Book

Author: Christine Wamsler

Publisher: VDM Verlag

Date: May 2009

Place: Saarbrücken 


This book demonstrates the link between incomplete urban planning approaches and lack of resilience to disasters.  Of particular interest to professionals working in development planning, the book contributes a comprehensive adaptation framework. More...

Building Safer Communities. Risk governance, spatial planning and responses to natural hazards

Type: Book

Editor: Urbano Fra Paleo

Publisher: IOS Press

Date: November 2009

This book, a compilation of work from seventeen disciplines, provides insight into how spatial planning can contribute to risk governance in hazard-prone areas. More...

Planning Climate Resilient Cities: Early Lessons from Early Adapters

Type: Paper

Author: Carmin, J. et al

Date: June 2009

This paper, prepared for the 5th Urban Research Symposium, tries to assess progress so far in adapting to climate change, focusing on two cities in the global south: Durban, South Africa and Quito, Ecuador. It analyses the drivers and factors that are determining the nature of adaptation strategies and activities. More...


Urban Governance for Adaptation: Assessing Climate Change Resilience in Ten urban Cities

Type: Working Paper

Author: Tanner,T. Mitchell, T. Polack, E. Guenther, B.

Publisher: Institute of Development Studies

Date: January 2009 (Number 315)

The IDS have produced five characteristics for good urban resilience planning, based on research by them and their partners in 10 South and South Eastern Asian Cities. The five characteristics are built into a framework that can be applied by other cities. More...

Infrastructure, Engineering and Climate Change Adaptation - ensuring services in an uncertain future.

Type: Report

Author: Engineering the Future

Publisher: Royal Academy of Engineering

Date: February 2011

This UK-focused report, commissioned by Government Department Defra, analyses the vulnerability of UK infrastructure to climatic changes, and recommends responses to both long-term and acute short-term changes. More..