IDS working papers;315

Urban governance for adaptation : assessing climate change resilience in ten Asian cities

Published on 1 January 2009

Rapidly expanding urban settlements in the developing world face severe climatic
risks in light of climate change. Urban populations will increasingly be forced to
cope with increased incidents of flooding, air and water pollution, heat stress and
vector-borne diseases. This research, undertaken with a set of partner research
institutes, examines how to manage climate-related impacts in an urban context by
promoting planned and autonomous adaptation in order to by improve resilience in
a changing climate. It investigates the linkages between the characteristics of propoor
good urban governance, climate adaptation and resilience, and poverty and
sustainable development concerns. The paper develops an analytical framework
by combining governance literature with rapid climate resilience assessments
conducted in ten Asian cities. Based on this empirical data, we argue that a number
of key characteristics can be identified to assess and build urban resilience to
climate change in a way that reduces the vulnerability of the citizens most at risk
from climate shocks and stresses. These characteristics form the basis of a climate
resilient urban governance assessment framework, and include (1) decentralisation
and autonomy, (2) accountability and transparency, (3) responsiveness and
flexibility, (4) participation and inclusion and (5) experience and support. This
framework can help to assist in the planning, design and implementation of urban
climate change resilience-building programmes in the future.
Keywords: climate change; adaptation; urban governance; resilience; Asia.

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