Cities around the world are facing challenges brought about by rapid increases in population and geographic spread, which places greater pressure on infrastructure and services. Climate change impacts, including rising sea level, more frequent and severe storms, coastal erosion and declining freshwater sources will likely exacerbate these urban issues, in particular in poor and vulnerable communities that lack adequate infrastructure and services.
Globally, the impacts of climate change on urban areas have received less attention than on rural areas where poverty levels are higher and populations depend directly on climate-sensitive livelihoods. However, more than 50% of the world’s population currently lives in cities. By 2050, this figure is expected to increase to 70%, or 6.4 billion people, and Asian cities are likely to account for more than 60% of this increase. Urban areas are the economic powerhouses that support both the aspirations of the poor and most national economies. Furthermore, urban residents and the economic activity they generate depend on systems that are fragile and often subject to failure under the combination of climate and development pressures. If urban systems fail, the potential direct and indirect impacts of climate change on urban residents in general, on poor and vulnerable populations, and on the wider economy is massive. As a result, work on urban climate resilience is of critical importance in overall global initiatives to address the impacts of climate change.
The Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network (ACCCRN) works at the intersection of climate change, urban systems and social vulnerability to consider both direct and indirect impacts of climate change in urban areas.