Cities are particularly vulnerable to climate change because of the large number of people living in relatively concentrated areas and the complexity of the ‘hard’ systems that interact within them: infrastructure networks to transport people and goods, communications systems, water and energy distribution, sewers and waste removal systems, food production, housing and urban green spaces, etc. These hard systems are increasingly at risk of failure or damage by climate change impacts.

Cities' ‘soft’ systems are also affected: Climate change impacts exert pressure on governance structures, management procedures - in particular decision-making processes - and the complex web of social and cultural interactions. 

Many cities in South and Southeast Asia are particularly vulnerable to climate change.

In the Philippines, a large proportion of the population lives on archipelagos and in low-lying river deltas, which are particularly susceptible to sea-level rise and flooding. 

In India, the expected increase in extreme rainfall events and changes to seasonal monsoon patterns will increase the risk of major floods and the likelihood of drought, with severe consequences for the health and livelihoods of millions of people. Despite such threats, adaptation planning and research is still in its infancy, particularly at the local level.

The project

Climate change is a global phenomenon but its impacts are localised. Taking this into account, the AsianCitiesAdapt partnership worked with the local governments in the eight cities shown in the map below and carried out a cyclical adaptation management process based on sound adaptation research, which integrated local adaptation needs into local governments’ everyday operations.

The project had two dimensions: At city level, each local government involved – together with a group of key stakeholders – assessed its main climate change vulnerabilities using scientific data and scenarios and developed a local adaptation strategy. At the scientific level, knowledge derived from local assessment processes and surveys with cities and other stakeholders contributed to a more complete adaptation research.

In order to share the insights gained by the eight target cities in India and the Philippines, several national knowledge transfer workshops were organised. In addition, briefing notes, case studies, a primer and a video reflect the experiences and lessons learned from the project activities and make them available to a broader audience.

Asian Cities Adapt