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Climate Change and Vulnerability of People in Cities of Asia



January, 2024


  • Helen Scott


More than half the world’s population lives in urban areas and urbanisation trends are growing, with Asian cities at the heart of urban growth. Cities play an important role in the climate change arena, both as significant contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, and also centres of innovative activity for reducing emissions. However, cities are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. An understanding of their vulnerabilities, and how to reduce these vulnerabilities is imperative. This paper explores the sources of greenhouse emissions in Asian cities and the particular vulnerabilities of Asian cities to the impacts of climate change. Through a review of policies and field-based studies undertaken in two Asian megacities, Jakarta (Indonesia) and Mumbai (India), local community vulnerabilities are explored and innovative adaptive measures identified. The predominant climate related focus for communities researched in both cities was flood mitigation, where community adaptation included such things as raising the floor level of houses, storing clothing in plastic bags on high shelves, and collective community cleaning of rubbish from canals before the monsoon season arrived. However, many of these residents were placed at greater risk of future climate change, due to such things as lack of properly executed and enforced urban planning, poor provision and maintenance of basic services such as water supply, sanitation and waste collection, and poor disaster risk reduction planning. City governments have a role to play in reducing both greenhouse emissions, and vulnerability to climate change impacts, through activating “levers”, such as planning, regulation, purchasing power, network facilitation, education and their civic leadership role. Key words: cities, urban, climate adaptation, climate mitigation


Lead Author: Helen Scott ICLEI Team: Steve Gawler, Scott Knights Snigdha Garg, Ramiz Khan, Bedoshruti Sadhukhan, Sunandan Tiwari URDI Indonesia: Wahyu Mulyana


Asia-Pacic Human Development Report Background Papers Series 2012/06

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