ADB’s Urban Resilience Trust fund to help scale up resilience in cities across Asia
Image: Flooding in the streets of Kolkata, India. Credit Flikr: Sharon CC by 2.0
Secondary cities in Asia remain highly vulnerable to climate impacts. At the same time, they are expected to experience rapid growth over the coming decades, increasing the concentration of climate risk in urban centers across the region. ADB aspires to be ‘Asia’s Climate Bank’ and commit significant funds to help cities to be resilient to climate impacts. At COP26 in Glasgow, the UK Government, through the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) launched the Climate Action for a Resilience Asia (CARA) Program which will support ADB’s objective—the Urban Resilience Trust Fund (URTF). FCDO has committed GBP70 million from the CARA program to finance URTF that will be one of the trust funds to be managed by ADB under the umbrella of the Urban Financing Partnership Facility (UFPF).
Building on the work of the Urban Climate Change Resilience Trust Fund (UCCRTF), the URTF aims to mainstream climate resilience into ADB’s processes and ensure that climate resilience is a key consideration for investments in urban development across the region. In 2021, ADB announced its aim to increase climate finance by $20 billion to reach $100 billion by 2030. The bank has also committed to aligning its operations with the goals of the Paris Agreement and ensuring all project activities advance low-carbon, climate resilient-development pathways, or at the minimum, not undermine these goals (“do no harm” principle). Specifically, ADB aims to achieve complete alignment of its sovereign and non-sovereign operations by July 2025.
URTF will support the ADB in ramping up its climate adaptation investments, ensuring that it takes a whole-of-bank approach to climate action. Robust climate assessments must form the basis for country strategies to drive transformational change and private-sector engagement. URTF will seek to drive change by (i) increasing the understanding of climate resilience across all scales to ensure that risks faced by societies and economies are fully reflected in public and private decision-making; (ii) improving investment planning to improve how policy and investment decisions are made and implemented; and (iii) driving innovations in finance for resilience, to mobilize the funds and resources required for adaptation at scale.
Potential for impact
URTF’s focus on building urban resilience in cities in ADB Developing Member Countries (DMCs) is important as there is mounting evidence that resilience investments in fast-growing secondary cities will be more impactful over the medium term. They also face unique challenges that require support during project identification, planning, design and implementation.
Like UCCRTF, URTF will be administered in close partnership between ADB and the UK Government. URTF is the largest subprogram of the UK Government’s Climate Action for a Resilient Asia (CARA) program, a 7-year, £274 million effort to strengthen the resilience of vulnerable communities, economies, and the environment to the impacts of climate change and promote low-carbon growth across Asia and the Pacific.
The lessons learned from UCCRTF has greatly influenced the structural design of URTF, which incorporates some of the foundational elements of UCCRTF’s approach. URTF has three pillars for intervention: (i) institutionalizing a holistic approach to adaptation and resilience that cuts across physical/infrastructure aspects, nature-positive solutions, socio-institutional capacity building, and economic/financial instruments; (ii) adopting systematic steps to integrate climate resilience in project planning in ways that facilitate alignment with the Paris Agreement goals and enable reliable tracking of ADB’s adaptation finance; and (iii) ensuring adequate integration of outcome indicators (measurable qualities) in results frameworks at country, city, and project levels (Figure 1).
URTF represents a significant increase in the level of ambition to increase the resilience of cities in Asia as they develop. The lessons learned from UCCRTF will inform the operations of the new fund. “Our thinking behind UCCRTF was that we wanted the fund to shift resilience thinking beyond business as usual… UCCRTF has demonstrated the concept and has delivered a huge amount of benefit on the ground.” Said Shantanu Mitra, Head of Infrastructure and Urban Development, FCDO India.
The challenge facing URTF is to retain the fundamental principles that formed the basis of UCCRTF’s work but to increase the scale of the impact and the speed at which resilience benefits are realized for ADB’s DMCs. “Fundamentally changing the way city planners and governments think about planning and development does not happen overnight.” Said Mitra, “One of the important challenges for the future is how to take the ideas and lessons from UCCRTF to scale.”
 Global Commission on Adaptation (2021) https://gca.org/reports/adapt-now-a-global-call-for-leadership-on-climate-resilience/
“One of the important challenges for the future is how to take the ideas and lessons from the UCCRTF to scale.”
Head of Infrastructure and Urban Development