Reflecting on resilience gaps and priorities: City Resilience Profiles rolled out in UCCRTF cities
ADB’s Urban Climate Change Resilience Trust Fund (UCCRTF) has prepared a set of seventeen City Resilience Profiles (CRPs) covering cities in Bangladesh, Pakistan, the Philippines and Vietnam. The CRPs provide a snapshot of urban resilience across four key dimensions: health and well-being, economy and society, infrastructure and ecosystems, and leadership and strategy.
The CRPs present the results of baselining work undertaken by UCCRTF in 2018 as part of a broader assessment to measure resilience in UCCRTF-supported cities under TA 9217 implemented by Arup. The Technical Assistance (TA) supports ADB’s efforts to understand and measure the resilience benefits of their investments to the communities in which they are situated.
City-level resilience measurement was carried out in 17 cities, in which 13 included household-level surveys. At the city level, data was collected by conducting surveys with City Officials through focus group discussions with key city stakeholders. The city-level methodology was adapted from the City Resilience Index, developed by Arup and the Rockefeller Foundation. The household data were collected through direct surveys with around 100 households in vulnerable communities that were identified through random sampling.
The CRPs provide a systems view of urban resilience, measuring it against four dimensions and twelve resilience goals:
The Health and well-being dimension assessed the provision for the protection and safeguarding of human health and quality of life. Cities were scored against three resilience goals: ‘Minimum Human Vulnerability’, ‘Diverse Livelihoods & Employment’, and ‘Safeguards to Human Health’.
The Economy and society dimension assessed how strong the urban economy was and the strength of community and social cohesion. The three resilience goals for this dimension were ‘Sustainable Economy’, ‘Security and the rule of Law’ and ‘Community Identity and Support’.
The Infrastructure and environment dimension measured the perceived quality of cities’ infrastructure systems. The resilience goals under this dimension were: ‘Reduced Exposure’, ‘Critical Infrastructure’ and ‘Mobility and Communication’.
The Leadership and strategy dimension measured the perceived quality of the urban governance and leadership: The resilience goals tested under this dimension were: ‘Integrated planning’, ‘Effective leadership’, and ‘Empowered stakeholders’.
Figure 1: City-wide resilience results for Faridpur, Bangladesh. The city requires significant investment to boost its resilience.
Each CRP presented its results in the unique context of the city. All cities studied had significant resilience challenges, usually across multiple resilience dimensions. The most common climate threats cities faced were flooding from coastal inundation or intense rainfall, extreme heat, and storms. These threats will likely worsen existing challenges in the cities, such as adverse health impacts from declining water quality, heat stress and vector-borne diseases.
The CRPs also highlighted how climate change is likely to hamper cities’ economic growth and prosperity. Extreme events causing damage to already poor-quality infrastructure systems, increased heat stress affecting outdoor workers, and pressures on municipal finances were all found to be significant breaks to economic development. Many cities were also found to have substantial dependence on climatically sensitive sectors such as agriculture, making them especially economically vulnerable.
Generally, the CRPs found that the most significant challenge for cities in building resilience was due to lack of municipal capacity for urban development planning, procurement and development, a lack of funds to improve poor-quality or non-existent critical infrastructure systems, and fast-growing populations that were leading to unplanned expansion into climatically-vulnerable areas
“ We must prepare ourselves to be a developed country by 2041 and ensure safe drinking water, solid waste management, sanitation, etc. In addition, selection of human habitat, open space, educational facilities and other civic facilities should be incorporated in the master plan as per standard practice. ”
Mayor, Patuakhali Municipality.
The household surveys tested against five resilience dimensions: access to essential services; assets, adaptive capacity; income and food access; and social safety nets. Households were selected in areas where ADB physical interventions were planned and in areas considered to be most vulnerable to climate impacts.
The household surveys provided a different perspective on perceived resilience in the cities. Mostly, there was a strong correlation between the resilience perceptions of residents with the city-wide findings. Many residents felt that their resilience was undermined by a lack of economic opportunities, poor infrastructure, low social cohesion, and community connectedness. The study also collected information about people’s access to essential services, whether they owned assets and their protection by social safety nets. These results were highly city-specific, with lots of variation between the target cities.
Figure 2: Results of the Household Survey in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Perceptions of the community (left, scores out of 5) show low perceived levels of community resilience across different indicators. Significant portions of responding households had low access to essential services and poor social safety nets (right).
There was more consistency in results regarding whether residents felt they were becoming more or less resilient to climate impacts. Residents in most cities reported that their resilience was declining. This could be due both to degrading infrastructure systems and worsening climate impacts. Many cities studied had early warning systems in place in case of disaster. The results of the surveys suggested that even in cities where these systems were in operation, few people responded to the warnings by leaving their homes. This was due to a combination of factors, including low awareness of emergency procedures, the location of emergency shelters, and a desire to stay behind to protect valuable assets such as homes and livestock.
Figure 3: In Dong Hoi, Viet Nam, households reported that their ability to recover from shocks and stresses was getting worse (left). They also said that despite receiving early warnings before the most recent disaster, very few people left their homes in response (right).
Engagement in cities
Since the middle of 2021, UCCRTF has engaged stakeholders in each city in dialogues around their respective CRP. This effort has helped share the findings of the CRPs and highlight the importance of achieving systemic resilience. These sessions have allowed participants to reflect on the city’s vulnerabilities, capacities, and limitations and identify recommendations for building urban climate change resilience.
Thirteen cities have been engaged to date, in Bangladesh, the Philippines, Pakistan and Viet Nam. Dialogues were attended by city mayors, key representatives from various provincial and city departments on planning, environment, infrastructure, social work, and disaster risk management, among others, as well as community stakeholders and ADB project officers.
City officials have highlighted cities’ predicaments across multiple dimensions amidst compounding impacts from climate change and COVID-19. There is recognition of the need to develop and implement long-term, comprehensive, and integrated city strategies and plans to achieve urban resilience. This would provide the basis for harmonized plans across various related infrastructure and sectors such as transportation, water, waste, and environment, among others.
For example, in Patuakhali, city officials have expressed the urgent need to prioritize enacting its master plan incorporating holistic approaches to address challenges on safe drinking water, solid waste management, sanitation, open spaces, and other social facilities. “We must prepare ourselves to be a developed country by 2041 and ensure safe drinking water, solid waste management, sanitation, etc. In addition, selection of human habitat, open space, educational facilities and other civic facilities should be incorporated in the master plan as per standard practice.” – Mohiuddin Ahmed, Mayor, Patuakhali Municipality.
City officials have also acknowledged the relevance of the CRP and how it can provide guidance to direct intervention areas and priorities. In Vinh Yen, officials noted that the baseline methodology embodies a new and scientific approach to evaluating city resilience. In Faridpur, the CRP can provide valuable insights to guide the city’s planning, considering the more significant and new challenges due to the expansion of its urban areas and population. The city has expanded from nine wards when the baselining was done to 27 today.
The feedback from the city stakeholders will feed into an endline study to be carried out in 2022. The endline will provide an assessment of the changes in the level of resilience of cities and households and how ADB and UCCRTF interventions have contributed to this.
The CRPs were developed published under TA 9217 Knowledge Management and Resilience Measurement for Urban Climate Change Resilience (UCCRTF Subproject 2), led by Arup.
 The baseline assessment did not cover all the indicators contained within the City Resilience Index methodology. More information about the City Resilience Framework and City Resilience Index can be found here: https://www.cityresilienceindex.org.