Cities in Asia: how are they adapting to climate change?

  • Hari Bansha DulalEmail author


Asian cities are at the forefront of climate change impacts. Given the size of city economies, the economic losses caused by climate-induced extreme weather can be quite significant. Together, the cities of Guangzhou, Mumbai, Shenzen, Tianjin, Ho Chi Minh City, Kolkata, and Jakarta incurred $1520 million (USD) in annual losses due to coastal flooding in 2005 alone. By 2050, the annual loss incurred as a result of coastal flooding in these cities is projected to increase to $32,079 million. In the light of the projected increase in climate-induced extreme weather events and associated loss, it is important to understand where Asian cities are in terms of climate change adaptation planning and governance. I use publicly available data and information published between 2004 and 2014 to capture urban climate change adaptation activities implemented in Asian cities, their sectoral distribution, and nature. This research finds that Asian cities are at a very early stage of climate change adaptation planning and governance. Countries with a larger number of cities implementing urban adaptation activities are the ones where central governments provide policy directives and support required for urban climate change adaptation planning and governance. There are two major flaws in the way urban climate change adaptation planning and governance is being carried out in Asian cities. First, the majority of urban climate change adaptation activities are concentrated in only one sector-disaster risk management. Second, approximately two thirds of urban climate change adaptation activities are reactive in nature. What cities in Asia need is an optimal mix of proactive and reactive adaptation. Without proactive adaptation actions, cities in Asia will not be able to address the full range of climate change hazards in strategic and cost-effective manner.


Asia Cities Proactive adaptation Reactive adaptation Status Urban climate change adaptation 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Harvard University John F Kennedy School of GovernmentHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA

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