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Climate Change Adaptation Planning in Latin American and Caribbean Cities

January 31, 2014

Cusco, Peru

The World Bank’s Disaster Risk Management team in the Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) Region piloted a regional study and technical assistance initiative to strengthen climate adaptation planning for small and medium sized cities (SMSC) in LAC. The initiative’s main objective was to support SMSC with their adaptation planning for floods and landslides, two of the most recurrent climate-related hazards in the region.

SMSC in the LAC region are diverse in location, topography and socio-economic and institutional make-up, yet many are struggling with similar challenges caused by rapid urban growth, weak capacities in urban planning and inadequate provision for public services and infrastructure.  SMSC are also less likely to have had access to climate change adaptation (CCA) training, financing or knowledge networks. The ultimate goal of the initiative was to strengthen local adaptive capacity and to increase urban resilience through mainstreaming climate change adaptation into current planning systems.

Five medium sized cities were selected: Castries, Saint Lucia; Cusco, Peru; El Progreso, Honduras; Estelí, Nicaragua; and Santos, Brazil. Over the course of one and a half years, the task team worked with these cities to conduct three assessments to evaluate their i) climate related risks, ii) institutional adaptive capacities, and iii) socio-economic capacities to adapt to climate change.  These assessments, in conjunction with a series of consultative workshops with city planners and decision-makers, resulted in the development of Strategic Climate Adaptation Investment and Institutional Strengthening Plans for each city.  These plans identify priority investments and activities to strengthen institutional capacities for climate change adaptation.

This initiative produced two additional significant outcomes – an adaptation guidebook and planning themes for each of the pilot cities that may also be applied to the broader LAC region. 

Adaptation Guidebook

The pilot program activities provided inputs for a regional adaptation guidebook for LAC that is being designed for city officials and decision-makers in SMSC to strategically plan, prioritize, and take action to invest in climate change adaptation, with a focus on floods and landslide hazards. Through future knowledge exchange and collaboration, this guidebook may serve other regions facing similar challenges.

Planning Themes

Through the pilot program, three common planning themes to improve climate resilience and address risks for SMSC surfaced:

  • Enhance land use planning systems 
  • Improve budgetary resources and mechanisms for data collection, storage and sharing
  • Consolidate capacity building efforts in city level government institutions

Pilot City Priority Themes

Castries, St. Lucia

Castries, St. Lucia

  • Devolved risk management and planning capacity at the city level for Castries
  • Capacity building in national and city level government institutions engaged in climate change planning and risk management
  • Mechanisms for data collection, storage and dissemination to be created and/or improved for better climate monitoring, risk planning, and information sharing
  • Improved insurance mechanisms and climate financing for long-term recovery and building resilience against floods and landslides
  • Cross-scale integration of risk management practices
  • A shift from disaster management to long term risk reduction and climate change adaptation to ensure a proactive and forward-looking system of risk governance

Cusco, Peru

  • Coordinated risk management and planning across all districts of Cusco
  • Capacity building in national and city level government institutions engaged in climate change planning and risk management
  • Mechanisms for data collection, storage and dissemination to be created and/or improved for better climate monitoring, risk planning, and information sharing
  • Improved budgetary resources and climate financing for long-term recovery and building resilience against climate change hazards
  • Cross-scale integration of risk management practices
  • A shift from disaster management to long term risk reduction and climate change adaptation to ensure a proactive and forward-looking system of risk governance

Esteli, Nicaragua










Estelí, Nicaragua

  • Investment in drainage, sanitation and waste removal services, and improved implementation of land use and urban planning laws:
  • Capacity building in city level government institutions engaged in climate change planning and risk management
  • Mechanisms for data collection, storage and dissemination to be created and/or improved for better climate monitoring, risk planning, and information sharing
  • Improved budgetary resources and climate financing for long-term recovery and building resilience against climate change hazards
  • Cross-scale integration of risk management practices
  • A shift from disaster management to long term risk reduction and climate change adaptation to ensure a proactive and forward-looking system of risk governance

El Progreso, Honduras

  • Consideration of the environmental and socio-economic conditions of rural and peri-urban regions surrounding El Progreso in risk assessment and long term risk management planning for the city
  • Capacity building in city level government institutions engaged in climate change planning and risk management
  • Mechanisms for data collection, storage and dissemination to be created and/or improved for better climate monitoring, risk planning, and information sharing
  •  Improved budgetary resources and climate financing for long-term recovery and building resilience against climate change hazards
  • Cross-scale integration of risk management practices
  •  A shift from disaster management to long term risk reduction and climate change adaptation to ensure a proactive and forward-looking system of risk governance.

Santos, Brazil

  • Horizontal and vertical (cross-scale) integration of risk management practices
  • Mechanisms for data collection, storage and dissemination to be created and/or improved for better climate monitoring, risk planning, and information sharing
  • Improved insurance mechanisms and climate financing for long-term recovery and building resilience against floods and landslides
  • A shift from disaster management to long term risk reduction and climate change adaptation to ensure a proactive and forward-looking system of risk governance