BRIEF November 13, 2017

City Resilience Program

World Bank Group

Unprecedented urbanization is transforming the planet and the way we live:

  • For the first time in history, more people live in cities than in rural areas.
  • Ninety percent of this urban expansion takes place in developing countries, and much of it occurs near natural hazards, rivers and coastlines, and through informal and unplanned settlements.
  • A lack of adequate infrastructure, land use planning, and building codes exacerbates the risks to which urban dwellers are exposed.

The greater concentration of people and assets means that the impact of natural disasters and a changing climate can be devastating, both in terms of human lives lost and economic livelihoods destroyed.

The poorer segments of the population are particularly vulnerable, since they tend to live in more hazardous settlements and lack the necessary safety nets to recover from economic or environmental shocks.

The World Bank Group’s (WBG) City Resilience Program (CRP) is an effort to assist city governments to build greater resilience to climate and disaster risks.

For many major cities in the world, strengthening urban resilience is a multibillion dollar agenda that requires strong partnerships and new sources of capital. Cities are sometimes held back from pursuing the necessary investments because they lack the technical expertise and/or the access to capital to finance them. CRP tries to fill that gap by:

  1. leveraging the WBG’s broad set of sectoral expertise in designing urban resilience projects, and
  2. better connecting cities to the necessary financing. 

The aim of CRP is to catalyze a transparent pipeline of well-prepared and bankable investment opportunities and to improve access for private and institutional investors to crowd into new markets. It is in this sense that CRP seeks to act as the bankers of the city, and to facilitate strategic investments that address the vulnerabilities and risks that cities face in a holistic way.

The CRP approach engages cities in a long-term partnership to identify areas of need and opportunity, as well as to define a robust response toward building resilience. CRP promotes ambition both in the technical design and the financial scope to generate investments that are bigger and better.

A broad coalition of experts, convened under Thematic Working Groups, will accompany the design and implementation of each city-level engagement, while private capital experts will support cities to expand the financing options available to them.

CRP’s technical and financial contribution allows cities to undertake the required preparatory work and diagnostic assessments that make possible a robust and comprehensive response to the challenge of resilience. 

CRP support is structured around three phases as described below.


PHASE I: Project Scoping

Technical Assistance: This phase focuses on developing a city engagement strategy which will define the set of activities and investments needed to strengthen urban resilience. The city engagement strategy builds on a broad understanding of investment needs and opportunities, and will be developed through a collaborative process with city officials and drawing on the broad set of expertise offered through the CRP Technical Working Groups. The aim is to address institutional, technical, and financial barriers to building greater resilience at the city level as well as to encourage city governments to be more ambitious in the interventions they envision.

Capital Raising: The CRP Rapid Capital Assessment gives an initial indication of a city’s readiness to deploy various private capital mobilization instruments, including raising commercial debt, structuring public-private partnerships (PPPs), and leveraging private capital from land value capture (LVC) transactions.  The rapid capital assessment will set out realistic financing options that include other multilateral or bilateral sources and funds from private investors.

PHASE II: Diagnostic Assessment

Technical Assistance: All city engagements are built on a foundational analysis/diagnostic of the legal and institutional environment for planning and managing capital investments, a review of existing geospatial data systems, and a compilation of disaster risk profiles at the city level.

Capital Raising: CRP will identify the capital investment needs and build a project-capital structure which leverages public and private sources of capital. A Capital Investment Plan will be developed.

PHASE III: Investment Project

Technical Assistance: Once specific interventions and investment plans are defined, CRP supports cities in the implementation of investment projects through technical support and the mobilization of co-financing. 

Capital Raising: CRP may also engage advisory services to secure best technical support for private capital mobilization, including legal and financial services, transaction structuring, organizations of industry forums and capital markets advisory. This includes transaction management support in private capital mobilization, PPP, and LVC structuring and loan syndication; assistance with hedging, de-risking, and credit enhancement; as well as technical assistance on finance reform. 

The City Resilience Program is supported by the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR). To learn more about CRP, click here