Resilient Cities Program

November 16, 2015


Strengthening Urban Resilience.

Tran Viet Duc / World Bank

With a greater concentration of people and assets in urban areas, cities need to address an increasingly complex range of shocks and stresses to safeguard development gains and accelerate poverty reduction.

Managing disaster risk and the impacts of climate change have long been an important focus of urban resilience. But recent examples show how economic crises, health epidemics and uncontrolled urbanization can also affect the ability of a city to sustain growth and provide services for its citizens – underscoring the need for a new approach to resilient urban development.

The World Bank’s Resilient Cities Program, launched in December 2013, reflects this conceptual shift and aims to help cities adapt to a greater variety of changing conditions and withstand shocks while maintaining essential functions. 

Ongoing activities under this program, which is also supported by the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR), include:

CityStrength Diagnostic

  • A rapid diagnostic methodology to help cities improve their understanding of risk and the performance of urban systems as well as identify priority actions and investments that will enhance the city’s resilience.
  • The first diagnostics under the new methodology were conducted in Can Tho, Vietnam in June 2014 and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in July 2015. Additional diagnostics are planned, including Lahore, Pakistan in late 2015.

Financing Resilience

  • Innovative financing mechanisms to support investment in resilient infrastructure are being developed working with the private sector and other development partners.
  • A methodology to mainstream Low-Carbon & Resilient Capital Investment Planning in cities is being developed, and training is being provided for cities participating in City Creditworthiness Academies

Medellin Collaboration on Urban Resilience

  • Nine institutions, including the World Bank, announced a global collaboration at the World Urban Forum in Medellin, Colombia, in April 2014 expressing their collective commitment to help cities improve resilience.
  • The collaboration aims to facilitate the flow of knowledge and financial resources necessary to help cities become more resilient to disruptions related to climate change, disasters caused by natural hazards, and other systemic shocks and stresses, including the socio-economic challenges associated with rapid urbanization.
  • Primary objectives include:

    -  Fostering harmonization of the approaches and tools available to help cities assess their strengths, vulnerabilities, and exposure to a multitude of natural and manmade threats in order to build their resilience;

    -  Catalyzing access to existing and innovative finance mechanisms, including risk-based instruments, to reduce exposure and vulnerability to shocks and increase cities’ adaptive capacity; and

    -  Supporting capacity development of cities to achieve their goals by facilitating direct sharing of best practice and knowledge enhancement.