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BRIEF November 28, 2023

Launch of the World Bank’s Urban Heat Report at Yokohama’s Asia Smart Cities Conference

ASCC WB session collage photo

During November 13-15, 2023, the City of Yokohama, in collaboration with its development partners including the World Bank Tokyo Development Learning Center (TDLC), held the 12th Asia Smart Cities Conference (ASCC). The ASCC brought together representatives from Asian cities, national governments, international organizations, academic institutions, and the private sector to exchange ideas, insights, and experiences in decarbonizing cities. Bernice van Bronkhorst, the Global Director for the Urban, Disaster Risk Management, Resilience, and Land Practice of the World Bank urged cities to step up their efforts in mitigating and adapting to impending climate impacts.

ASCC WB session Mark Roberts
Mark Roberts presenting on the Urban Heat Report

As part of the conference, TDLC organized a session themed “Building Livable and Thriving Cities” and launched the World Bank report “Unlivable: What the Urban Heat Island Effect Means for East Asia’s Cities”. It also present the key findings from the World Bank’s Sustainable Development Flagship Report titled “Thriving: Making Cities Green, Resilient and Inclusive in a Changing Climate”. Mark Roberts, Lead Urban Economist and an author of the Urban Heat study presented the report’s key findings that surveyed a sample of 100 East Asian cities, in which the report found that urban areas are 2°C warmer than their surrounding rural areas within a 10-kilometer radius. In certain cities, the temperature difference between the hottest and coolest areas was as a great as 7°C. For vulnerable urban residents such as the poor, the elderly, and outdoor workers, the temperature differential could mean the difference between life and death. Nevertheless, this report also argues that policy makers, especially city leaders, have several policy tools available to them to reduce local temperatures and better prepare their residents for extreme heat waves.

ASCC WB session Megha Mukim
Megha Mukim presenting the highlights of the Thriving Cities report

Megha Mukim, Senior Urban Economist of the World Bank, presented the highlights of the Thriving Cities report that aims to support local and national policymakers to design greener, more resilient and inclusive cities. Using data from 10,000 cities worldwide, the report asks the questions: how green, resilient and inclusive are our cities today? How does the growth of cities impact the climate and the environment in general? This World Bank flagship report presents recommendations on policy instruments revolving around information, incentives, insurance, integration, and investments.

These presentations were followed by a panel discussion with exchanges from the Mayor of Baguio City, Philippines, the Director General of the Yokohama City’s Internal Affairs Bureau, the Director General of the Cambodia’s Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning, and Construction, and the Head of Development and Planning of Makassar Government. Ming Zhang, Practice Manager of the World Bank Global Practice for Urban, Land and Resilience in the East Asia and Pacific chaired the panel discussion.

ASCC WB session Mayor of Baguio City, Philippines
Mayor of Baguio City expressing his views on issues of urban heat