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The political underpinnings of cities’ accumulated resilience to climate change


About this resource

Resource type:Research, reports and studies
Keywords:Disaster preparedness, resilience and risk reduction, Environment, Government, National & regional actors, Urban
Agency:International Institute for Environment and Development, The Bartlett Development Planning Unit (UCL)
Author(s):Satterthwaite, D.
Date published:March 2012

The impacts of climate change in any city are obviously influenced by
the quality of its housing and other buildings, its infrastructure and services. These
were not built with climate change risks in mind, although they were influenced
by environmental health risks that were present when they were constructed
(including those from extreme weather) and often by responses to past disasters.
Well-governed cities that have greatly reduced these risks have accumulated
resilience to the climate change impacts that exacerbate (or will exacerbate)
these risks. In so doing, they have also developed the social, political, financial
and institutional structures that provide the basis for addressing these and other
risks. These structures were developed through social, environmental and political
reforms, driven by such factors as democracy, decentralization and strong social
movements representing the needs of those with limited incomes, or other factors
associated with vulnerability. These “bottom-up” pressures from citizens and civil
society on national and city governments are critical for developing the institutions
and measures to reduce climate change-related risks (especially for those most at
risk) and to support resilience.

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