[2009] Framework for city climate risk assessment

Shagun Mehrotra, Claudia E. Natenzon, Ademola Omojola, Regina Folorunsho, Joseph Gilbride, and Cynthia Rosenzweig.

Framework for city climate risk assessment

Fifth Urban Research Symposium "Cities and Climate Change:
Responding to an Urgent Agenda". Marseille, France
June 28-30, 2009

Estimation of spatially and temporally disaggregated climate risks is a critical prerequisite for the assessment of effective and efficient adaptation and mitigation climate change strategies and policies in complex urban areas. This interdisciplinary research reviews current literature and practices, identifies knowledge gaps, and defines future research directions for creating a risk‐based climate change adaptation framework for climate and cities programs. The focus is on cities in developing and emerging economies. The framework unpacks risk into three vectors—hazards, vulnerabilities, and adaptive capacity. These vectors consist of a combination of physical science, geographical, and socioeconomic elements that can be used by municipal governments to create and carry out climate change action plans. Some of these elements include climate indicators, global climate change scenarios, downscaled regional scenarios, change anticipated in extreme events, qualitative assessment of high‐impact and low‐probability events, associated vulnerabilities, and the ability and willingness to respond. The gap between existing responses and the flexible mitigation and adaptation pathways needed is also explored. To enhance robustness, the framework components have been developed and tested in several case study cities: Buenos Aires, Delhi, Lagos, and New York. The focus is on articulating differential impacts on poor and non‐poor urban residents as well as sectorally disaggregating implications for infrastructure and social well‐being, including health. Finally, some practical lessons are drawn for successful policies and programs at the city level that aim to reduce systemic climate risks especially for the most vulnerable population. Additionally, a programmatic response is articulated with a four‐track approach to risk assessment and crafting of adaptation mechanisms that leverages existing and planned investments in cities so that city governments can respond to climate change effectively, yet efficiently.