IWA Publishing

Guide to climate change adaptation in cities : executive summary (Vol. 1 of 2)

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Cities face significant impacts from climate change, both now and into the future. These impacts have potentially serious consequences for human health, livelihoods, and assets, especially for the urban poor, informal settlements, and other vulnerable groups. Climate change impacts range from an increase in extreme weather events and flooding to hotter temperatures and public health concerns. Cities in low elevation coastal zones, for instance, face the combined threat of sea-level rise and storm surges. The specific impacts on each city will depend on the actual changes in climate experienced (for example, higher temperatures or increased rainfall), which will vary from place to place. Climate change will increase the frequency at which some natural hazards occur, especially extreme weather events, and introduce new incremental impacts that are less immediate. However, few climate impacts will be truly unfamiliar to cities. Cities have always lived with natural hazards, such as earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, and flooding. In some situations, cities will experience an increase in the frequency of existing climate-related hazards, such as flooding. Climate change considerations can be integrated with disaster risk reduction (DRR) in cities. DRR efforts already familiar to many may be used as a platform from which to develop climate change adaptation plans. In practical terms, disaster risk reduction and climate adaptation can be integrated in many instances, although cities should also consider incremental or gradual changes in climate that affect government operations or community life in less immediate and visible ways than conventional disasters. Approaches to collecting information on climate change impacts in a city can range from highly technical and resource-intensive, to simple and inexpensive. Technically complex assessments are likely to require collaboration with external experts, if a city is not large or well-resourced with sufficient in-house capacity.

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