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Rights to Urban Climate Resilience: Moving Beyond Poverty and Vulnerability

Authors: Richard Friend & Marcus Moench

Urbanization represents a transformation of social-ecological systems. In Asia within a generation, the dramatic pace and extent of urbanization transformed the ecological landscape and caused a fundamental shift in labor and production from rural, agricultural society to urban, industrialized society. Much of this has and continues to occur in locations that are hazardous and will exacerbate future climate risks. While Asia leads this process of urbanization, similar patterns are emerging across the Global South. Rapid urbanization compels us to rethink poverty and vulnerability. Much of the literature on urban poverty argues that it has been long ignored and is poorly understood due to inappropriate indicators and weak measurement methods. However in addition to these challenges, the nature of urbanization—including dependence on complex infrastructural, technological, and institutional systems—creates new drivers of poverty that necessitates new approaches to understanding and addressing urban poverty and vulnerability. As a result, there exists a problem regarding how urban poverty and vulnerability are framed. With the emergence of urban climate concerns and the discourse of resilience, poverty, and vulnerability are increasingly framed as impacts to be addressed and are seen as problems of welfare and social protection. At the heart of urbanization in Asia, however, are challenges of governance and equity rather than simply welfare. Issues of governance and equity link strongly to questions regarding how the urban future is shaped, for whose benefit and by whom, that is to say, to concepts of wellbeing and the ‘right of the city.’


Citation: Friend, R., Moench, M. (2015). Rights to Urban Climate Resilience: Moving Beyond Poverty and Vulnerability. WIREs Climate Change. doi: 10.1002/wcc.364

Funded by: The Rockefeller Foundation