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Building Urban Climate Resilience: The Economics of Alternative Development Pathways

Authors: Dilip Singh, Fawad Khan, Phong Tran, Kathleen Hawley

We explore alternative development pathways in two medium-size urban cities in Asia. The goal is to use real examples that cities are considering or could consider to investigate alternatives to traditional development approaches. This research builds upon previous studies of building resilience in medium-size cities in South and Southeast Asia, where resilience strategies were developed and individual interventions to build resilience were identified through the Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network (ACCCRN) (Tyler, S., & Moench, M., 2012). In the current study, we chose two of the ACCCRN cities and conducted a forward-looking climate-based economic analysis to explore the costs and benefits of specific choices currently being explored to build resilience. Focused mainly on the hazards of urban flooding, these cities illustrate what it will take to shift from a “business as usual” (BAU) approach to a more “resilient” strategy. The approach in this research was to study the contrasting returns from a base “development as usual” scenario and from scenarios that build resilience and reduce future exposure and losses (through strategic design changes in transportation, flood management, and shelter systems). These development scenarios/pathways have been evaluated over the medium term (from the present to the 2040s) in relation to downscaled precipitation projections from the most regionally appropriate general circulation models, as well as patterns of urban development projected over that period. This research will provide key insights into reducing vulnerabilities of what the cities are experiencing and suggest a suite of solutions that might alter the current hazards being faced within those cities.

Citation: Sing, D., Khan, F., Tran, P., Hawley, K. Building Urban Climate Resilience: The Economics of Alternative Development Pathways. Boulder, CO: Institute for Social and Environmental Transition-International. 

Funded by: The Rockefeller Foundation