Strengthening Climate Adaptation & Disaster Risk Management in Latin American & Caribbean Cities



Approval Date
Actual Completion Date
Proposal Focus
Core Focus
Secondary Cities
Country Type
Lesson Learned for Cities Alliance Members and Partners
The results of the survey and particularly the identification of risk areas underscored the relevance of the climate change agenda for the work of the Cities Alliance: The majority of respondents therefore described the most vulnerable sectors of the city population, most often poor / low-income, or named as 'marginal', or living in 'irregular' settlements on the city peripheries. These populations were also most often referred to in relation to their living in areas lacking in infrastructure or in low-lying areas, next to water courses or others considered to be at high risk from floods or other climate events. Finally, despite the relative emphasis on losses experienced in the housing sector as a result of extreme events, housing issues such as building improvement appeared low on priorities in both overall city plans and in disaster management plans (with resettlement policies a more common policy option in the sector). Given the losses in the sector, this could be an area for greater attention by policy-makers. From a partnership perspective, the following conclusions can be drawn: Firstly, this grant faced initial challenges in meeting its target in terms of the survey response rate-only 30% response rate of the target. This issue was then addressed through a partnership with local academic institutions and a collaboration with ICLEI-Mexico and CEPREDENAC to increase outreach to city officials. As a result of this partnership, the response rate increased significantly and reached three times more than the original target. Secondly, the setting up of an Advisory Committee for the initiative has brought great value to the initiative in terms of ensuring representation of the diverse sub-regions and broadening endorsement, visibility and ownership by key local partners.


The World Bank’s Urban, Water and Disaster Risk Management (DRM) unit for Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region has begun work on a regional report on cities and climate change adaptation. In support of this endeavor this grant supported a survey of municipal officials carried out in the Latin America and Caribbean region between 2010 and 2011 to explore their climate change adaptation priorities, activities and perceived needs. This was the first such survey to be undertaken in the region. The results of the survey as well as two literature reviews on climate change impacts at the city level and on dignostic tools in development are informing the development of the overall regional report. proposed guidebook is critical for city authorities in the LAC region in view of the high exposure and vulnerability of LAC cities to climatic changes, higher climate change vulnerability of the urban poor and slum dwellers/the concentration of the most vulnerable (i.e. the poor, slum dwellers) in urban centres/slums, the highly urbanised nature of the region and rapid growth of medium-sized cities, and the lack of focus on climate adaptation.
The main objective of the diagnostic activities was to feed into a practical guidebook for city governments in the Latin America and Caribbean region to better understand the concepts and consequences of climate change; how climate change consequences contribute to urban vulnerabilities; and how to plan for/adapt to climate change impacts and impending disasters through sound urban planning. Furthermore, the research and diagnostic section of the report would provide key information and data to inform the currently ongoing regional State of LAC Cities Report, led by UN-Habitat. More specifically, the LAC SoCR report has a section that deals with the issues of climate change adaptation in cities, to which the proposed toolkit(s) could provide practical guide for city officials to address these challenges.
The activities financed through the CA contribution focused on a stocktaking exercise on demands for climate sensitive planning in cities as well as on the availability of diagnostic tools to address these demands. The activities therefore consisted of a survey of mayors, urban planning officials and relevant Ministry officials across the region to identify current awareness of the climate change challenge, decision makers’ view of priorities for their cities in this regard, and to identify ongoing sound climate change adaptation initiatives at the city level in the region. The target was to involve around 100 cities in the survey. The survey was complemented with literature reviews on the subject. These stocktaking exercises informed consecutive steps in the development of the regional report financed by other sources (SFLAC and BNPP), such as the Diagnosis, Policy Recommendation, Toolkit and Dissemination.
Expected Impacts and Results
The project is planned to meet the short- to mid-term outcomes of: 1) increased awareness on and understanding of climate change risks/impacts on mid-sized cities among urban planners and/or mayors of such cities in the region; 2) increased knowledge exchange/knowledge sharing among city authorities to assist them in improving their capacity to prepare for their cities’ adaptation to the ongoing climate changes; and 3) improved quality of decision-making for investing in urban infrastructure.