Creating Climate-resilient Buildings and Communities

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When tropical Cyclone Idai, one of the strongest cyclones to strike Africa, and Tropical Cyclone Kenneth, lash Mozambique in 2019, it devastated infrastructure, homes, workplaces, and schools through the severe winds and flooding it brought with it.  

The extent of losses and damage suffered by communities from extreme natural disasters raises the awareness of the importance of resilient infrastructure and buildings that can withstand the increasing risks of climate change and natural hazards.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) publication, ‘A Practical Guide to Climate-resilient Buildings & Communities’, demonstrates how buildings and community spaces can be constructed to increase their resilience to climate change, especially in developing countries where structures are largely self-built.

The publication provides an overview of the fundamental types of interventions at the building scale, including nature-based solutions.

Read some excerpts from the UNEP’s practical guide:

  • This practical guide has been prepared because the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) recognises the key role buildings can play in enhancing climate change adaptation, improving resilience and addressing and mitigating risk. Furthermore, there is a recognised need for additional resources addressing good practice for buildings in communities and towns that face risk from disasters but may suffer from a deficit of professionally trained architects, engineers, contractors, manufacturers and other practitioners. Therefore, this note is written for a broad audience, including those with little experience in the building and construction industries.
  • The term “built environment” encompasses all areas of development, including infrastructure 16 (roads, utilities and major transportation hubs) as well as buildings, parks and other urban features. While this note will provide an overview of important infrastructure and community-scale considerations, it is principally focused on building structures and their immediate surroundings.
  • The practical guide sets out to provide an overview of the fundamental types of interventions at the building scale. It specifically offers concepts and approaches for the building envelope, roof, structure, orientation and materials. The approaches and technologies presented in this document are tailored toward a developing country context and a built environment that is largely self-constructed. However, the majority of the techniques identified in this practical guide can be upscaled and applied to buildings of any type, including apartment complexes, hospitals and schools.

The guide explores various solutions that apply to a wide geographic scope and different climate types. These interventions are scalable and focus on technical approaches, particularly in areas experiencing rapid population and urbanisation.

The note provides various building and construction designs for single-family homes up to large commercial buildings to help cope with diverse climates from hot and arid, hot and humid, to cold and temperate climates.

To read the UNEP report, click the link below:

Source Citation:

United Nations Environment Programme (2021). A Practical Guide to Climate-resilient Buildings & Communities. Nairobi. Retrieved from

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