Strategies for Greening and Climate Resilience

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Climate adaptation World Bank Report Analyse How Cities Can Become Greener and More Resilient to Climate Change

In the past 50 years, between 1970 to 2021, the population in cities has grown four times, increasing from 1.19 billion to 4.46 billion. And the population is only expected to grow in cities. Projections show that almost 70% of the world’s population will call cities home.

At the same time, the earth’s temperatures rose by 1.19 °C above the preindustrial level. The progress that cities generate has contributed significantly to climate change. However, cities also provide many of the solutions to the climate crisis.

The World Bank report, “Thriving: Making Cities Green, Resilient, and Inclusive in a Changing Climate”, examines the two-way relationship between cities and climate change, concluding that cities also hold one of the keys to solving the climate crisis.

The 300+ page flagship report uses data from across 10,000 cities globally and asks these four crucial questions: How green, resilient, and inclusive are cities today? How does climate change affect cities and people in cities? How does the growth of these areas impact the climate and, more generally, the environment? And finally, what policies will help make cities greener, more resilient, and more inclusive? In other words, how could cities thrive in a changing climate?

The report distinguished the 10,000+ cities into nine types according to country income level: high-income, upper-middle-income, low-income and lower-middle-income, and city size: small, medium, and large and measured the level of greenness, resilience, and inclusiveness challenges they face.

Indicators for greenness include absolute and per capita production-based fossil fuel carbon dioxide emissions, emissions and concentrations of particulate matter of 2.5 microns or less in diameter and measures of a city’s level and extent of greenery or vegetation.

For resilience, they include estimates of the size of impacts of weather events on a city’s aggregate level of economic activity. Indicators of inclusiveness have access to essential services such as improved sanitation and safely managed drinking water, poverty rates, and levels of intracity household income inequality.

Below are some of the main findings of the report:

  • Climate change is exposing cities to increasingly frequent extreme weather events. Extreme heat, dry, and wet events have increased since the 1970s, and rising sea levels are raising flooding risk in coastal cities.
  • Cities in high- and upper-middle-income countries are significant contributors to climate change, whereas the contribution of cities in lower-income countries is modest. Cities emit about 70% of global GHG emissions. Lower-income cities accounted for 14% of all global urban CO2 emissions in 2015, while low-income cities contributed less than 0.20%. The challenge for lower-income counties is to develop without following the CO2 emissions trajectories of cities in higher-income countries.
  • Cities in low- and lower-middle-income countries face the highest exposure to projected climate change–related hazards by 2030 to 2040, such as floods, heat stress, tropical cyclones, sea-level rise, water stress, and wildfires, compared to cities in higher-income countries.
  • Cities in low- and lower-middle-income countries are less resilient to increasingly frequent climate change–related shocks and stresses.
  • Cities suffer indirect impacts of climate change, especially in low- and lower-middle-income countries. These indirect impacts include people from rural areas moving to the cities after an extreme event. This results in new settlements in the city that are often informal with limited access to basic services.
  • Construction in countries is gravitating toward cities most affected by climate change. Since the 1960s, development has increasingly gravitated towards cities projected to become unbearably hot due to climate change.
  • Lack of inclusiveness in access to basic services like healthcare, education, water, electricity, waste management, emergency rescue, and others contributes to cities’ lack of resilience in low- and lower-middle-income countries.
  • Cities in low and middle-income countries are less green regarding air pollution. Air pollution from key urban sectors presents a more significant challenge for larger cities in countries at all income levels. On average, concentrations of PM2.5 (particulate matter of 2.5 microns or less in diameter) in both 2000 and 2015 were lower in high-income countries than in lower-income countries.
  • Cities that develop vertically consume less land, accommodate more people, and are more prosperous. Across cities globally, a doubling of a city’s total height leads to a roughly 16% increase in its population and a 19% reduction in its land area relative to other cities. These results are accompanied by a 4% increase in the intensity of the city’s night-time lights per capita, which suggests increased prosperity.
  • Lack of vegetation, especially in large cities and cities in upper-middle-income countries, can exacerbate the impacts of extreme heat. This is because a lack of vegetation worsens the urban heat island effect, increasing temperatures in urban areas to more than 10°C higher than rural temperatures.

You can read further by clicking the link in the “Source” section below.


Mukim, Megha (ed.); Roberts, Mark (ed.). 2023. Thriving: Making Cities Green, Resilient, and Inclusive in a Changing Climate. Washington, DC : WorldBank.

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