Cities Alliance and WRI will assess climate resilience at the community level to improve preparedness

Brussels/Washington (January 12, 2017) – Climate change is a global phenomenon and cities are on the frontlines, but climate impacts and risks will be felt differently across neighbourhoods and populations due to differences in geography, culture and infrastructure. Cities must understand the shocks and stresses to neighbourhoods and how to address these vulnerabilities – especially in areas with a high proportion of informal settlements. To this end, Cities Alliance is pleased to announce a new partnership with the World Resources Institute (WRI) to work on Urban Community Resilience Assessments (UCRA) in three cities: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Surat, India; and Semarang, Indonesia.

Developed by WRI with input from community and city leaders, the UCRA is a tool to help cities include citizen and community capacities into broader assessments of urban resilience. By assessing social cohesion, familiarity with local risks, early warning systems and disaster readiness, the UCRA provides a snapshot of preparedness behaviours, risk perception and strength of community relations. This helps cities rapidly identify public policies and concrete actions that they can take based on the specific traits of each community, including geography, history, culture and habits.

Systemic inequalities and historical patterns of poverty have resulted in lower coping and planning capacities and unequal access to services. The urban poor are amongst those most affected and exposed to climate risks, and few cities have accounted for this in urban planning and policies.

Rather than implement one-size-fits-all solutions, cities will do better to address climate change if they understand communities’ different needs and capabilities to respond to climate impacts. The project will scale-up urban resilience in informal settlements by improving the resilience evidence base together with communities. It will involve collecting information at the neighbourhood level and using the UCRA tool to track resilience-building and plan community actions, such as training and education, infrastructure improvements and community early warning systems.

The project will be co-implemented with 100 Resilient Cities, pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation, and undertaken in close collaboration with Shack/Slum Dwellers International (SDI), drawing on their expertise with engaging communities in data collection. The project will work with slum communities in the three cities to design small projects to address resilience gaps and needs identified through a combination of the UCRA and the overall city resilience planning process. The goal is to move these projects from the idea stage to investment-ready status.

The UCRA benefits cities by consolidating previously unavailable and dispersed data into a comprehensive framework, helping resilience planners gain a more nuanced understanding of community-level vulnerabilities and their resilience to climate change. Its indicators draw upon community-level data, as well as household-level surveys to provide new evidence to inform investment, leverage community resources, and build social cohesion and individual capacities as a complement to climate-resilient physical infrastructure planning.

The project will be implemented under the Cities Alliance Joint Work Programme on Resilient Cities, whose objective is to 'strengthen global partnerships and local resilience strategies to facilitate the flow of knowledge and resources to enhance city resilience tools, approaches, and capacity development interventions within long-term urban planning processes that also address informality and the working urban poor’. The project represents a growing partnership between WRI, including its Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, and the Cities Alliance.

For more information contact:

Priscilla Ofori-Amanfo, Cities Alliance,, Tel.(+32) 2880 4219

Lauren Zelin, World Resources Institute,, Tel. (+1 202) 729-7736


About Cities Alliance

Cities Alliance is the global partnership for reducing poverty and promoting the role of cities in sustainable development.

Partnerships are critical to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Cities Alliance brings together organisations with different perspectives and expertise on city issues around common goals: well-run, productive cities that provide opportunities for all residents. Our members include multilateral organisations, national governments, local government associations, international NGOs, private sector, foundations and academia.

The United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) hosts the Cities Alliance Secretariat, which is based in Brussels.

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About World Resources Institute WRI is a global research organization that spans more than 50 countries, with offices in the United States, Brazil, China, India, Mexico and more. Our more than 550 experts and staff work closely with leaders to turn big ideas into action at the nexus of environment, economic opportunity and human well-being.

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