World Resource Institute

Resilient Cities Action Track

For more information or to get involved, please contact Smita Rawoot.

Adapting to climate change is an imperative for cities, which are home to half of the world’s population and produce 80 percent of the world’s GDP. Cities face serious climate risks. Done right, climate adaptation can put cities on a stronger, safer path, while also tackling persistent problems like poverty and inequality. The Global Commission on Adaptation’s flagship report, Adapt Now, calls for redoubling the effort to build more resilient, equitable cities and lays out a pathway to get there.

The Commission is mobilizing many partners to achieve this goal, through the Resilient Cities Action Track. Together we will work with cities to pursue four key activities in 2020: develop city-wide resilience strategies; implement nature-based solutions and water resilience actions; and build the resilience of the urban poor.

Action Track Goal:

By 2030, the Commission’s Resilient Cities Action Track aims to:

  • Assist 500 cities in implementing comprehensive climate resilience strategies.
  • Support 60 cities in implementing nature-based solutions (NBS) to address their climate risks.
  • Help 140 cities implement climate resilience policies that address the needs of the urban poor.
  • Launch two regional Urban Water Resilience Accelerators, in Africa and India, which advance the water resilience of 15 cities in each region.

1.  Transformative climate resilience planning and capacity building in cities

Cities are complex systems with millions of moving parts and many concentrated risks. Their complexity and scale make them vulnerable to disruptions — and when bottlenecks or disasters strike, the ripple effects and economic losses can quickly spiral. To effectively implement measures that will future-proof and adapt their urban systems to climate change, cities need to develop holistic and integrated approaches that will ensure a systemic transformation change that leaves no one behind. Co-creating a vision, building tactical plans, and building the internal capacity to design and deliver investable projects are critical enabling factors toward transformative climate adaptation.

This require a matrix of activities and programs that build and scale up existing successful initiatives. and experience within Cities from across the globe. This initiative will focus on city-to-city collaboration and peer learning supported by partners from across sectors. The initiative will be fostered through strong partnerships with and among city networks such as C40 and the Global Resilient Cities Network.

Key 2020 deliverables

By Oct 2020, a Declaration on Climate Resilience, launched during the Mayors Forum and the Climate Adaptation Summit, supported by city networks (representing 150 cities). Cities will commit to develop Climate Adaptation Strategies and implement NBS, Water resilience, and focus on the most vulnerable. In addition, cities will commit to share experiences and give technical assistance to 10 cities in the coming decade, which means that in total 1,500 cities will be supported.

Key 2030 deliverable

By 2030, 500 cities will have a comprehensive Climate Resilience Strategy and started implementing their adaptation action plans. They will do so by applying and upscaling the Adaptation Academy model (co-created by C40-Rotterdam), which will be unrolled via the regional Global Centre on Adaptation offices, which enables a tailormade approach. Specific priority will be given to large- and medium-sized cities in Africa. Serving the first 50 cities in a programmatic way requires $10 million.


Global Centre for Adaptation, C40, and the Global Resilient Cities Network.

2.  Advance nature-based solutions in cities to reduce climate risks

Working with Cities4Forest and other partners, we will help a coalition of 60 cities integrate nature-based solutions (NBS) into spatial planning, investments, and infrastructure implementation to reduce their climate risks. We will develop toolkits, policy notes, and guidance documents. We will also set up a Project Preparation Facility (PPF) to disseminate these products, build the capacity of city stakeholders, provide customized technical assistance to cities, and eventually, deploy grants, loans, and equity for NBS projects.

Key 2020 deliverables

By Oct 2020, 60 cities commit to advancing nature-based solutions for climate adaptation. In addition, the coalition will announce a partnership to establish an NBS-focused Project Preparation Facility (PPF) or support existing PPFs in developing NBS expertise.

Key 2030 deliverable

By 2030, 60 cities enhance, invest, and implement 100-300 nature-based solution projects to address climate risks and improve the health and wellbeing of urban residents and the biodiversity of cities.


Cities4Forests, Deltares, Geo-Adaptive, Earth Economics, World Bank, The Nature Conservancy, Conservation International, and others.

3.  Build the climate resilience of the urban poor

We will work with the Building Community Resilience for the Urban Poor (BCRUP) program, led by UN Habitat and a coalition of partners, to integrate and prioritize the resilience of vulnerable and marginalized communities in 140 urban areas. We will mainstream climate resilience of vulnerable and marginalized communities in city-level plans and ensure that plans to upgrade infrastructure in informal settlements integrate climate resilience.

Key 2020 deliverable

12 cities commit to implement community-validated vulnerability assessments, develop inclusive climate adaptation policies, and integrate climate resilience in settlement upgrade plans and infrastructure improvements in informal settlements.

Key 2030 deliverable

By 2030, 140 cities commit to implement inclusive climate adaptation policies and integrate climate resilience into settlement upgrade plans and infrastructure improvements in informal settlements.


UN Habitat, SDI, ITC, Government of Brazil and Government of Kenya, ICLEI, C40, GCOM, ISOCARP, P4CA, AECOM, Arcadis, Arup, IIED, University of Twente-ITC, UCCRN, UNDRR, UNDP, EC, Cities Alliance, Rockefeller Foundation, Centre for Resilience, World Pop Project, and World Resources Institute.

4.  Support a network of cities to develop and implement more resilient water systems

We will launch an urban water action platform, which will provide a vision for integrated water action and galvanize political commitment for cities to act on context-specific water challenges through a peer-partner network. In Africa, we will build a coalition of partners to develop and implement water resilience actions in six pilot cities, eventually scaling to a pan-African network of cities. We will model this same effort in India.

Key 2020 deliverable

Launch an Africa Urban Water Resilience Accelerator by 2020 and the India Urban Water Resilience Accelerator by 2021.

Long-term target

By 2030, build and launch 2 regional urban water resilience accelerators, in Africa and India, that will implement water resilience actions in 4-5 priority areas; scale impact from the initial cohort of 6 cities to 15 cities in each region through a peer-partner network. These regional accelerator models will inform the scaling of urban water resilience in 100 cities, as described in the Water Action Track, through a larger coalition of partners.


BMZ (Germany), World Resources Institute, Global Resilient Cities Network, Arup, and others.

Key Events and Milestones

Below are select key milestones and events for 2020, where Commissioners and partners can engage and support the Action Track. Partnerships are essential to the success of this Action Track, and we welcome new partners. Partners can engage by providing technical, political, or financial support that contributes to the Action Track goals, and by amplifying the initiatives.

  • World Urban Forum – Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates – Feb. 8-13
    • Announce working groups and additional commitments for the BCRUP initiative (Building the Climate Resilience of the Urban Poor)
  • Adaptation Futures 2020 – New Delhi, India – April 27-30
    • Disseminate research findings from the Commission’s Cities background paper, and update stakeholders on the Action Track
  • UN World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought – Berlin – June 17
    • Announce takeaways from the framing paper and launch the Africa regional water accelerator
  • World Water Week 2020 – Stockholm, Sweden – Aug. 23-28
    • Present finance guidance and database at World Water Week
  • Mayors Forum on Adaptation – Oct. 21
    • Launch the Declaration on Adaptation
  • Adaptation Summit 2020 – Amsterdam, Netherlands – Oct. 22
    • Announce commitments from 40 cities & partners for Urban NBS action
  • COP 26 – Glasgow, UK – Nov. 9-19
    • Announce high-level commitments by 60+ mayors for Urban NBS and launch NBS Project Preparation Facility