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Towards resilience and transformation for cities within a finite planet

Development, disaster risk management and climate change adaptation and mitigation all have a common concern with reducing risk and protecting vulnerable populations – although they may focus on different risks and time scales. All cities need to become resilient to climate change’s direct and indirect impacts and to build this into infrastructure investments, development plans and disaster risk management. But most city governments lack the capacity to do so. No city can be resilient if it has large deficits in risk-reducing infrastructure, little or no public investment capacity and little possibility of managing land use, new construction and urban expansion in ways that support resilience.

Meanwhile, achieving the needed global reduction in greenhouse gas emissions seems impossible if private capital can seek the highest monetary returns and prosperous individuals can have high consumption lifestyles, whatever their ecological consequences (including those related to climate change). We know that cities can be places where development needs are met (including a high quality of life) and resilience to climate change (and other disaster catalysts) built while keeping down greenhouse gas emissions. But we do not know how to get movement on these at the needed scale and speed.

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