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Vulnerability profiling of cities: a framework for climate-resilient urban development in India

This working paper presents a holistic approach for how a city can customise its rapid vulnerability assessment in order to understand what is required for building climate resilience. The framework can be used to highlight the potential impact of climate change on urban services arising from the geographical setting of a city; the nature, size and density of its settlements; and the existing coping capacity of its society and governance system. The situation is aggravated by growing urban populations, high urban poverty and backlogs in the provision of basic infrastructure and services. Currently, a structured approach and the use of datasets to understand the distribution of vulnerability to climate change impacts across India are lacking. The framework proposed here provides a systematic approach to preparing vulnerability profiles in cities, by creating datasets which enable an initial analysis of vulnerability. The framework considers the sensitivity and exposure of the cities. It also highlights the need for integration of climate-resilience considerations in urban planning.

The framework known as HIGS (hazard exposure, infrastructure, governance, socio-economic variables) is positioned as a rapid assessment methodology. The framework consists of gathering relevant data in each category in order to identify key vulnerabilities and their linkages with natural causes, sustainable practices and the capacities of the concerned authorities.
This framework has been tested on twenty Indian cities that have diverse physiographic and demographic characteristics. In this paper, the challenges of selecting and aggregating vulnerability indicators in the Indian context are also discussed. The viability of the HIGS framework is demonstrated by two city case studies, each representing different physiographic characteristics, hazard exposures and population sizes.

Publication information

  • IIED code: 10657IIED
  • Published: Mar 2014 - IIED
  • Area: India
  • Theme: Urban
  • ISBN: 978-1-78431-027-1
  • Language: English

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Project information

The Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network (ACCCRN) is an eight-year, multi-country initiative working with cities across the world to increase resilience to climate change. IIED is a regional partner within ACCCRN.

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Strengthening knowledge on urban climate resilience