An Analytical Review: A Decade of Urban Resilience

Monday, 3 January, 2022

An Analytical Review: A Decade of Urban Resilience

by UNDP and ODI | Published on 3 December 2021


In an already urbanized world, an increasing concentration of people, development assets, infrastructure, socio-economic vulnerabilities, and convergence of risks of multiple hues in cities and urban agglomerations underscores the need for an integrated approach towards resilience building. This is evidenced by the fact that cities today account for 55% of humanity, 70% of GHG emissions, and 80% of global GDP. It is estimated that nearly 84% of the fastest-growing cities face high vulnerability to disaster/climate risks, putting $4 trillion worth of assets at risk. Nearly 43% of people in fragile contexts are living in cities, and that number is expected to rise to 48% by 2030 and 59% by 2050.

‘A Decade of Urban Resilience: An Analytical Review’ analyzes urban risk and resilience-related policies and frameworks, flagship programs implemented, and the tools deployed to diagnose urban resilience over the past decade to identify existing, unmet demands and emerging priorities. The review is complemented by perspectives of experts and practitioners from academia, private sector, civil society, think tanks, development partners and donors, IFIs, government entities, UN agencies UNDP's global, regional, and Country Office teams drawn from different thematic workstreams.


  • Cities concentrate on risks and these risks are becoming more complex.
  • The threats may be similar but the interrelationships and ways in which impacts are propagated through urban systems will be different.
  • Risk assessments focus mainly on the stocks or assets that could be damaged or lost. They do not fully capture the knock-on effects and consequences of a disaster.
  • In most city governments and their development partners, specialized agencies focus on parts of the system rather than critical points of failure within the whole system.
  • Systems thinking means looking holistically at urban systems (socioeconomic, physical, environmental), services, capacities, and resources, and paying close attention to power relations and the political economy of urban development and risk management to drive meaningful change.
  • Strengthening urban resilience is a political, as well as technical, endeavor; institutional arrangements and policy choices have different outcomes for different urban groups, and there may be trade-offs.

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