Understanding Risks and Vulnerabilities in the Urban Context

Friday, 19 February, 2021 - 08:00 to 09:30
Eastern Standard Time (EST)
Friday, 19 February, 2021

Urban Risk Management and Resilience Strategy - Webinar #2: Understanding Risks and Vulnerabilities in the Urban Context

“Cities are where the climate battle will largely be won or lost.” – Antonio Guterres, UNSG

Date and Time: Friday, 19 February 2021 | 8 AM - 9:30 AM EST

The link for the upcoming webinar:

Experience from the Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated the high exposure of cities to multiple risks and has unearthed latent socio-economic vulnerabilities. In fact, Covid is one manifestation of an increasing trend of “urbanization of risks”. Many of the risks that impede development today like climate change, disaster risks, inequalities, poverty, marginalization, environmental degradation etc. are increasingly finding excruciating reflection in cities/urban spaces.

Today, around 90% of urban expansion in developing countries takes place near hazard-prone areas.  Without urgent action, climate change and disasters may cost cities worldwide $314bn each year and push up to 77 million urban residents into poverty.

The consequences of urbanization have wide-ranging ramifications on the lives of people, communities and the planet. The economic growth associated with urbanization (transport, building construction and maintenance, housing, waste management, energy, etc.) has had environmental and social trade-offs. Moreover, poorly planned urbanization has led to the growth of slums, unsafe housing, segregation and exclusion. According to the PwC analysis for UN Population Division, nearly 90% of the additional 2.5 billion urban inhabitants will be living in developing countries.

The emergence of cities as engines of socio-economic development means concentration of people, economic activities, development assets, critical infrastructure as well as risks of multiple hues in a small geographical area. This confluence and interplay get amplified by latent socio-economic vulnerabilities. As observed in the IPCC 2014 Report, the vulnerability to risks in cities goes beyond mere exposure to disaster/climate risks as many cities in developing countries “are caught in a `perfect storm’ of population growth, escalating adaptation needs and substantial development deficits created by a shortage of human and financial resources, increasing levels of informality, poor governance, environmental degradation, biodiversity loss, poverty and growing inequality”.

There is a critical interdependence between the fact that vulnerability to hazards is shaped not only by exposure and vulnerability but also by factors including socio-economic variables (e.g., security of tenure, access to social safety nets, poverty, access to livelihoods, eco-system services and other inequities). Given the fact that the center of action vis-à-vis reducing/managing typologies of risks as well as development imperatives is increasingly gravitating towards urban spaces across countries and development contexts, the Webinar Series seeks to further delve deeper into the risk management and resilience building imperatives to identify potential opportunities for fostering a comprehensive multi-pronged approach.

The first Webinar focused on Overview of Urban Risk Management and Resilience and deliberated upon understanding and diagnosing urban resilience, identifying the principles characterizing the same, looking at the systems’ thinking and approach as applicable in urban context and the UNDP-UN-Habitat collaborative framework to advance these objectives.

As the second discussion in this direction, the Webinar will analyse how specific typologies of risks and vulnerabilities are finding increasing manifestation in urban areas and are mutually reinforcing each other to magnify impacts. They are assuming hitherto unforeseen dimensions, affecting more and more socio-economic sectors and segments of society. This makes it essential to examine these risks, assess underlying vulnerabilities, identify gaps in social protection instruments and the criticality of natural resource management for urban resilience. 

The Webinar will have experienced stakeholders from national government/DM agencies with deep insight into the issues and UNDP practitioners sharing their perspectives. The discussion will provide an opportunity to better understand how these risks manifest, vulnerabilities operate, look at gaps in socio-economic support and the centrality of nature-based solutions to make cities and urban areas resilient.

The proposed Agenda for the Webinar on 19 Feb 2021 will be as under viz.

Time (8.00-9.30am EST)




Welcome and Setting the Context

Ronald Jackson, Head, DRT


Key Findings from the analytical review of urban risk management and resilience initiatives

Emily Wilkinson, ODI


Increasing exposure and vulnerability in urban areas -- disaster and climate risk management

Kamal Kishore, Member, National DM Authority, Govt. of India


Increasing exposure and vulnerability in urban areas – conflict and fragility reduction

Rachel Scott, Sr. Partnership & Policy Advisor, CFPET, Crisis Bureau/UNDP


Increasing socio-economic vulnerabilities in urban areas – social protection, poverty and inequality

Renata Rubian, Policy Advisor, Inclusive Growth Team, BPPS/UNDP


Increasing risk and vulnerabilities in urban areas – harnessing the potential of nature-based solutions to reduce risks and foster adaptation

Jamison Ervin, Manager, Nature-Based Solutions Team, BPPS/UNDP



Moderated by Ronald Jackson

The link to Sparkblue page:

The perspectives emerging from the deliberations will inform the finalization of the Urban Risk Management and Resilience Strategy Paper while also feeding into the UNDP/CB Visibility Month discussions as well as the discussions related to the UNDP Strategic Plan (2022-2025).

For further information, please reach out to:

Photo: Representational Image from Unsplash by REVOLT (@revolt)