UNDP Urban Risk Management and Resilience Strategy

Monday, 3 January, 2022

UNDP Urban Risk Management and Resilience Strategy: Address multiple risks and build resilience in small and medium-sized cities to make them safe, inclusive and prosperous places that leave no one behind

by UNDP | 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. 

The ‘Urban Risk Management and Resilience Strategy’ is aimed at advancing the UNDP Strategic Plan outcomes with ramped action at city and local levels, helping localize the SDGs and protecting hard-earned development gains against multidimensional and systemic risks to build resilience. 


UNDP has extensive experience with development policy and practice in urban areas, although this has not been guided by an explicitly articulated strategy. Over the past decade, it has supported disaster risk reduction, climate mitigation, adaptation, governance, sustainable development, and socio-economic and livelihood interventions in cities through a variety of programmes, frameworks, methodologies and tools.

This paper articulates a clear strategy for taking forward this work, building on UNDP’s experience and expertise and the different entry points of its various practice areas, and brings these together to offer a comprehensive, coordinated and multi-dimensional approach to urban resilience.

The vision for this strategy is to create a future where small and medium-sized cities in particular, and urban areas in general, are resilient to multiple risks and are safe, inclusive and prosperous places to live and work. Over the next 10 years, UNDP will work principally in small and medium-sized cities in low income, lower-middle-income, and least developed countries and Small Island Developing States (LICs, LMICs, LDCs and SIDS) to strengthen their capacity to reduce multiple risks, protect development gains and create more resilient urban societies, laying the foundations for sustainable development in an increasingly urbanized world to ensure no one is left behind.

UNDP will focus its efforts and activities around five Strategic Priorities, each of which responds to an identified gap in current support offered to countries and cities on urban resilience. These Strategic Priorities build on UNDP’s strengths and will help to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030:

  1. Prioritize locations where the greatest capacity gaps exist
  2. Enhance engagement of diverse stakeholders to strengthen urban governance
  3. Target the needs of marginalized communities for more equitable urban resilience
  4. Strengthen risk-informed development planning and investments to protect development gains
  5. Support application/adoption of new technologies and innovation to secure resilient urban futures.

Engaging on the urban resilience agenda requires a shift in the way UNDP’s practice areas or its Global Policy Network engage with regional teams and country offices. At the global level, teams will need to come together to make three clear offers to regional bureaus and country offices:

  • To help drive common standards on urban resilience policy and practice
  • To provide a joined-up offer of technical and programmatic support on request
  • To facilitate the systematic and organic exchange of best practice and knowledge on urban resilience.

UNDP’s work on urban resilience and risk management will be conducted in partnership with international and regional development partners and other stakeholders. It will build on existing work across practice areas and thematic teams, combining these efforts with new streams of work that can collectively contribute to more resilient cities.

Access the full report here:

or download the attached PDF of the full report.