Report: Top storm-resilient cities have high adaptive capacity

Adaptability centers on infrastructure, resources to bounce back from disasters

May 08, 2014 |
Photo: Matthiasb via Wikimedia Commons

The most resilient cities in the world, including six in the U.S., have attributes that would enable them to recover better than others from devastating natural disasters.

A report by Grosvenor examined 50 major cities around the world and ranked them on their vulnerability and adaptive capacity in terms of their infrastructure, community, resources, environment, and climate.

Two-thirds of people will live in urban areas by 2050, according to U.N. estimates, so city planners face daunting challenges to cope with the impact of climate change and population growth. The top three resilient cities are Canadian (Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary), and six of the top 10 are from the U.S., led by Chicago and Pittsburgh.

The report examines five categories of vulnerability: climate, environment, resources, infrastructure, and community. The five categories of adaptability include governance, institutions, technical capacity, planning systems, and funding structures.

“Resources,” encompasses a city’s access to energy, food, and water. “Funding structures” covers the ability to borrow and tap into national and international money.

“The strong U.S. ranking is due to adaptive capacity, where resources, public accountability of elected officials, and the technology of the U.S. are dominating factors,” the report says. “This suggests that U.S. cities will continue to see a pattern of effective public intervention, but often only after a major shock has occurred.”“The least resilient cities are the ones facing the greatest pressure to grow,” the report says. “High rates of population growth, while beneficial to production and culture in the long term, are likely to challenge improved adaptive capacity in the short term.”


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