Climate change governance in cities


Good governance is essential if cities are to become more resilient to climate change. Local authorities, citizen groups and the private sector need to work together, and with institutions at national and global levels, to address this.

Semarang, Indonesia: One of the ten initial cities in the Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network, Semarang has been a pioneer in integrating climate change resilience into city planning and management. (Photo: David Dodman/IIED)

In order to build the capacity of cities and city actors to adapt to climate change, an improved understanding of the nature of risk and vulnerability in urban centres is required.

This includes reviewing the urban and national politics of adaptation to climate change, the role of community-based action at the local level, and generating greater knowledge on the potential and actual roles of local authorities in building resilience in cities.

This evidence base can inform the development of city resilience strategies and national policy frameworks that engage with climate change impacts alongside broader sustainable development and poverty reduction approaches.

What IIED is doing

As urban areas have only recently been recognised as increasingly at risk from climate change impacts, IIED has focused on expanding the body of evidence on climate change and cities. This ranges describing vulnerability of urban residents to documenting strategies for resilience, as applied by stakeholders including community groups, local authorities, and national governments. 

There is a dedicated section on 'climate change and cities' in each issue of Environment and Urbanization resulting in more than 50 papers on this topic, highlighting many examples from cities which have begun to address climate change adaptation.

We have also supported the capacity of local research institutions to generate new evidence and documentation on urban climate resilience through our role as regional partner in the Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network. We provide teaching to postgraduate students in the UK, as well as international training courses for local government officials to build their capacity to adapt their cities to climate change.

Taken together, these activities provide a solid base of case studies, evidence and capacity building, which can contribute to better targeted and more informed decision-making for climate change resilience at the city scale, national and global scale.


Drivers of Climate Change vulnerability at different scales in Karachi, Arif Hasan, Arif Pervaiz, Mansoor Raza (2017), IIED Working paper

Climate vulnerability and adaptation in the Semarang Metropolitan Area: a spatial and demographic analysis, Wahyu Mulyana, David Dodman, Sainan Zhang and Daniel Schensul (2013), IIED & UNFPA Technical Briefing

Climate change responses in Zimbabwe: local actions and national policy, Donald Brown, David Dodman and Sherpard Zvigadza (2013), IIED Briefing paper

Additional resources

Towards resilience and transformation for cities within a finite planet, David Satterthwaite and David Dodman (2013), IIED Environment and Urbanization Brief

List of Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network publications

The national and local politics of climate change adaptation in Zimbabwe, David Dodman and Diana Mitlin (2014), Taylor & Francis, Climate and Development journal



Was this page useful to you?

Thank you for your feedback.