Communities are addressing a growing range of challenges arising from chronic climate impacts like sea-level rise or extreme weather conditions exacerbated by climate change, like flooding or drought.
These physical impacts are also affecting cities’ economies and their ability to be competitive in a changing climate, as we explore in our report The Resilience Factor: A Competitive Edge for Climate-Ready Cities. For example, cities are facing real, but largely unquantified financial impacts that drain local budgets and put municipal credit ratings at risk. Climate impacts can also hinder cities’ ability to attract new businesses by damaging private-sector assets and real estate, and by disrupting supply chains, utility systems, and transportation networks. Further, city competitiveness also relies on offering a high quality of life for all residents, but climate change is threatening this too, especially for historically marginalized communities.
Fortunately, cities have tools to address the physical and economic risks of climate change and actually enhance their competitive edge. These include, for example: upgrading infrastructure to ensure it can withstand extreme weather, changing transit routes, updating building codes, improving neighborhood cohesion, engaging in resilience planning across city departments, economic agencies, communities, and the private sector, and prioritizing investments in vulnerable and marginalized communities.
To be effective, local resilience efforts must build the capacity of the entire community – including individual residents, neighborhoods, businesses, city planners and first responders – to cope with both chronic stresses like increasing temperatures and acute shocks like extreme weather events. Resilience is not new for most cities; it is an ongoing effort to align city functions and resources in ways that benefit residents, businesses, and the environment today and in the future.