Five things for cities to consider in adapting to climate change impacts

All cities are tackling climate change which is becoming more and more extreme. The problem with climate change is that it is a “global environmental problem”. The global community is attempting to find solutions to address climate change within a limited time frame. Several international conferences on climate change have been held over the years, including the recent 26th session of the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (COP26) in the United Kingdom

During a conversation with Asst Prof Dr Wijitbusaba (Ann) Marome, Head of Thammasat University, Research Unit in Urban Futures and Policy, and the Newton Fund Institutional Links Grantee, she came up with the concept of a “Resilient City”, with the ability to adapt to climate change. Dr Wijitbusaba shared her thoughts and opinions with us on how a city and people living in it can better cope with climate change.

Dr Wijitbusaba emphasised that to solve this global problem, governments can no longer focus on the same policies they implemented 10 years ago. Climate change threatens every aspect of human life, and that is why it is necessary to create a community of practitioners for “translating knowledge into action” to deal effectively with the problem. Several interesting ideas arose from the discussion. Dr Wijitbusaba suggested that five things must be considered to increase the ability of cities to adapt and become more resilient to the impacts of climate change.

  1. Localise resilience. Simply adjusting the city structure is not enough; people in the city must adapt too. 
  2. Co-benefits. Consider the potential co-benefits of adjusting the city structure to the people's quality of life. 
  3. Socialise resilience. When facing a crisis, if no “Local Responsive Mechanism” exists, people in the community will be unable to predict the type of problems that might arise. Good communication and understanding of the community’s way of life are very important as the uncertainty involved must be acknowledged.
  4. Adaptive law and regulations. Laws and regulations must be adapted, especially concerning policy and urban planning. 
  5. Risk Assessment. Finally, cities need to know how to assess and predict potential risks and plan to deal with them more effectively.  

In summary, to create a Resilient City, it is essential to consider the people’s way of life in the community in readiness for adapting to change, especially from the effects of climate change. The United Kingdom is one country with globally connected cities. 

The UK has many initiatives for supporting the development of cities in countries around the world. One such initiative is The Global Future Cities Programme, which is part of the British government's Prosperity Fund. The programme provides grants for the development of 19 cities around the world, with the aim of providing technical assistance, promoting sustainable development, and alleviating poverty. Dr Wijitbusaba is a local delivery partner in this project, supporting the development of the BTS Bang Wa area in Thailand. She works with policymakers to develop the area according to the international principle of the Transit-Oriented Development Plan (TODP). This project will make the area more inclusive and increase the benefits to people who live there.