The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


Climate Resilience in Cities

The frequency of floods, drought, unusually high temperatures and other shocks are projected to increase globally due to climate change. Action-research has been undertaken by the DPU in Bangladesh and Mozambique, exploring the intersection of urbanisation and climate change, with a focus on the generation and distribution of risks, vulnerabilities, and opportunities in the urban Global South more broadly. It examines how different epistemic communities frame these challenges, and traces the planned responses and everyday practices that seek to build more resilient cities.

DPU research has highlighted the importance of moving beyond traditional governmental and developmental responses related to the management and mitigation of climate change (such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions or responding to natural disasters), to exploring how cities can be better adapted to adjust to the changing climate. How can a model of urban planning that responds to conditions of rising sea levels, floods, or climate variability be conceived?

DPU research and thinking on climate resilience examines two key facets of this interrelation between climate change and urbanisation:

  1. We look specifically at the future of cities by focusing on the production and regulation of urban risks and vulnerabilities associated with climate change, energy systems, and vital ecosystem services.
  2. We examine the practices of ordinary citizens in creating environmentally just and resilient urban transitions. Going beyond traditional conceptions of resilience as defined by coping capacities, DPU research has underlined the important role community-developed strategies can play in informing the design of policy and planned responses for urban resilience at the local, national and international levels.

Research Projects


Development of a Public Private People Partnership for Climate Compatible Development in Maputo, Mozambique
Funded by CDKN, 4PCCD is a project examining the potential of partnerships between public, private and civil society actors to bridge the gap between rhetoric and action in climate change policy. In creating the conditions for climate compatible development, partnerships may act as a bridge between development and environmental concerns. Existing examples, such as the successful waste management system in Maputo, Mozambique, show the potential of approaches that engage a wide range of actors to develop synergies for the achievement of common objectives. However there are also risks in the use of partnerships as a form of governance.


Future Proofing Cities
A landmark report has been produced out of this collaboration with Atkins and the UK DfID. The report explores how cities in the global south are facing significant risks to growth and poverty reduction from climate change, resource scarcities and damage to vital ecosystems. The report puts forward a wide variety of policy option currently being used by urban managers globally to future proof their urban development before they are locked into unsustainable development pathways.


Adaptation to Climate Change in Cities, Dhaka, Bangladesh
This research sought to understand how the impacts of climate change in Bangladesh are going to affect the urban poor in Dhaka and to address plans for adaptation at the local (neighbourhood) level that will address vulnerability. The emphasis is on physical environment and the aspects contributing to adaptation in built environment, and what can be done to address these vulnerabilities.
TheBritish Council Higher Education Link Programme provided funding for exchange of researchers between Bangladesh and the UK to support the development of co-operation which contributes to staff and institutional capacity building in Bangladesh.