New film captures how Asian cities are responding to climate change


FULL VIDEO available here!

According to Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, released by the UN intergovernmental panel on climate change in March this year, Asian cities are expected to suffer particularly acutely from the impacts of global warming. Flooding, heat stress, extreme precipitation, drought and water scarcity are already having a profound effect on city dwellers across the continent. Through a three year project to increase local urban resilience, eight cities in India and the Philippines have been working to lessen climate change impacts in their cities.

The AsianCitiesAdapt project brought together science and policy to support local governments in developing a local response to climate change. Working with scientists from the Indian Institute for Technology Delhi, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (Germany) and ICLEI offices in Europe, South Asia and Southeast Asia, cities focused on making the most of limited resources to come up with effective climate change adaptation strategies.

In a film released at the Resilient Cities 2014 Conference in Bonn (Germany) last Friday, city officials and scientists shared their experiences of developing and implementing local action plans. Participants placed a particular emphasis on the importance of good communication, forward planning and simple actions to help communities cope in increasingly difficult urban conditions. Film makers Bernd Hezel and Ephraim Broschkowski from the Climate Media Factory in Potsdam (Germany) were also present to answer questions from audience members.

The four Indian cities that were a part of the AsianCitiesAdapt project were Howrah, Madurai, Kochi and Vishakhapatnam. The video features the city of Howrah, together with interviews of the ICLEI South Asia project team and Professor Dash, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi.

AsianCitiesAdapt has been part of the International Climate Initiative. The Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety supports this initiative on the basis of a decision adopted by the German Bundestag.

To know more about the activities of the ACA project in the South Asian region, visit:

AsianCitiesAdapt Learning Exchange in Cochin big success!


The Main Outcomes of the event are now available! Click here to download the document.

'This conference helped make policy-makers and bureaucrats aware about environmental threats to people. Let us all work together towards making our cities more resilient through a cooperation between science and governance.' These were the final words of Mayor Tony Chammany, at the end the AsianCitiesAdapt: Learning Exchange that took place in Cochin on 30-31 October and brought together more than 100 participants from India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Maldives, Bangladesh, the Philippines and Europe, including representatives from over 20 cities.

The workshop, inaugurated by the Mayor of Cochin, was opened with statements from the guests of honor, including Mayor Maizan Ali Manik, Male city (Maldives); Mayor Zulfikar Ali, Mongla and Mayor Shamim Al Razi, Singra (Bangladesh) and Deputy Mayor Tikender S. Panwar, from Shimla (India). Cochin Deputy Mayor, Mrs Bhadra welcomed all participants.

The workshop was co-organized by Cochin Municipal Corporation and ICLEI South Asia , as part of AsianCitiesAdapt, a project that brought together science, policy and practice to help four cities in India (Howrah, Madurai, Visakhapatnam and Kochi) and four cities in the Philippines (Baguio, Dagupan, San Fernando, Tuguegarao) to take the first steps towards developing appropriate adaptation strategies for their respective cities.

The two days of intense and interactive discussions between city representatives, scientists, practitioners and climate experts brought to light the current challenges that cities are facing, due to a changing climate, as well as a number of suggestions and solutions on how to support the cities’ climate proofing process.

Changes in governance and planning processes at all levels and a greater sense of ownership among local governments to incorporate climate adaptation perspectives came up as the main needs to facilitate the mainstreaming climate change into conventional development.

The crucial role of science in helping cities understand how climate change might affect them was unquestioned. However, the accuracy of scientific predictions are dependent on the quality of local data that is available, which can be a constraining factor. “Scientists might not always be able to give definite answers” commented Prof Javier, from the University of the Philippines, “but uncertainty should not be a reason not to act”

Communication emerged as one of the main gaps and at the same time one of the main drivers of a proper adaptation strategy. Communication to raise awareness, as was pointed out by Mayor Manik, from Male City in the Maldives: “Our beautiful islands are threatened by sea level rise. We need to educate our people and make them aware of how they can protect themselves from climate change impacts”. The need for greater communication between all main stakeholders, particularly between science and policy, was echoed by Deputy Mayor Mr. Tikendar Panwar, from Shimla, when he said “A much closer relationship between climate and social scientists and urban planners is needed, so that urban and economic development takes into account upcoming climate changes”.

What came out very clearly was also the need to localize climate change and link it to current issues in the city; its impacts must be communicated in a language that the common people – the first ones to suffer from them - can understand, and thus can relate to them. Co-creating the messages, tailoring them to the beneficiaries’ needs and linking them to local culture and tradition, will increase the chances of its acceptance. In support of this, as part of the Asian Cities Adapt project, ICLEI South Asia has prepared draft guidelines for Communication Strategies for Climate Change Adaptation for each of the four Indian project cities, including Kochi. These documents were circulated to the participants who were invited to provide their feedback and suggestions.

Cities are in a privileged position to become drivers of climate adaptation drivers, thanks also to the funding opportunities available, be it through international funding programmes, through self-generation of revenues or by partnering up with the private sector. Investing in adaptation measures is good for business, as addressing a potential risk now will help saving considerable damage-related costs later.

The relevance of the discussions over the last two days and the need for such opportunities for sharing of information and best practices among cities was summed up by Mayor Shamim Ali Razi, Singra Municipality, Bangladesh “I will take back the learning from this workshop to my community and work with them to make the city of Singra more resilient.”

For more details on the event and to download the PPT's, click here.

Indian cities adapting to climate change on stage at Resilient Cities 2013


“Taking the right decisions under uncertainty: What do local governments need?” was the tagline of the session organised as part of the AsianCitiesAdapt (ACA) project at the Resilient Cities 2013 conference, that took place on 31 May - 2 June in Bonn, Germany. The session focused on how researchers and decision-makers can make up for the current gaps in knowledge and move forward with their adaptation processes.

Despite the, sometimes, lack of data that are reliable, of good quality and up-to-date, the need to move forward with those available was emphasised. Language barriers between science and cities were highlighted as another current difficulty; developing local knowledge and capacity building was identified as one of the solutions to it, together with inter-organisation collaboration and coordination and with the sharing of information among different countries. Bringing in local universities, scientific, and research partners– as it was done in the ACA project – is also another way to fill the knowledge gap and can be extremely beneficial to advancing local adaptation efforts.

The need to involve the scientific community in the city’s resilience planning was acknowledged by Mr Chammany, Mayor of Cochin, one of the Indian cities involved in the project, who also stated "Scientists have knowledge, politicians have power. Combining the two will bring social change".

The AsianCitiesAdapt project is supported by the Federal Ministry for the Enviroment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety based on a decision of the Parliament of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Eight Asian cities meet to share and assess project experiences

A series of meetings bringing together partners and city associates were organized in the Philippines from 26 to 28 November to allow four cities in India (Howrah, Madurai, Kochi and Visakhapatnam) and four cities in the Philippines (Baguio, Dagupan, San Fernando, and Tuguegarao) to share their experiences with the project AsianCitiesAdapt. The project has found parts of the ACCCRN toolkit useful in its work in the four Indian cities of Howrah, Vizag, Madurai and Kochi. The cities are currently midway through this process, and a stakeholder meeting to validate results will be held in January 2013.

Howrah’s slums affected by climate change

Under the AsianCitiesAdapt (hyperlink: project, fragile urban systems were identified and three focus group discussions held in three slums in Howrah on 29 September with residents of the community, to identify specific climate change impacts they were experiencing. ICLEI South Asia representatives, accompanied by Howrah Municipal Corporation officials spoke to residents in detail about this, and some of the issues brought up included rising temperatures, where most claimed this had been the hottest summer they have experienced with rainfall coming in heavier, shorter spurts than previously. This contributed to the unavailability of adequate water supply, a lack of proper drainage, and diseases such as dengue malaria, and cholera.

AsianCitiesAdapt meeting in Kochi brings stakeholders on board

The Corporation of Cochin, ICLEI South Asia and IIT Delhi on August 14 joined in organizing a stakeholder meeting on AsianCitiesAdapt, a project - funded by the German Federal Ministry of the Environment Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety - which seeks to develop local-level climate change adaptation strategies for four Indian cities: Kochi, Madurai, Howrah and Visakhapatnam. The meeting drew representatives from the National Institute of Oceanography, Cochin University of Science And Technology, the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, and Cochin Port Trust. The mayor of Cochin participated as well and said he was “looking forward to the outcomes of the study” and would “take required measures based on it.”

Second stakeholder meeting planned in Kochi to identify fragile urban systems

The second stakeholder and city corporation meeting in Kochi under the AsianCitiesAdapt project will be held on 13 and 14 August to evaluate progress made and to pave the way forward. The main agenda will be to identify fragile urban systems in Kochi on the basis of climatic projections made my IIT Delhi. This falls in line with the project’s focus on bringing science and policy makers together in the search for local adaptation strategies.

Howrah hosts second city and stakeholder meeting for AsianCitiesAdapt

The second City Workshop and Stakeholder Meeting under the AsianCitiesAdapt project in India ( was held in Howrah, West Bengal on 21 and 22 February 2012 and was attended by representatives of the four participating cities, the Potsdam Institute of Knowledge in Potsdam, Germany and the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi, as well as key local stakeholders.

The project is targeted specifically towards South and Southeast Asian cities not only because of their vulnerability to the risks of climate change but also because little adaptation planning has taken place at the local level. To this end, scientists from PIK/IIT-D, ICLEI and four cities each in both countries are working together to identify the local impacts of climate change and to develop aids to gain resilience to these in a sustainable manner.

The mayor of Howrah, Mamata Jaiswal, stressed that the Ministry of Environment and Forests categorised Howrah as an ‘environmental hotspot’, thus making adaptation to climate change key to the city’s survival.

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