Making cities in conflict areas more resilient

May 28th 2018 - 16:59

By 2050, the UN estimates that 70 percent of the global population will be living in urban areas. Therefore, understanding and anticipating the ability of cities to manage and avoid the negative effects of climate-related changes and events – for example, hurricanes, overpopulation or supply chain disruption – is of utmost importance. This paper presents a conceptual framework to empirically quantify the climate resilience of cities to guide policymakers and community leaders in identifying challenges and opportunities.  

This paper tests the framework for data analysis in three cities in conflict-prone territories: Bamako (Mali), Maiduguri (Nigeria, Lake Chad Region) and Baghdad (Iraq). The analysis of the three cases suggested that city resilience in those areas cannot be developed without addressing the root causes of conflict in the entire area, as city-level resilience in conflict areas is closely related to the national level.  

On the basis of the research, some important observations and recommendations are made. When tested, the analysis revealed that the level of resilience did not necessarily correspond to economic development; it also found that conflict significantly lowered overall urban resilience to climate-related impacts. Large sprawling cities typically score poorly on maintaining resilience. While recovery and learning capacities are usually present in urban areas, very dense urban areas are particularly vulnerable to climate disasters. Cities in the global north have built learning capacity; they have made efforts to share best practices (e.g., the Rockefeller Foundation’s Resilience initiative, efforts by UN CPI and CRI, etc); and they have considered the lessons learned and implemented guidance. 

Data analysis can help to bolster the learning capacity of cities to cope with climate impacts that could increase tensions in large urban areas. However, there is a significant difference in the availability of data between the developed and the developing world. Data collection in developing countries (and cities) should be strengthened to better estimate climate-related security risks in urban areas and bolster their capacity to maintain key functions and recover and learn from climate events in their own and comparable cities.  

Authors: Michel Rademaker, Karlijn Jans, Paul Verhagen, Aster Boeschoten, Hannes Rõõs & Stephan Slingerland

Michel Rademaker is the deputy Director of HCSS. He has fifteen years of hands-on experience as an officer in The Royal Netherlands Army, where he held various military operational and staff posts and also served a term in former Yugoslavia. He has a masters degree obtained at the University of Tilburg. After leaving the armed forces, Mr. Rademaker went on to work at the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO) as a project and program manager and senior policy advisor on security topics for ten years. Eg. as NATO RTO project leader, he and his team developed serious gaming assessment methods and conducted several assessments of security technologies, and worked on numerous strategic security topics.
Paul Verhagen is a data scientist at HCSS, and holds a Master’s degree in Environment and Resource Management from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. He obtained his Bachelor’s degree at Amsterdam University College majoring in theoretical physics and philosophy. Paul has attended exchange programs in Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai. Prior to joining HCSS, Paul interned at the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs where he worked on global cyber capacity.