Cooperation for Resilience in Urban Centres: Supporting the ASEAN-Germany Development Partnership

As more and more people move to cities, urban resilience is becoming a more central issue for global sustainable development and human well-being. Yet cities are also vulnerable to the potential impacts of the climate crisis, some more than others. The main reasons that cities are strongly affected by climate change include limited experience, data and equipment, weak governance structures, and the expansion of cities into geographically highly vulnerable areas. Climate change and natural disasters are set to augment these existing stressors. However, rapid economic and population growth is now taking place not only in metropolitan areas, but also in small and medium-sized cities. At the same time, cities and their inhabitants are exposed to the impacts of climate change and natural disasters such as heat extremes and floods.

Resilient urban systems allow, on the one hand, upholding and returning to desired basic functions when faced with disturbances and, on the other hand, enable the transformation to further enhance adaptive capacity. In the face of the climate crisis and rapid urbanisation, ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) has recognised the urgency of building resilient cities. As one of its strategic priorities, the ASEAN Strategic Plan on Environment (ASPEN) 2016-2025 seeks to build environmentally sustainable cities and outlines the promotion of sustainable urbanisation and climate resilient cities in ASEAN as one of its specific objectives.

In this project and on behalf of the German Federal Foreign Office, adelphi seeks to support ASEAN in meeting emerging urban resilience needs by building on previous efforts and complementing ongoing activities. 

The primary aim is to establish urban resilience as an integrative, holistic concept within ASEAN to more effectively combine climate change adaptation, disaster risk management and sustainable urban development. The project will last until end of 2022 and includes the following:

  • Conceptual development of the topic ‘urban resilience’ for ASEAN: Urban resilience measures are highly context-specific. Therefore, the concept will be developed with regard to the local and international context of ASEAN.
  • Development of approaches to increase urban resilience: adelphi will assist ASEAN in developing concrete visions of urban resilience by engaging the development of practical solutions at horizontal (between the different ASEAN member states and structures) and vertical processes (between ASEAN, member states, cities and possibly other key players such as donors, science and civil society).
  • Support political dialogue at different levels of governance: Another focus is to strengthen political dialogue and cooperation structures at various levels. The project thus contributes to giving urban resilience greater political significance. Reinforcing urban resilience can make a significant contribution to the implementation of the Paris Agreement and the global sustainability agenda.

To achieve this, adelphi is organising and leading participatory processes that bring together a range of stakeholders. In interactive dialogues, the project team will facilitate a discussion of urban resilience and approaches to increase urban resilience with experts and practitioners from politics, science and civil society. It also aims at strengthening strategic and collaborative actions to improve integrated urban resilience planning in ASEAN. The project team will also support an exchange of best practices and lessons learned on urban resilience in ASEAN and Germany.