Climate Change Risk: An Adaptation and Mitigation Agenda for Indian Cities

Aromar Revi  | 2009


India is one of the more vulnerable and risk-prone countries in the world.1 Over the centuries, its population has learned to cope with a wide range of natural and human-made hazards. Rapid population growth, high densities, poverty and high differentials in access to housing, public services and infrastructure have led to an increase in vulnerability over the last few decades, especially in India’s urban centres.

Climate change is expected to increase the frequency and intensity of current hazards and the probability of extreme events, and to spur the emergence of new hazards (e.g. sea-level rise)2 and new vulnerabilities with differential spatial and socio-economic impacts. This is expected to further degrade the resilience of poor, vulnerable communities, which make up between one quarter and one half of the population of most Indian cities. Climate change is set to become an increasingly important strategic economic and political concern as it starts to eat into India’s high economic growth rates and affect the lives and livelihoods of millions of people.

Overall risk in Indian cities is typically associated more with vulnerability than with hazard exposure. It is therefore important to understand a number of processes that are rapidly changing India’s urban landscape, altering livelihood opportunities and wealth distribution, which, in turn, affect the vulnerability of many communities and stakeholders, and their capacity to adapt to long-term risks.