Spotlight: Asian cities look to build resilience

GAIN Readiness Matrix Asian countries

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Urban areas in Asia are leading the way to greater resilience. In this effort, ten cities are developing indicators of vulnerability to climate change and ongoing challenges of urbanization and population growth. The participating cities include Surat and Gorakhpur in India; Bandar Lampung and Semarang in Indonesia; Chiang Rai and Hat Yai in Thailand; and Can Tho, Dan Nang and Quy Nhom in Vietnam.

Those cities are part of the Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network (ACCCRN), which is funded by the Rockefeller Foundation. 

Useful guidance on vulnerability and readiness indicators in Asia is available on the GAIN Index website and can provide more information as this initiative develops metrics at the local level. The participating cities are located in four Asian countries, India, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam. The GAIN Index ranks these accordingly (out of 161 countries):

Thailand: 50

Indonesia: 85

Vietnam: 98

India: 117

Vietnam has shown the most rapid increase in resilience among its South East Asia neighbors. In the last 15 years, it has steadily decreased its vulnerability in all sectors measured by the GAIN Index — food, water, health and infrastructure. India, Indonesia and Thailand are decreasing vulnerabilities as well, but less consistently.

Improvements in resilience in the food, water and health sectors in Thailand has either remained flat or declined in recent years. However, the GAIN Index shows that Thailand still remains the least vulnerable country in the region — beginning in a stronger position of resiliency and has already made progress.

Similar trends occur for each country’s readiness score. The GAIN Index readiness indicates the degree to which investments will be efficiently used in a country to address adaptation concerns. For instance, Indonesia has improved upon governance indicators, such as voice and accountability. India’s financial sector is strengthening, which is reflected in its economic indicators.

Another way of comparing and visualizing the resilience trajectories of these nations is through the GAIN Index Readiness Matrix. This tool measures a country’s vulnerability and readiness to help the private sector and governments make informed investment and policy decisions. The Readiness Matrix shows that all four countries have moved to a state of lower vulnerability and higher readiness.

Many of the indicators used by the GAIN Index at the national scale will apply to urban areas. Some new indicators must be developed to reflect the unique realities of cities as well as varying level of data reporting between cities and governments. Many food, water, health and infrastructure indicators will remain relevant at a more granular level and are being gathered by the ACCCRN project.

GAIN hopes that this project will also take into consideration the concepts reflected by indicators of readiness, which require significant investment in urban areas.

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