Making Cities Resilient:
My City is Getting Ready
Essential Four: Pursue Resilient Urban Development and Design

"The built environment needs to be assessed and made resilient as applicable, informed by risk identified in essential 2."


Not all hazards are expected to cause disasters. A disaster occurs when a hazard results in devastation that leaves communities unable to cope unaided. Preemptive measures therefore can help build better resilience capacity, avoid and/or minimize the disruption and destruction of networks, grids and infrastructure, which can cause severe social and economic consequences. Integrating resilience into socio-economic development planning and infrastructure will safeguard development investments.

Place urban planning and land-use management at the core of urban resilience
Conduct systemic and specific vulnerabilities mapping
Mainstream resilience into ongoing urban master plan updates and sectoral strategies
Pune (India)
Investing in Measures to Reduce Risk

Pune, India, has been affected by severe periodic flooding for decades. Anticipating that the impact of climate change may increase the frequency, the city has put programmes in place to build capacity, assess hazards and vulnerability, and implement a city-wide action plan, which contains structural and planning measures for restoring natural drainage, widening streams, extending bridges and applying natural soil infiltration methodologies. Watershed conservation techniques, such as afforestation and building small earthen check dams, were undertaken in the hill zone. Property tax incentives were provided to encourage households to recycle wastewater or to store run-off rainwater for domestic use. These efforts were complemented by improvements in flood monitoring and warning systems and social protection for affected families. The initiative was driven jointly by the elected municipal government, the municipal commissioner and Alert (active citizen groups), and involves many different city departments.
Consult Briefing Note 02: Adaptation to climate change by reducing disaster risks: Country practices and lessons (UNDRR 2010) at

Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia)
Kuala Lumpur: Dual-use Drain and Car Tunnel

Locating infrastructure out of harm’s way is one way to ensure that new infrastructure does not introduce new risk. Where that may not be possible, another way is to execute multipurpose infrastructure projects, such as Kuala Lumpur’s Stormwater Management and Road Tunnel (SMART). Floods from heavy rains are a hazard, and the 9.7 km. long, $514 million tunnel has three levels, the lowest for drainage and the upper two for road traffic. The drain allows large volumes of flood water to be diverted from the city’s financial district to a storage reservoir, holding pond, and bypass tunnel. Combining the drain with the road has two advantages: it ensures that this ‘critical infrastructure’ is subject to higher than usual margins of safety (the extra strength that engineers build into designs). In 2010, local government officials commented that “the RM 2 billion provided by the government to construct the SMART Tunnel in Kuala Lumpur is a significant investment. But in the three years since its launch in 2007, the SMART operations have successfully averted at least seven flash floods and have saved hundreds of millions of RM in potential losses. Together with the revenue from toll fees, we are very close to recovering the investment cost,” said Datuk Hj Salleh Bin Yusup, Director General of City Hall. A local newspaper reported in 2010 that since SMART operations began in 2007, it was used 114 times to divert excess water and prevented seven potentially disastrous flash floods, which far exceeded the original target of diverting floodwaters only two or three times a year.
In addition to the SMART Tunnel, another RM 140 million was spent on maintaining flood retention ponds and main drains; RM 40 million is provided for maintenance and cleansing of rivers and main drains; and 300 million has been allocated for river cleansing and beautification. “These substantial investments, both from Federal Government and City Hall, are the results of efforts to mainstream disaster risk reduction in all policies, development and land use plans such as the Kuala Lumpur Structure Plan 2020, the Kuala Lumpur City Plan and the Flood Mitigation Plan,” said the Lord Mayor.
For more information about the smart tunnel, consult pages 6-7 of the publication: Natural Hazards, UnNatural Disasters: The Economics of Effective Prevention (World Bank- United Nations, GFDRR, 2010) pages 6-7.

Tools and Resources