Case Studies

Concepción, Chile

Concepción, Chile

Concepción lies in Central Chile, 500 kilometres south of the capital, Santiago. The city sits within the larger urban area of Greater Concepcion, where a population of 1,026,425 reside across 10 municipalities. As the 11th largest municipality in Chile, Concepción is home to 231,233 people. Located 10 kilometres upstream of the mouth of the river Biobio, the city is also a capital, major port, and important administrative hub for the wider Bio-Bio region.

Concepción was among the areas most severely impacted by the 2010 Chile earthquake. The 8.8 magnitude quake was followed by a devastating tsunami, which affected over 500 kilometres of the Chilean coast.
Following these events the Municipalidad de Concepción, along with civil society and National Government, expressed a strong interest in measuring city resilience. With support from the Rockefeller Foundation, Arup is undertaking a series of pilot research studies in five global cities to test the feasibility, suitability and effectiveness of the City Resilience Index (CRI). Concepción was selected as an example of a Global South city that has undergone wide scale reconstruction and transformation following a major natural disaster. The CRI pilot offered the city the opportunity to evaluate strengths and weaknesses across the range of systems and processes which shape its resilience profile.

Shimla, India

Shimla, India

Shimla is the capital of Himachal Pradesh and is perched in the southwestern ranges of the Himalayas of Northern India. It is built over several hills and connecting ridges, occupying an area of approximately 20 km2. Formerly the British ‘Summer Capital’ of India, it is now one of the most one of the most popular tourist destinations in the State, both for Indian and international travelers alike.

In 2008 Shimla was selected as a pilot city in the Asian Cities Climate Change and Resilience Network (ACCCRN), funded by the Rockefeller Foundation. Together, the ACCCRN ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability developed a six-phase process to enable the identification of
vulnerable urban systems, capacity constraints, and opportunities under a future climate scenario.

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) is located in the delta area of the Saigon and Dong Nai rivers. It is Vietnam’s largest city and an important economic, trade, cultural and research centre, both within the country, and in South- East Asia. HCMC has a diversified topography, ranging from mainly agricultural and rural areas in the north to a widespread sys- tem of rivers, canals and dense mangrove forest to the south. The urban areas are located approximately 50km (31.1 miles) inland from the Pacific Ocean.

Similar to other evolving mega-cities in South-East Asia, Ho Chi Minh City has experienced rapid changes in recent decades. The city’s population has more than doubled from 3.9 million in 1989 to approximately 8 million inhabitants in 2010. The regional economy has continuously grown with double-digit growth rates and HCMC contributes nearly 30 per cent to the national GDP and received 37 per cent of total foreign direct investments in 2009.

Jakarta, Indonesia


Jakarta, with 9.6 million inhabitants in 2010 and an estimated 10.2 million in 2014, is the largest city of Indonesia and its capital. Jakarta is located in a lowland area with a relatively flat topography in the delta of several rivers, the main one being the Ciliwung River. Due to its naturally flood-prone location, the city has a long history of both coastal and riverine flooding.

Through the Spatial Plan 2030, Jakarta Water Management Strategy 2030 and Climate Adaptation Road Map for 2030, Jakarta aims to promote a safe and sustainable city. A key element is prevention or reduction of annual floods, which are caused by sea-level rise, storm surges and land subsidence, but also by insufficient flow and infiltration capacity of Jakarta’s watercourses (due to illegal waste disposal clogging and insufficient blue-green networks). This is why Jakarta launched the Socially Inclusive Climate Adaptation for Urban Revitalization Project (USD1.3 billion to be invested over 2012-2017) that aims to relocate close to 400,000 illegal squatters from riverbanks and nearby reservoirs, within "a humanized and participative process".

Sao Paulo, Brazil - Civil Defence Helps Citizens Know Their Risk

Sao Paulo, Brazil

In the state of Sao Paulo, Brazil, the Civil Defence System has taken an active role in raising awareness of disaster risk reduction and prevention, using campaigns and training opportunities to stimulate a culture of disaster resilience, with outreach to urban and rural communities.

One innovative approach, in partnership with the Department of Education, teaches students to reduce risks caused by rain events. The goal is to train 30,000 students in public schools throughout the State of Sao Paulo. A virtual game called “The Adventure” teaches students what they can do to prevent floods and other hazardous conditions brought about by rain, landslides and lightning storms.

Incheon, Korea- An Integrated Assessment Tool for Local Governments

UNISDR's Office for Northeast Asia and Global Education Training Institute (UNISDR ONEA-GETI)

Assessing disaster management and safety was not a new undertaking in Korea. The country had its own national evaluation framework and had been carrying out annual assessments since 2005. Based on the evaluations, local governments were able to recognise their strengths and weaknesses with regard to disaster risk reduction and acknowledge the importance of taking proactive measures to improve the challenges they face. However, once Korea began to actively encourage local governments to join the Making Cities Resilient Campaign, a new opportunity came to light.

Stepanavan, Armenia- City Resilience Plan a Catalyst for Change

Armenian Minister of Territorial Administration and Emergency Situations, Mr Armen Yeritsyan, urges use of World Conference for DRR in Sendai, Japan, as a springboard to future resilience. (Photo: UNISDR)

The government of Armenia assigned a high priority to disaster risk reduction and looked to improve disaster resilience at the local level, particularly in Stepanavan, one of the country’s most earthquake-prone cities, which was badly damaged in the 1988 Spitak earthquake. The magnitude 6.8 earthquake left 25,000 dead and 500,000 homeless. Almost 1,000 buildings either collapsed or had to be demolished. This experience, and a growing demand for disaster-resilient development, prompted Armenia to undertake a pilot project in Stepanavan. The goal is to replicate the project in 12 other Armenian cities.

Odisha, India - Investment in Risk Reduction Pays Off

Odisha, India

Cyclone Phalin struck the coast of the Indian State of Odisha in October 2013 and affected more than 13 million people, including almost one million who had to be evacuated. It damaged 420,000 homes and is estimated to have cost in excess of US$700 million. This figure would be higher if not for Odisha's strong disaster management record, according to a leading urban activist based in the State capital of Bhubaneswar, pointing to the need to continue developing policy, technical and institutional capacities and mechanisms for disaster risk management, with a disaster risk reduction perspective.

Dr Piyush Ranjan Rout, who is the co-founder and executive director of the Local Governments Network and an advocate for the Making Cities Resilient Campaign, said the focus on accountability and reducing disaster risk avoided an even worse outcome. "Most of our towns are part of the UNISDR Campaign and the successful management of [Cyclone] Phalin highlighted the effectiveness of investments made over the last ten years. However, the still exorbitant economic losses experienced indicate strongly that in the future, both the national and state governments have to focus more on reducing economic exposure."

Can Tho, Vietnam - Deployment of the CityStrength Diagnostic


With a population of 1.25 million, Can Tho is the largest city in the Mekong Delta and the fourth largest city in Vietnam.
Can Tho is dealing with chronic seasonal flooding, periodic flood disasters, riverbank erosion, saltwater intrusion, possible land subsidence, economic transition, and rapid urbanization. The city is also aware of challenges that lay on the horizon like sea level rise, a labor force that is unprepared for high-technology industry and an urban population that expects high-quality urban infrastructure and services from its government.
The CityStrength Diagnostic was conducted in Can Tho, Vietnam in June 2014 at the request of the city. A team of specialists from the World Bank Group worked with local officials, technical staff and other stakeholders to identify priorities for investment and appropriate areas for action to help build resilience in Can Tho.

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - Deployment of the CityStrength Diagnostic

Addis Ababa

Addis Ababa is the capital of Ethiopia, home to 25% of the country’s urban population (approximately 3.6 million) and is one of the fastest growing cities in Africa. The city is located in the central part of the country at an altitude of 2300 meters.
The primary shocks that Addis Ababa faces are floods, urban fires and earthquakes. At the same time, the city faces a multitude of stresses, many of which are directly related to its current level of development, including unprecedented urban growth, water scarcity, unemployment, and social vulnerability.
In February 2015, Addis Ababa invited a team of specialists from the World Bank Group to implement the CityStrength Diagnostic in close collaboration with local officials, technical staff and other key stakeholders. The CityStrength Diagnostic methodology facilitates a dialogue among stakeholders about risks in their city and the performance of urban systems. It helps identify priority actions and investments that will enhance the city’s resilience as well as increase the resilience-building potential of planned and aspirational projects.