High levels of urbanization and poverty and low levels of effective risk governance are compounding disaster exposure and vulnerability for populations throughout Asia and the Pacific. Population settlements have often been located in areas of high disaster risk as a result of geographic amenities -- such as easy communication and transport along rivers and coasts and picturesque locations along coastal mountains -- that also bring significant exposure to disaster hazards. These same rivers and coasts are often at high risk for flooding and coastal mountains or bays are often situated along ridgelines or trenchlines linked to earthquakes faults.
This vulnerability is exacerbated by faulty systems of land management -- where lands which should have been left as floodplains, fault easements, or forests are deemed habitable or used for informal settlement due to the lack of effective land access policies. As more people migrate into existing settlements that typically have weak regulatory and planning regimes, the carrying capacities of both natural resource systems and infrastructure systems are increasingly strained, and the poorest and most vulnerable often find themselves living on marginal land that is risk prone. Weak compliance with and enforcement of building regulations further add to the vulnerability of urban housing and infrastructure to hazard events. In these situations individual and household incentives for investing in risk reduction are diminished, leading to accumulations of disaster vulnerability, damage, and loss which lead to further poverty in a negative spiral. Climate change is predicted to increase these negative impacts both through the increased frequency and severity of certain types of disaster events and through impacts on livelihoods that may reduce coping capacities.
The trend of urban risk accumulation can be reversed if risk sensitive policies and practices are incorporated into urban development. Land use planning and zoning are standard tools for managing urban development which are used to varying extents throughout most countries in Asia and the Pacific and can be readily modified to include risk management elements. However, in most instances existing land use plans are not properly implemented or enforced with regard to protecting against disaster risk and do not incorporate mechanisms for DRR or CCA. In essence, the land use planning process and its regulatory environment are risk-blind.
The knowledge exists to achieve risk-resilient development and there is an increasing awareness among development professionals about the negative consequences of disaster hazards including those related to climate change. However, this knowledge has not found itself into day-to-day practice. The main reason is that disaster-risk management and adaptation are still often managed separately from urban development planning. To bridge this gap better tools and shared learning are needed that highlight how to take advantage of opportunities for integrating risk reduction into urban development processes and systems and also for using an all-hazards approach that captures the synergies between climate change adaptation (CCA) and disaster risk reduction (DRR) so that investments in these areas offer two-pronged protection. These tools and learning also need to be carefully matched to the specific needs and context of the planners and development professional, and incorporated into disaster risk management practices.
Link to Country Partnership Strategy/Regional Cooperation Strategy:
The TA is a regional RDTA that will engage cities from several DMCs. These cities and DMCs have not been selected yet, but will be chosen on the basis of
(i) risk exposure and vulnerability
(ii) regional/geographic diversity
(iii) progress in initiating or achieving risk-sensitive land use plans and development projects
(iv) alignment with Country Partnership Strategy or Country Operation Business Plans
(v) potential receptiveness to proposed TA outputs
(vi) presence/absence of international donor community resources
(vii) potential to benefit cities through application of TA results to existing or future ADB investment projects (based on a review of ADB project pipelines for DMCs in which short-listed cities are located).
The TA contributes to ADB's commitments under Strategy 2020 which recognizes disaster risk management as a vital part of the development process and strives to continue to mainstream disaster risk management and to improve disaster and emergency assistance.
The TA will also build on the foundation of the Urban Operations Plan (under development), Water Operations Plan (under development), and the Sustainable Transport Initiative Operational Plan to ensure relevance of TA outputs to related ADB policy and guidance.