Strengthening Climate and Disaster Resilience: Investing in Community-led Solutions - Bambang Susantono | Asian Development Bank

Strengthening Climate and Disaster Resilience: Investing in Community-led Solutions - Bambang Susantono

Speech | 5 May 2018

Opening remarks by ADB Vice President Bambang Susantono at the Strengthening Climate and Disaster Resilience: Investing in Community-led Solutions Seminar at the 51st ADB Annual Meeting on 5 May 2018 in Manila, Philippines

Distinguished panelists, Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of the Asian Development Bank, I am delighted to welcome you to this ADB Seminar on Strengthening Climate and Disaster Resilience: Investing in Community-led Solutions.

Nobel laureate Dr. Amartya Sen has said “Development is freedom” and that “economic growth without investment in human development is unsustainable”.

This year’s annual meeting theme, “Linking People and Economies for Inclusive Development,” is in line with Dr Sen’s words and redirects our attention to three things:

1. the Asia Pacific region’s significant progress in reducing poverty and the persisting shortfalls toward the goal of ending absolute poverty;

2. the goal of ending absolute poverty which depends on the adoption of people-centered and inclusive approaches for strengthening resilience to climate change and disaster risk; and

3. the drive for people-centred and inclusive approaches is essential to achieve the transformative agenda set out by the Sustainable Development Goals, which promises to leave no one behind.

In the last decade, ADB’s developing member countries faced1

- 316,000 lost lives

- $485 billion in disaster-related direct losses

- with 1.5 billion people affected overall

These impacts are due to increase in intensity and frequency of hazards due to climate change and due to increase in vulnerability and exposure of people and assets located in hazard prone areas. 

These numbers, while alarming, still do not provide a complete picture.

For instance,

- They do not capture thousands of small-scale disaster events, such as localized flashfloods and landslides, which have a huge impact on the lives, livelihoods, and well-being of local communities, especially the poor and vulnerable.

- Nor do these numbers capture the slow-onset events—temperature increase, water threat, and rise in sea level—which affect the day-to-day lives of millions of people.

- These impacts often require the poor and vulnerable to adopt severe coping strategies such as reducing consumption and taking out children from schools. These strategies also adversely impact the long-term well-being of the communities, further affecting their poverty level. For example, after the floods and landslides of 2015 in Myanmar, 75 percent of the assessed villages reported using a variety of food-based coping mechanism. Twice as many women as men reported reducing their food intake and eating smaller portions.2

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

As climate and disaster risk continue to increase, and as we ramp up our efforts to strengthen resilience, we need to ensure that our investments impact the ones that need the most. 

Based on ADB’s experience, we share five critical aspects for investing in resilience.

First. Risk is increasing due to not just the change in hazard patterns from climate change. Risk is also a factor of (i) unplanned rapid development, which is increasing the exposure of people and their assets to climate change and disasters; and (ii) existing socioeconomic vulnerabilities—lack of access to land, limited involvement of women in decision-making, and limited availability of early warning information, among others. 

Therefore, our efforts to strengthen resilience must be mainstreamed in the wider context of local development. 

Second. The poor and vulnerable population are disproportionately impacted by climate and disaster risks. These people rely on fewer and more vulnerable assets and services, have limited access to finance, depend on livelihoods which are often characterized by income volatility and informality, among others. Consequently, they are highly exposed to natural hazards and climate change.

So, our investments to strengthen resilience must have an explicit focus on the poor and vulnerable households and communities.

Third. Communities are not a homogenous pool and their level of risks to disasters and climate change are not necessarily evenly distributed. Accordingly, the solutions to strengthen their resilience should follow a differentiated approach.

Accordingly, in order to strengthen resilience, a portfolio of investments is needed to target different levels; households, communities, and local governments. 

Fourth. Recognizing the increasing magnitude of disaster and climate risk, resilience investments need to be implemented at a large scale. However, they also need to be sensitive to local factors that contribute to risk—thus, the need for programs that can be implemented at-scale but, at the same time, offer flexibility to address local issues by targeting poor households, communities, and local governments.

Consequently, large-scale government programs can be the vehicles for scaling up resilience-building measures—such as programs in social protection, community-driven rural development, urban informal settlement upgrading, community forestry, among others. Resilience building through these programs need to be integrated in the country development plans and prioritized in the nationally determined contributions.

Fifth. Resilience investments should identify communities as equal partners in strengthening resilience instead of victims of climate change and disasters. We need “public-private and people partnerships”, where resources provided by the local citizens—time, material, labor—are considered critical for achieving sustainable impacts. 

Accordingly, we need to include poor and vulnerable communities as partners for development. This will ensure that the dividends of resilience investments benefit all and bring transformational change whereby positive development results are achieved and sustained over time.

This people, community-centric approach is aligned with ADB’s upcoming Strategy 2030, which aims to provide integrated solutions to address complex development challenges that cut across sectors; and promotes greater prosperity, inclusiveness, resilience, and sustainability. 

ADB is addressing these aspects through our projects in different sectors. For example,

- in Myanmar, we have supported the Government to develop a national framework for community resilience, which is being used as basis for developing pipeline investment on resilient rural communities that would support resilient infrastructure and livelihoods.

- In Tajikistan, under the Pilot Program for Climate Resilience, ADB supported communities from selected vulnerable districts to develop local adaptation plans and provided them with small grants to implement their priority resilience measures.

- In the Philippines, we have supported the recovery of Typhoon Haiyan through its government’s national community-driven development program.

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

This journey towards achieving an end to absolute poverty by building community resilience is long and continuous. As mentioned by ADB President during opening speech at this Annual Meeting, ADB will scale up its support to combat climate change, build climate and disaster resilience, and enhance environmental sustainability. Support and partnerships with other organizations are essential to operationalize and scale-up this integrated approach for strengthening resilience and deepening impact.

I look forward to having constructive solutions-oriented discussions with all of you.

Thank You.


  1. EM-DAT: International Disaster Database –
  2. Government of Myanmar. 2015. Post-disaster needs assessment of floods and landslides.