Moving from Risk to Resilience: Sustainable Urban Development in the Pacific

Publication | December 2013

This publication recommends risk reduction and adaptation measures to promote more sustainable urban development.

  • US$16.00 (hard copy)

Urbanization, combined with the increasing frequency and intensity of natural hazards associated with the onset of climate change, is contributing to rising risk exposure in the Pacific. The region's cities and towns serve as hubs for administration, essential social service provision, and drivers of economic growth.

However, because of this concentration of people, infrastructure, and economic activity, urban centers are highly exposed to natural hazard and climate change risks. Many of the region's urban centers are located in hazard-prone areas such as coasts, flood plains, or low-lying atolls.


Urban resilience is the ability to withstand and recover from unexpected shocks associated with natural hazards and climate change. Building resilience to these risks can be dealt with most effectively through strengthened urban planning and management. Considering and responding to these risks is an essential part of proactive urban management strategies and infrastructure development plans. Possible approaches for building urban resilience include the following:

  • collect natural hazard and climate change information;
  • provide basic urban services to all residents;
  • adopt risk-resilient land use planning and zoning;
  • improve infrastructure design standards to take into consideration natural hazard and climate change risks;
  • preserve natural ecosystem functions such as natural drainage channels, green space, and natural shoreline buffers; and
  • implement effective early warning systems, emergency disaster response, and post-disaster recovery.

The achievement of risk-resilient urban development using the measures requires enabling measures such as improved urban governance arrangements and adequate human and financial resources including the following:

  • Participatory bottom-up urban development strategies;
  • Adoption of a systems approach for urban planning and management;
  • Improved urban institutional coordination arrangements; and
  • Strengthened human and financial resources.

Promoting sustainable urban development will not only improve the quality of urban living in the region's growing cities and towns, but will also build resilience to natural hazards and climate change.


  • Executive Summary
  • Drivers of Urban Disaster Risk in the Pacific
  • Building Urban Resilience to Natural Hazards and Climate Change
  • Promoting Urban Risk Resilience in the Pacific
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • Glossary of Terms

Additional Details

  • Environment
  • Urban environmental improvement
  • Urban development
  • Cook Islands
  • Fiji
  • Kiribati
  • Marshall Islands
  • Micronesia, Federated States of
  • Nauru
  • Palau
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Samoa
  • Solomon Islands
  • Timor-Leste
  • Tonga
  • Tuvalu
  • Vanuatu
  • RPT146287-2
  • 978-92-9254-407-2 (print)
  • 978-92-9254-408-9 (electronic)

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