BANGKOK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A new $140 million fund to boost climate resilience in cities in six Asian countries was launched on Friday by the Rockefeller Foundation, the UK government and the Asian Development Bank.
The Urban Climate Change Resilience Partnership (UCCRP) - which aims to protect 2.2 million poor and vulnerable people from climate and disaster risks by 2021 - is set to receive a further $5 million from the U.S. government. It is also expected to leverage at least $1 billion in additional public and private investment.
Many of Asia’s urban areas are growing rapidly and are in hazard-prone locations such as coastal zones, river deltas and flood plains, making them “particular hotspots of risk”, Ashvin Dayal, the Rockefeller Foundation’s associate vice president and managing director in Asia, told the fund’s launch.
Experts estimate that by 2030, 55 percent of the more than 3.7 billion population of developing Asian nations will be living in cities.
“The concentration of people - often with substandard housing and a lack of protective infrastructure - and the concentration of economic assets make cities especially vulnerable to natural hazards,” Dayal said.
The new money will be spent on physical infrastructure such as drainage, safer housing, flood protection and wastewater systems, as well as “soft investments”, including improved surveillance and early warning, updated building codes, and water and land-use planning.
The funding will be available to local governments and civil society organisations in 25 medium-sized cities in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Philippines and Vietnam, Dayal said.
The fund is also expected to leverage at least $1 billion in additional public and private investment, he added.
The cities have yet to be chosen but the countries were selected based on their vulnerability profiles, Dayal said. Except for Pakistan, the rest are already working with Rockefeller on another climate resilience project.
“We are seeing more intense and larger storms, prolonged seasonality of vector-borne diseases such as dengue and Japanese encephalitis, and creeping chronic stresses, like the increasing salinity of groundwater and sea level rise,” Dayal said.
These events not only affect the poor and vulnerable disproportionately, but are also bringing the world “closer to catastrophic tipping points that that are hard to predict and challenging to reverse once passed”, he added.
Donors backing the UCCRP noted that climate finance is often criticised for being complex and time-consuming to access, requiring much paperwork.
Gil-Hong Kim, the ADB’s director for sustainable infrastructure, said there are several ways for cities and civil society groups to access the new fund.
They can apply through the central government, via the development partners involved in the fund, or using an innovative programme connecting the ADB directly with city authorities, Kim said.