According to the Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index (ND-GAIN), countries at the highest risk of climate change are in Africa and South/Southeast Asia. While their capacity to prevent or cope with climate impacts is poor, these regions will host nearly all anticipated 2.5-million additional urban residents by 2050.

Recent research predicts that by 2050, 1.6-billion urban dwellers will be regularly exposed to extremely high temperatures. Over 800-million people living in more than 570 cities will be vulnerable to sea-level rise and coastal flooding.

Mitigation and adaptation actions are needed to respond to current and future climate threats. Future-proofing the building sector must be a centrepiece of building resilience and mitigation of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Adaptation in the world’s buildings and construction sectors is still in its early stages. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) advocates rapidly scaled-up efforts to cope with increasingly intense climate change impacts.

Earlier this year, UNEP published A practical guide to climate-resilient buildings and communities. It is written for a broad audience, including those with little experience in the building and construction industries.

The guide recognises the critical role buildings can play in enhancing climate change adaptation, improving resilience and addressing and mitigating risk. It presents a range of adaptation interventions to respond to climatic events like drought, flooding, heatwaves and strong winds for different building types and settings.

Special attention is given to the most vulnerable countries and groups, where the built environment is largely self-constructed. Working with the inhabitants of informal settlements and their community organisations in improving housing quality and providing needed infrastructure and services is a powerful adaptation strategy for governments to support.

The guide concludes that locally adapted climate adaptation measures should be integrated with post-disaster reconstruction, slum upgrading, building retrofits, and new construction. All parties involved in building and construction should promote and innovate sustainable building design and construction standards that progress community resilience to climate change.

Download the guide: