• Country/City
  • Topics
    Resilience, Climate Change, Urban Planning
  • Published On

    June 12, 2014

  • Author(s)

    Anthony Gad Bigio, Maria Catalina Ochoa, Rana Amirtahmasebi

While the negative impacts of climate change on urban areas are well-known and widely discussed, its implicit impacts on historic downtowns have not been studied as extensively. In recent years, cultural heritage conservation and valorization have increasingly become drivers of local economic development. Many projects supported by the World Bank in this field help leverage cultural heritage for economic development while developing infrastructure and services for residents and enhancing the livability of cities. The World Bank has also been very active in addressing climate change risks and increasing resiliency of urban areas. This paper is an effort to merge these two critical agendas. The paper investigates the impacts of climate change on 237 world heritage cities (WHC) and provides an overview of the geographic distribution of these cities around the globe. It discusses the importance of historic downtowns and provides various options available to the governments of these cities to address risk mitigation and adaptation to climate change. Further, it provides examples of WHC which have taken action to address vulnerability to the adverse impacts of climate change.
This report is organized in following five sections: section one presents an overview of WHC, geographic distribution, and the growth of the urban agglomerations to which they belong. Section two presents the natural hazard risks and climate change impacts facing WHC, their location on the coastline or interior, and their rank in terms of level of vulnerability. Section three outlines the characteristics that historic cities have in terms of carbon emissions and potential for climate change mitigation. Section four discusses the sources of financing which WHC may turn to in order to address climate change mitigation and adaptation. Section five presents the climate change adaptation and mitigation action plans being implemented in the WHC of Paris, Tunis, Edinburgh, Mexico City, Hue, and Quito.
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