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Asia is home to 99 of the 100 most vulnerable cities in the world | Cities

Of the 100 cities in the world most vulnerable to environmental hazards, all but one are in Asia, and 80% are in India or China, according to a risk assessment.

More than 400 large cities with a total population of 1.5 billion are at “high” or “extreme” risk due to a combination of life-shortening pollution, dwindling water supplies, deadly heat waves, natural disasters and the climate emergency. , according to the report.

Jakarta, the Indonesian capital, plagued by pollution, floods and heat waves, topped the ranking. But India, home to 13 of the world’s 20 most risky cities, may face the most daunting future of any country. Delhi ranks second in the global index of 576 cities, compiled by business risk analyst Verisk Maplecroft, followed in India by Chennai (third), Agra (sixth), Kanpur (10th), Jaipur (22nd) and Lucknow (24th). ). Mumbai, with a population of 12.5 million, is ranked 27th.

New Delhi in India in May 2021 amid smoggy conditions.
Smoggy conditions in Delhi, India, in May 2021. Photograph: Arun Sankar / AFP / Getty

Looking at air pollution alone, which causes more than 7 million premature deaths worldwide each year, including one million in India alone, the 20 cities with the worst air quality in urban areas of at least one million people are all in India, with Delhi topping the list.

The air pollution assessment was weighted based on the impact of the microscopic and health-damaging particles known as PM2.5, largely due to the burning of coal and other fossil fuels.

Outside of Asia, the Middle East and North Africa have the highest proportion of high-risk cities across all hazard categories, with Lima being the only non-Asian city in the Top 100.

“Home to more than half of the world’s population and a key driver of wealth, cities are already coming under great pressure from dire air quality, water scarcity and natural hazards,” said the report’s lead author. , Will Nichols. “In many Asian countries, these centers will become less hospitable as population pressures mount and climate change amplifies threats from pollution and extreme weather, threatening their role as generators of wealth for national economies.”

Lima, the capital of Peru, is the only non-Asian city to be in the Top 100.
Lima, the capital of Peru, is the only non-Asian city to rank in the top 100 most vulnerable cities. Photograph: Ernesto Benavides / AFP / Getty

China, although richer than India, also faces formidable environmental challenges. Of the 50 cities in the world most affected by water pollution, 35 are in China, as are all but two of the top 15 that face water stress, according to the report.

But different political systems and levels of development can play in China’s favor, Nichols said. “For China, an emerging middle class is increasingly demanding cleaner air and water, which is reflected in the government’s goals,” he said. “China’s top-down governance structure, and the willingness to take abrupt measures, such as closing factories to meet emissions targets, gives it more scope to mitigate these risks.”

India’s weaker governance, coupled with the size and scale of its informal economy, makes it much more difficult to address environmental and climate issues at the city level, he added.

Lagos city of Nigeria.
Lagos, Nigeria, is one of the most populous cities in Africa. Photograph: Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

When it comes to global warming and its effects, the focus shifts dramatically to sub-Saharan Africa, home to 40 of the 45 most climate-vulnerable cities on the planet. The continent will be hit the hardest not only by droughts, heat waves, storms and floods, but also because it is so poorly equipped to cope.

“The two most populous cities in Africa, Lagos and Kinshasa, are among the most at risk,” the report noted. Other especially vulnerable cities were Monrovia, Brazzaville, Freetown, Kigali, Abidjan and Mombasa.

The climate index combined the threat of extreme events, human vulnerability and the adaptive capacity of the countries. The report is the first in a series of risk assessments for cities and assesses threats to habitability, investment potential, real estate assets and operational capacity.

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