Resilient Cities: A Grosvenor Research Report

From the international real estate company, Grosvenor Group, the Resilient Cities report quantifies and ranks the resilience of the world’s 50 “most important” cities based on environmental and social vulnerability and adaptive capacity. The report was created to provide a robust risk management tool for long-term investments in the face of climate change.

Visualizations for world rankings for all 50 cities are provided according to vulnerability, adaptive capacity, and overall resilience (a combination of vulnerability and adaptive capacity scores where resilience decreases with greater vulnerability and increases with more adaptive capacity). The resilience score for each city represents information analyzed from over 100 independent datasets.

Vulnerability was assessed under five themes: 

  • Climate - including sea level change, hurricanes and typhoons, floods, droughts, mass movement of population, earthquakes and tsunamis;
  • Environment - including pollution of all kinds and overconsumption of land resources
  • Resources - including energy, food, and water
  • Infrastructure - including housing, transport, and basic utilities
  • Community - including affordable housing, education and health facilities, religious and cultural freedom, reasonably crime-free living conditions, honest government, and fair business environment

Adaptive capacity was assessed as a city’s performance in five areas: Governance, Institutions, Technology and learning, Planning systems, and Funding structures. To assess adaptive capacity of planning systems, Grosvenor looks for a comprehensive disaster management plan, emergency procedures, and risk-based land use planning. 

For overall resilience, the three most resilient cities in the world were found to be in Canada where resource availability is high and cities are considered well governed and well planned.  Five of the top ten cities are in the U.S. including Chicago, Pittsburgh, Boston, Washington D.C. and Atlanta. These cities demonstrate strong adaptive capacity primarily due to the availability of resources and technology, as well as public accountability of elected officials. 

The bottom 20 cities’ low resilience scores derive from low adaptive capacity and high vulnerability due to inequality, poor infrastructure, environmental degradation, and climate vulnerability. The cities with the highest forecast population growth are among the least resilient cities.

Case studies are provided for New York City, Shanghai, London, Vancouver, and Mexico City. New York ranks the highest for adaptive capacity, and the report states that “the financial tools and flexibility of New York’s city government give it many potential resources to draw on to make investments in key monitoring systems and infrastructure to protect property against future disasters.” 

The report and its underlying analyses can be used as tools for city development planning, real estate and corporate strategy, and public policy. The information can be additionally be used to guide a resilient diversified real estate portfolio, to plan and effectively target the use of limited funds for multinational aid agencies, or to facilitate partnerships between highly resilient cities and those in need of shared technology and know-how.


Publication Date: April 2014

Related Organizations:

  • Grosvenor Group


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Assessment
  • Indicators


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