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USA, Illinois, Man with son wading in floodwaters

Scaling up our climate adaptation response by building urban resilience

As our planet warms and weather patterns change, we are seeing more frequent and intense floods, heat waves and wildfires. The disruption caused by these events can devastate homes, disrupt communication networks and displace people. Urban areas with higher concentrations of people and infrastructure are particularly susceptible. 

With climate disasters increasingly impacting communities around the world, the need for resilient cities has never been greater.  

Taking Action

Recognizing the urgency of the situation, the Z Zurich Foundation is launching the Urban Climate Resilience Program (UCRP) on January 1, 2023, in ten countries around the world: Australia, Columbia, Ecuador, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Spain, Turkey, the UK, and the US.

The UCRP builds upon the Foundation’s ongoing climate change work with the Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance in rural environments and expands into urban spaces.

"The Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance (Alliance) has been going strong for almost ten years now," adds Michael Szönyi, the Head of the Alliance. "Working with a diverse set of communities globally and through intense collaboration and co-creation, the team has built up an incredible amount of skills and learning, including measuring community resilience to flood and other climate-related hazards. Sharing this learning and the set of tools we have developed will help jumpstart the new UCRP.”

This initiative is a collaboration between the Foundation, local teams from Zurich Insurance and the following charitable organisations:


Our aim is to build sustainable, resilient communities – communities that can withstand, recover from and thrive in the face of climate related disasters. 

Building resilience in urban communities is dependent not only on local action, but on the systems which impact that community. By working directly through our partners with the local authorities, we aim to influence the ways in which systems can be adapted to better support vulnerable people", says David Nash, Climate Change and Partnerships Senior Manager, Z Zurich Foundation. 

Implementing customised solutions in urban areas is a multi-dimensional challenge that requires close collaboration across sectors. By fully harnessing the resources of the private sector, we can bring about lasting, sustainable change on a global scale.  


The UCRP targets highly vulnerable urban communities which are disproportionately affected due to a number of factors. These include: poverty, lack of access to resources or information and discrimination. 

Community resilience and adaptation to the impacts of climate change depends on the characteristics of each community and how they fit together.  In some cases, better awareness can help people take actions to protect themselves.  In others, the capacity to act is missing.  Our approach analyses how the community operates during an event (such as a flood or heatwave) and helps develop the right interventions to plug those gaps.  The Foundation's four-step, tailored approach helps build capacity which in turn builds resilient outcomes.

  • Identify communities in need and engage with them.
  • Gather information to conduct an in-depth analysis of each community’s climate-related issues. 
  • Plan, develop, and deliver customised solutions which enable communities to build resilience.
  • Capture learning and scale the project in collaboration with public and private sector.

The UCRP is an important step in building resilient cities. By working together, we can ensure that urban communities are better prepared to cope with the challenges of a changing climate and create a sustainable future for all. 






Urban Resilience Pilot Programs
In 2021, building on the expertise developed with the Alliance, we have started work on urban resilience by committing support to three new programs: in the United States, Ecuador and Colombia. While the last two focus on flood resilience in an urban context, the American pilot is also integrating a social component. 
In the United States, the Z Zurich Foundation has teamed up with Zurich North America and Resilient Cities Network to launch its first climate program looking at urban resilience. Building resilience in communities can positively affect the lives of thousands. This multi-year program, named Resilience for Communities (R4C), is initially taking place in highlighted neighborhoods of Houston and Boston, seeking to develop actions and implement projects that address climate risks, social inequities and resilience. A cornerstone of the program will be the adaptation of the Zurich Flood Resilience Measurement for Communities diagnostic tool.