Globally, coastal cities are facing complex climate-related water risks along with an increasing intensity of population and properties.Growing concern on these challenges requires implementation actions that bring together vulnerability reduction and resilience building. This study applies the concept of vulnerability and resilience to urban communities in South China coasts facing climate-related water hazards. The study integrated a reanalysis dataset, model projections with literature results on long-term climate changes, which supported a comprehensive risk analysis of both floods and water shortages in the Pearl River Delta within the regional climate change context. A flood vulnerability assessment at the sub-region scale was further conducted adopting an indicator system. The results show that flood risk has several consequences at different urbanization levels under increased climate variability. Pre-existing vulnerabilities were exacerbated after flood or water shortage impacts. The main factors influencing the vulnerability of coastal communities are related to economics, institutional capacity, and the accessibility of knowledge for local community-based organizations.
However, other communities have been able to reinforce their resilience through local initiatives. Five principal priorities for resilience building emerge from the research evidence: Investing infrastructures, sharing responsibilities, diversifying engagements, networking recoveries, water security nets for the most vulnerable ones. To ensure the delta’s communities are well adapted to climate and water threats, it is clear that investing in building community resilience and safety nets for the most vulnerable is important. The local efforts, government supports and outside aid should be better organized to reinforce the ability of the people at local communities. This study further highlighted the importance of understanding how the urban communities are vulnerable to natural hazards and the strategies to increase their resilience, as well as identified a few research directions for future investigations.
Dr. Liang Emlyn Yang is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Graduate School of Human Development in Landscapes, Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel in Germany. Emlyn used to study and work at the University of Hamburg, Germany, where he received his PhD in Geography in 2014, focusing on urban water risks in the context of climate change. He got his master and bachelor in geography with a focus on urbanization in China. His recent activities include the study of long-term climate change and social resilience, in especially China and South Asia developing areas. Emlyn is recently carrying out three research projects funded by the German Foreign Ministry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). He has also served as a consultant in several international organizations regarding regenerative cities (World Future Council), resilient cities (Project RESURBE), climate entrepreneurship (EU Climate-KIC), low-carbon transition (MIT Climate CoLab), and climate solutions (Project Drawdown). He acted as assistant supervisor of four master students and assisted teaching in both the University of Hamburg and University of Kiel.
Emlyn has published about 20 peer-reviewed research papers. His research interests include climate-related water risk/vulnerability assessment, agent-based modeling of human responses to hydro-hazards, and he seeks to develop solutions for vulnerability reduction and resilience building in the socio-hydro field. Emlyn has a strong background applying stakeholder-based technologies within the above research fields. His research objective is to establish a new landscape of participatory resilience building in both theory and practice.