The assumption that urban disaster risk is set to rise is increasingly acknowledged and shared by academics and practitioners. However, the existing scholarship has largely focused on rising hazard exposure resulting from urbanisation, while the urbanisation effects on other risk factors such as societal sensitivity or the urban capacity to deal with disasters and crises have been poorly captured and understood.

Along the same line, most attention has been given to the negative risk effects of urbanisation, while positive opportunities for vulnerability reduction, adaptation and resilience-building have been neglected.

In this seminar Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Urban Research, Dr Matthias Garschagen of United Nations University examines the risk dynamics emerging from the intersection of two colliding megatrends: urbanisation and climate change.

The presentation develops a more comprehensive account on the different risk effects of urbanisation. It analyses the different – and often opposing – influences of urbanisation on exposure, social vulnerability, coping capacity and long-term adaptive capacity.

In doing so, it also asks for the spatio-temporal variations in these effects between different countries as well as socio-economic groups within a country’s cities.

The analysis will link a global perspective, based on data from the World Risk Report, with local case study findings. The presentation will close by exploring future research needs and debating the implications of its findings for guiding action on urban resilience and sustainability within the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

About Dr Matthias Garschagen

Dr. Matthias Garschagen is the Head of Vulnerability Assessment, Risk Management and Adaptive Planning (VARMAP) at United Nations University – Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS). His research focuses on urban vulnerability and social resilience in the context of natural hazard and climate change impacts, particularly in South and Southeast Asia. He is especially concerned with the governance of urban adaptation efforts in dynamically transforming countries and with the question of how shifts in vulnerability can be assessed in a forward-looking manner using novel scenario techniques


RMIT University – Swanston Academic Building, 445 Swanston Street, Building 80, Level 11, Room 10, Melbourne, VIC 3000


30 November 2016