Send to

Choose Destination
Int J Health Serv. 2016;46(1):53-78. doi: 10.1177/0020731415621458. Epub 2015 Dec 24.

Public Health Adaptation to Climate Change in Large Cities: A Global Baseline.

Author information

Department of Geography, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Department of Geography, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.


Climate change will have significant impacts on human health, and urban populations are expected to be highly sensitive. The health risks from climate change in cities are compounded by rapid urbanization, high population density, and climate-sensitive built environments. Local governments are positioned to protect populations from climate health risks, but it is unclear whether municipalities are producing climate-adaptive policies. In this article, we develop and apply systematic methods to assess the state of public health adaptation in 401 urban areas globally with more than 1 million people, creating the first global baseline for urban public health adaptation. We find that only 10% of the sampled urban areas report any public health adaptation initiatives. The initiatives identified most frequently address risks posed by extreme weather events and involve direct changes in management or behavior rather than capacity building, research, or long-term investments in infrastructure. Based on our characterization of the current urban health adaptation landscape, we identify several gaps: limited evidence of reporting of institutional adaptation at the municipal level in urban areas in the Global South; lack of information-based adaptation initiatives; limited focus on initiatives addressing infectious disease risks; and absence of monitoring, reporting, and evaluation.


adaptation tracking; cities; climate change; monitoring and evaluation; public health; systematic assessment

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Atypon
Loading ...
Support Center