Climate hazards in Latin American cities: Understanding the role of the social and built environments and barriers to adaptation action

Anne Dorothée Slovic, Katherine Indvik, Lucas Soriano Martins, Josiah L. Kephart, Sandra Swanson, D. Alex Quistberg, Mika Moran, Maryia Bakhtsiyarava, Carol Zavaleta-Cortijo, Nelson Gouveia, Ana V. Diez Roux

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Climate hazards threaten the health and wellbeing of people living in urban areas. This study characterized reported climate hazards, adaptation action, and barriers to adaptation in 124 Latin American cities, and associations of climate hazards with urban social and built environment characteristics. We examined cities that responded to a global environmental disclosure system and that were included in the Urban Health in Latin America (SALURBAL) Project database. The cities studied reported a median of three climate hazards. The most reported hazards were storms (61%) water scarcity (57%) extreme temperature (52%) and wildfires (51%). Thirty-eight percent of cities reported four or more distinct types of hazards. City size, density, GDP, and greenness were related to hazard reports, and although most cities reported taking actions to reduce vulnerability to climate change, 23% reported no actions at all. The most frequently reported actions were hazard mapping and modeling (47%) and increasing vegetation or greenspace coverage (45%). Other actions, such as air quality initiatives and urban planning, were much less common (8% and 3%, respectively). In terms of challenges in adapting to climate change, 35% of cities reported no challenges. The most frequently reported challenges were urban environment and development (43%) and living conditions (35%). Access to data, migration, public health, and safety/security were rarely reported as challenges. Our results suggest that climate hazards are recognized, but that adaptation responses are limited and that many important challenges to response action are not fully recognized. This study contributes to understanding of local priorities, ongoing actions, and required support for urban climate vulnerability assessment and adaptation responses. Findings suggest the need for future research documenting local perceptions of climate hazards and comparison with documented climate hazards.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100625
JournalClimate Risk Management
StatePublished - Jan 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Author(s)


  • Adaptation
  • Climate change
  • Climate hazards
  • Latin America
  • Risk perception
  • Urban

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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