An executive survey conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit finds that 90 percent of business leaders believe that they have a role in building resilience and preparing cities for the impacts of climate change.

In fact, this figure jumps to 99 percent for executives in Asia. The survey, supported by The Rockefeller Foundation, queried almost 250 executives at companies globally—ranging from the construction and real estate sector to IT and technology industries—that are directly or indirectly affected by or play a role in resolving issues posed by climate change shifts.

Since 2000, global losses from climate change and disasters are estimated to have cost $2.5 trillion with more worrying projections of the future impacts on GDP, growth, development, and employment. With urban systems and institutions facing these unprecedented pressures, the risks of city failure have increased. The shocks from city systems breaking down can radiate throughout global markets, and while no economy or business in the region is impervious, action can be taken to improve resilience—especially for the poorest and vulnerable populations who are most affected when these shocks occur.

Key findings from the survey were announced during the Urban Resilience Summit earlier this month. Here are several highlights:

  • Non-climate risks are of key concern for executives, who worry most about pressure on urban infrastructure from overcrowding, civil unrest, and political instability.
  • Increased competitiveness, improved employee health, greater productivity and lower absenteeism and cost savings are primary drivers for corporate investment in climate resilience building, followed by one’s corporate reputation.
  • Companies have made strides in strengthening their own climate urban climate change resilience, however the private sector still sees government shouldering the lion’s share of the burden for the breakdown of essential services. But this is changing: 90 percent of executives acknowledge industry’s role in resilience-building
  • Business looks to seek partnerships with government and civil society to expand its participation in urban resilience building.

Cities are extremely complex ecosystems. Physical assets such as offices, hospitals, schools and transit systems are often concentrated in small spaces and interact with large and diverse populations, including commuters, tourists and residents. This density can intensify the impact of storms, floods, disease outbreaks and other events—and their costs.