The lack of resilience of urban systems to weather and climate variability—termed type I adaptation—and also to climate change—type II adaptation—are both major challenges to the livability and sustainability of cities in the Global South. However, there is often competition and conflict in these cities between actions that address existing adaptation deficits (type I) and projected adaptation gaps (type II). Extending the concept of the environmental Kuznets curve, this paper argues that synergistic action on type I and type II adaptation is essential in order for these cities to maintain their livability and build resilience to climate variability and climate change in the face of growing urban populations. A proposed unifying framework has been demonstrated in Can Tho, Vietnam, where there are significant adaptation deficits due to rapid urbanization and adaptation gaps due to climate change and socioeconomic changes. The analysis in Can Tho reveals the lack of integration between type I and type II measures that could be overcome by closer integration between various stakeholders in terms of planning, prioritizing, and implementing adaptation measures.

This article is part of a Special Issue on “Climatic Change and Development in the Mekong River Basin” edited by Jaap Evers and Assela Pathirana.

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Last updated: 15th Jan 2018