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Cities Urged to Invest in Flood Protection Now for a Safer, Cheaper Future

Expect more images of flood evacuees scrambling into rescue boats with their wet pets and possessions unless cities seize the chance to build both high-tech and simple "green" flood prevention measures into future infrastructure, experts say.

But as sky-high real estate prices in already packed megacities lead to wetlands and mangroves being concreted over for apartment blocks and offices, convincing cities to find space for water-absorbing parks and other ways to reduce flood risk could prove a hard sell.

"The cheapest way of dealing with it is forward planning," said the World Bank's Niels Holm-Nielsen, noting that 60 percent of the urban areas that will exist by 2030 have yet to be built.

"It has a huge financial cost, but what the city is really doing is making their space and their people more productive," said the bank's global lead for disaster risk management and resilience. "Of course it's a political winner, as you don't get a lot of votes from people that are drowning."

Ashwan Lewis

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