Climate change and informal workers: Towards an agenda for research and practice

David Dodman (Lead), Alice Sverdlik (Corresponding), Siddharth Agarwal, Kanupriya Kothiwal, Artwell Kadungure, Rangarirai Machemedze, Shabnam Verma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The informal economy is crucial for making cities function, and it provides the main means of income for a significant proportion of all workers globally. At the same time, informal workers are extremely vulnerable to the effects of climate change, with higher temperatures and more intense weather events causing direct physical harm and contributing to ill-health. This paper analyzes research from three cities in India and Zimbabwe (Indore, Harare, and Masvingo) to describe the vulnerability of informal workers in several sectors. It highlights the ways in which the direct impacts of climate change are compounded by other factors, including low-quality living conditions and the absence of provision for Occupational Health and Safety (OHS). Informal workers in the three cities have adopted a range of responses to reduce risk, and there are some recent inclusive engagements with local officials to enhance living and working conditions. However, key interventions such as expanding access to social protection (which has important potential to foster climate resilience) often fail to reach the most vulnerable urban informal workers. We conclude with recommendations and an agenda for more equitable policy and practice that can support multiple benefits for informal workers' health, livelihoods, and climate resilience in urban areas.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101401
JournalUrban Climate
Issue number101401
Early online date17 Jan 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2023


  • Climate vulnerability
  • India
  • Informal employment
  • Social protection
  • Urban poverty
  • Zimbabwe


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