Cities on rivers are most at risk from rising water caused by climate change, according to a report from the UN and the World Bank.
The report, Climate Resilient Cities, gives city planners practical advice, noting that eight of the planet's ten largest cities are on rivers or seas and as such vulnerable to flooding, rising sea levels and storms.
With more people living in cities than in the countryside, the advice could save many lives.
To minimise the impact of weather-related disasters - which the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says makes up 90% of disasters - city planners should avoid building on flood plains.
Building on high ground with resilient materials is also recommended to protect populations.
To safeguard against disasters, the report also urges cities to set up early warning systems and a network of shelters.
Salvano Briceño, director of the UN's International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, said: "We cannot wait.
"We already have the tools to reduce the impact of climate-related hazards and we need to use them now."
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