Cities responding to the climate emergency through innovative finance, people-centered approaches, and resilience initiatives

This blog was written by Matteo Bizzotto and Sajili Oberoi from the ICLEI Global Communications team.

Daring Cities 2022 showed once again that cities and regions are the epicenter of the climate emergency response. With perspectives from every region of the world, we heard loud and clear the following:

  • Now is the time to formalize climate emergency action into our city and regional processes
  • More funding options are available to cities than ever before, yet access to those funds remains a challenge
  • A just climate transition depends on multi-level action, inclusion of traditionally underrepresented groups, direct local investments, and trust towards local communities
  • Resilience and adaptation are top priorities for most local governments, especially in the Global South, for unprecedented climate impacts are being felt by their communities
  • UNFCCC COP27 will be a turning point in formalizing the role of subnational governments and multilevel action

Here are some condensed city-examples and highlights of Daring Cities 2022.

 

Making finance flow to the local level

The workshop on “Innovative finance solutions to implement and fund climate action” saw how cities in Uganda, Indonesia and Portugal used their funds for very innovative sustainable and energy conservation projects. The discussion also entailed the need to formalize climate emergency action into city and regional processes which includes building resilience into disaster recovery budgers or designating climate initiatives as mandatory government work. There was also a conversation around availability of more funding options like Project Preparation Facilities (PPFs) and other pipeline support initiatives like Transformative Actions Programs (TAP) to fill the capacity and skills gaps for cities.

The municipality of Uganda, Makindye Ssabagabo presented how they used the Gap Fund and Climate Smart Cities Challenge Project to fund a sustainable waste management project for multiple municipalities including Makindye Ssabagabo, Kira, Nansana and Entebbe.

The city of Jakarta in Indonesia used C40’s Cities Finance Facility (CFF) to fund their project of supplying 100 e-Buses in the city.

Cascais in Portugal introduced a unique aspect of their energy communities project wherein the extra energy generated by solar power is given away upon application up to a certain amount in social support facilities like child day cares. This project was funded by the European City Facility (ECF).

 

Women are often the key…

While the first workshop focused on funding climate action, subsequent sessions tied resilience-based projects to the issues of women empowerment and breaking down patriarchal systems, specifically historically found in financial institutions.

The project “Urban Natural Assets for Africa: Resilience and Restoration for Life (UNA Resilience)” redirects the response to the climate emergency by centering women at the middle of governance, planning and finance in projects. Moreover, the project on women empowerment in Bolivia, Cero Waste Project, works with women to provide dignity, improve working conditions and recycle waste. Another female empowerment project, situated in India, Bhungroo©, funded by WECF, invests €6,000 to support 6-10 farming communities by training women to build and maintain rainwater capture systems. These Women Climate Leaders are able to double their harvest and income and are empowered to take part in their community governance.

 

…and youth are the future

But Daring Cities 2022 also covered climate action issues that are not usually given as much priority as they need to be, youth involvement being one of them. The seminar on “Investing in youth-led climate activism that demands action and inspires hope” heard from global experts on the importance of including the youth in today’s climate action since they are, unfortunately, the generation to deal with the consequences of decisions made today. They do have the energy and will to do whatever is necessary to mitigate the consequences of climate change but they need to be heard, they need funds, resources and tools and previous generations to take responsibility for their actions. Xiomara Acevedo, an activist and founder and CEO of Fundación Barranquilla +20 in Columbia also made a very relevant contribution to the event while she said that a key contribution young people make is to incorporate environmental awareness into the local culture.

(Read more about youth engagement at Daring Cities 2022 in this dedicated blog)

 

Resilience and adaptation efforts are already on the way, but more is needed

The Day 4 of Daring Cities 2022 came to a wrap with an invigorating conversation around the need to offer adaptation projects for vulnerable and grassroot communities getting affected by climate change. Cities like Athens in Greece and Bonn in Germany shared the benefits they were seeing from their resilience projects. While Athens reports using a CDP-ICLEI Track, a TCFD aligned framework, Bonn is well positioned to become a Resilience Hub in the UNDRR MCR2030 Initiative, considering the organizations in the city working on climate. It should also be noted that the Mayor highlighted the need to focus on mandatory obligations and emphasized on the importance of federal action to make investments in climate projects mandatory. We also looked into the city of Makati in the Philippines and its challenges in terms of financing, but not what to finance but how to. The Mayor emphasized the need to see a shift in disaster and recovery budgets for cities to include resilience.

The discussion was rounded off with the Council of Europe Development Bank sharing seven actions cities can take to holistically approach financing resilience and emphasizing the importance of multi-stakeholder partnerships.

 

COP27 could be the last COP without formal recognition of the local level

As the conference covered climate action for subnational, regional and local governments, it is also important to note that UNFCCC COP27, scheduled for next month, will be a turning point in formalizing the role of subnational governments and multilevel action.

To this end, the Egyptian Presidency,in collaboration with UN-Habitat and facilitated by ICLEI, has announced a new global city initiative, which will be launched during the COP. The Sustainable Urban Resilience for the next Generation (SURGe) Initiative aimed at accelerating local and urban climate action by promoting multilevel climate governance, multi-stakeholder engagement and delivery through five Tracks: Buildings and Housing, Urban Energy, Urban Waste and Consumption, Urban Mobility and Urban Water.

Notably, this COP will see the first-ever Climate and Urbanization Ministerial on 17 November, with Ministries of the Environment/Climate Change and Urbanization/Infrastructure expected to actively engage in the process so that sustainable cities, urbanization and multilevel action can be considered as a standing agenda item at every UNFCCC Climate COPs.

A longstanding advocate for cities and regions, the Local Governments and Municipal Authority (LGMA) Constituency has elevated the voice of cities and regions in global processes since it was designated an official United Nations constituency group at the 1992 UN Earth Summit. This year will be no different: Building on last year’s success, the LGMA will continue to host its ‘Multilevel Action Pavilion’ in Sharm El Sheik. Dubbed as the home in the Blue Zone for local and regional governments throughout the two weeks of COP27, the Pavilion is preparing space for more than 70 sessions and seeking partners interested in hosting sessions with the LMGA.

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