Resilience and adaptation at COP27: What we’re expecting (and hoping for)

This blog was written by Dr. Nazmul Huq, Head of Resilient Development, and Matteo Bizzotto, Global Communication Officer at ICLEI World Secretariat

When the representatives from the nearly 200 governments and thousands of other actors will gather in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt next month for the UNFCCC COP27, the stakes will be quite high. Expectations for an action-oriented COP focused on resilience and adaptation, loss and damage, and increased climate finance are widespread due to the current pace of the climate emergency and its impacts, which are being dangerously felt worldwide on a daily basis.

Dubbed as ‘the African COP’, the event will need to prioritize actions over talks, not only to address the immediate needs of resilient efforts, but also to usher hopes for the many countries of the world that have contributed little to the climate crisis and are now on the front line of its impacts. Indeed, climate ambition is still below avoiding the 1.5-degree threshold, and finance dedicated to upscale resilience efforts is not yet a standard agenda item in the global climate policy landscape.


Then how to make COP27 fit for the purpose?

There are four main areas through which COP27 can help bring adaptation and resilience back on track:

  1. A clear vision for adaptation and resilience goals, implementation roadmaps, and availability of finance should be key areas of intervention to further the adaptation goals set by the Paris Agreement
  2. Prioritize multi-level governance actions for adaptation and resilience policies, as well as provide incentives for multi-level actions
  3. Mobilize resources to support global initiatives such as UNDRR’s MCR2030 and the Race to Resilience
  4. Build partnership and share knowledge among the state and non-state urban actors.

Yet, there is a fifth area that could help equally – if not more. While high-level (urgent) political discussions about adaptation, resilience, and loss and damage can benefit – and hopefully unlock – implementation efforts, COP27 shouldn’t lose sight about how local voices and capacities can uniquely contribute to advance the event’s agenda and course of action.

As the focal point of the Local Government and Municipal Authority (LGMA) Constituency, ICLEI has been calling for elevating the needs, voices, and actions of local and regional governments as the starting point for any real movement to face the climate emergency. Ideally, a call that could meaningfully contribute to the COP agenda. But why?


Why local voices: Efforts already underway

ICLEI has continually supported its Members to raise their resilience bar, and has been a pioneer in the field for more than a decade. From 2010 to 2019, it ran the Resilience Cities Congress, a dedicated annual event bringing together resilience and local governments on a world stage for the first time. ICLEI is also a founding partner of the UNDRR’s Making Cities Resilient 2030 (MCR2030) and supports cities to assess their vulnerabilities and needs, to develop their integrated climate action plan and local capacities, and to improve climate reporting.

Together with CDP, ICLEI has long advocated for local and regional governments to report their climate date in order to track, manage, and attain their climate goals – as well as attract investment. The CDP-ICLEI Track is a platform that goes one step further, enabling the reporting of indicators that evaluate progress in the realms of equity, resilience, and economic vitality, hence becoming a valuable tool to plan for a sustainable, equitable, and resilient urban transformation. This variety of data can also be used to generate buy-in from relevant stakeholders and communities, as well as identify economic opportunities.

Other examples of initiatives focused on resilience and adaptation include UrbanShift, a multi-million Euros initiative that supports integrated climate action in Asia, Africa, and Latin America; the Urban Infrastructure Insurance Facility (UIIF), which enables 10 Latin American cities to increase their financial resilience through disaster insurance; and the Cities Race to Resilience initiative, which provides access to a wide array of global knowledge and best practices on urban adaptation and resilience.