Resilient Cities 2018: Driving global conversations

Knowledge exchange and technical deep dives are always core elements of the annual Resilient Cities congress. The program is designed for a critical examination of emerging issues in urban resilience and informative exchanges around them.

Sessions cover a diversity of topics, so that every participant can find his or her place in the conversation, from the benefits and risks of digitalization to vulnerabilities as seen through the lens of small island communities.

But global events like Resilient Cities also carry a political message and bring forward critical global conversations. Resilient Cities 2018 took place just after the March Cities IPCC Conference, a few days ahead of the midyear Bonn climate talks and a few short months before nations review SDG 11 on cities and human settlements.

Resilient Cities is a platform for local and regional governments and their partners to consolidate their message and contribute. This year, three key issues were at the forefront of Resilient Cities:

Advancing the global research agenda on cities and climate science

The Cities IPCC Conference in Edmonton, Canada this March set the scene for greater collaboration between researchers, policymakers and practitioners. Looking head, these key group aim to break down barriers between their respective areas of practice. Cities will need to provide data to shape and inform critical research and the academic community will need to delivery policy relevant analyses that support more strategic and targeted interventions in cities. These collaborative efforts will support the development of a more targeted research agenda on climate. Over the next five years, these efforts will feed into IPCC Sixth Assessment Report which will be concluded in 2023.

Using Talanoa to deliver on global climate goals

At Resilient Cities 2018, it was clear that Talanoa has traction. Talanoa, a method of dialogue practiced in the Pacific, calls for inclusive, participatory and transparent dialogue. It is the concept shaping global multistakeholder dialogues on climate kicked off last year at COP23. Talanoa carries weight for leaders at all levels. This was clear at the official High Level Talanoa Dialogue and dinner where UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa and Minister Inia Seruiratu, COP23 High Level Climate Champion joined local, regional and national leaders along with key stakeholders representing more than 20 countries. This event was a key event among the Cities and Regions Talanoa Dialogues, facilitated by ICLEI worldwide.

Talanoa also manifested in the stories and interactions among participants throughout the congress. From Deputy Governor Oswar Mungkasa of Jakarta, Indonesia, who shared his ideas on collaborative governance, to Rose Molokoane, Coordinator of FEDUP and Vice President of SDI, who told stories of community consultations that relied on the spirit of Talanoa: participation, inclusion and transparency. Time and time again, participants expressed their view that the Talanoa process and spirit can help achieveglobal goals.

Tracking progress towards SDG 11

The annual Resilient Cities congress is a platform to take stock of global progress on urban resilience. This check-in is of critical relevance this year, looking ahead towards the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) this July, when nations will evaluate progress made on SDG 11 – the goal focusing on cities and human settlements – which calls for disaster risk reduction strategies and adaptation plans. Not many have dug into the existing adaptation data – and overall it is an underrepresented part of the global climate conversation. ICLEI is working to support cities in compiling information on disaster risk reduction and reporting it to inform global tracking. These efforts will be presented this July at the HLPF.