Shaping a shared agenda for adaptation in human settlements: Nairobi Work Programme 11th Focal Point Forum at COP23

Expert stakeholders and national government representatives met at COP23 to discuss climate resilience in human settlements at the 11th Focal Point Forum of the Nairobi Work Programme (NWP).  Interactive discussions built on the findings of submissions from governments and NWP partners and sought to identify concrete opportunities to bridge gaps in knowledge, funding, capacity, and policy.

Aisa Kirabo Kaciyira, Deputy Executive Director of UN-Habitat and former Mayor of Kigali, Rwanda set the scene by reminding participants what has been achieved and what is at stake. She noted that the role of mayors and local leaders has been brought to the fore of UN discussions in recent years, however their contributions to climate action remain poorly understood. A shared vision and agenda of leaders at all levels is needed to effectively address climate change, the impacts of which are already being felt at an increased rate and intensity in cities and communities – our homes – around the world.

What should this shared vision contain?

First, a long-term view. Short-term solutions are at best unsustainable and at worst lead to maladaptation. Visualizing a range of adaptation pathways that incorporate long term options – like ecosystem-based solutions – supports evidence-based resilience planning that can respond to changing climate scenarios.

Second, an inclusive process. Climate change will manifest in various ways at various times for different people and places. Governments cannot predict and manage these diverse impacts alone. They must partner with scientists as well as stakeholders and communities in order to understand how to prepare and respond most effectively.

Third, equal partnerships. Climate change is a global challenge with highly localized consequences. Local adaptation actions and mandates need to be properly resourced and supported. This includes support for technical capacity building and access to disaggregated data. Multilevel governance structures are needed that create favorable environments to develop and fund local adaptation actions.

Fourth, upscaling mechanisms. Human settlements are at various stages of adaptation planning. There is a lot of knowledge available on good – and bad – practices that can be shared to accelerate implementation, for example, through city to city partnerships. North-South exchanges are particularly relevant, though learning can flow in all directions.

Last, a monitoring and maintenance plan. The benefits of fixed term adaptation programs – such as exchange or planning programs with external funding – often end when the program does. Working through long term, established partners such as city networks can be more sustainable. Measuring and reporting outcomes also encourages sustained engagement and accountability.

These findings, drawn from the submissions and the interactive forum discussions, will be incorporated into a detailed synthesis paper and presented during the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Climate Conference in May 2018 – known as SBSTA 48. In the meantime, the NWP will facilitate dialogue among governments and partners – point 2! – to mobilize action around the gaps and needs identified.

Visit this page to follow along and contribute your ideas for advancing climate resilience in human settlements toward achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement!

The Focal Point Forum, organized annually by the Nairobi Work Programme – the UNFCCC knowledge for action body on climate resilience – provides an interactive space for information-sharing and partnership building to translate key findings into concrete actions. As a partner, ICLEI has contributed knowledge from across our offices and network on adaptation practices, resources, and gaps and will support the development of a synthesis report for the UNFCCC Climate Conference in May 2018. Click here for ICLEI’s submission and related Resilient Cities Report 2017),