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Conference Emphasizes Role of Cities, Local Governments in Tackling Climate Change

resiliente-cities-201431 May 2014: Participants highlighted the role of cities and local governments in tackling the twin challenges of climate change and urbanization at the Fifth Global Forum on Urban Resilience and Adaptation, also known ‘Resilient Cities 2014.' The event focused on: risk data and analysis; adaptation planning and policy; comprehensive adaptation approaches; collaborative and community-based adaptation; resilient infrastructure and city-region support systems; and governance and capacity building.

Addressing an outlook plenary, ICLEI– Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI) President David Cadham stressed the need to reach an agreement at the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 21) to the UNFCCC in Paris, France, in 2015. He told participants to “send the message to national governments that returning home with no agreement is not acceptable.” Noting an agreement at COP 21 will not come into effect until 2020, ICLEI Deputy Secretary General stressed “the real responsibility of doing the necessary work until then will fall upon cities and local governments.”

During a plenary on financing, participants suggested cities mobilize innovative financing sources for adaptation, rather than waiting for donor funding or national government support. Other participants suggested partnerships with the private sector as a mechanism for mobilizing finance. Participants further noted the importance of legal and policy capacity to access available financing.

Sessions also took place on, inter alia: climate change adaptation and vulnerability, including on green infrastructure solutions in Japan and the US; resilience and funding, including community-driven financial models; and GIS-based tools and approaches for informing decision-making on climate change and improving urban resilience. A session on ecosystem-based adaptation (EBA) showcased best practice examples from Copenhagen, Denmark, London, the UK, and Singapore on how EBA can mitigate climate change, promote ecosystem services and enhance urban quality of life. The need for collaboration, partnerships and integrated approaches to addressing climate change and urbanization was a common theme across sessions, according to ICLEI.

ICLEI and the World Mayors Council on Climate Change organized the conference, which took place from 29-31 May 2014 in Bonn, Germany. The UN Human Settlements Progamme (UN-HABITAT), the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development co-sponsored the conference. [Resilient Cities Website] [Resilient Cities Blog on Outlook Plenary] [Conference Programme]