[2 December 2016] -- At the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) COP21 in Paris last year, Cities Alliance took advantage of the global platform to formally launch its Joint Work Programme (JWP) on Resilient Cities. This November, at COP22 in Marrakesh, the JWP has emerged as a global coalition for action.
It has consolidated its partnerships and defined a programmatic approach to addressing climate resilience in developing cities in Africa, Asia and Latin America. This multi-faceted approach focuses on enhanced climate mitigation and adaption planning, innovative resilience data assessments at the settlement level, access to financing for implementation, and sharing of challenges and opportunities for cities at global policy dialogues.
The JWP was a visible presence at COP22, co-hosting and participating in numerous events. At a high-level political segment on Cities and Human Settlements organised on Cities Day (10 November), ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability recognised the JWP for Resilient Cities as one of several champions for resilience-related initiatives.
The spokesperson for the group, a 13-year-old Moroccan girl who speaks six languages, challenged the speakers of the session about what kind of tools have been developed that young people could use to help their cities plan more effectively for climate change. It was a strong message powerfully delivered, and yet another reminder that youth must be a part of developing resilient cities.
Cities and climate change: International agreements and finance
Taking place just weeks after the adoption of the New Urban Agenda at Habitat III, the linkages between COP22 and Habitat III were evident to organisations that were active and present in both events, such as Cities Alliance. While there is certainly more recognition of cities and local municipalities in climate change circles, there was limited discussion about the synergies of implementation across Agenda 2030, the Paris Agreement, and the New Urban Agenda.
At COP22, there were three key issues with direct relevance for cities and regional climate action that received considerable attention:
110 countries included urban content in their NDCs
As the Paris Agreement has now entered into force, the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions submitted by member countries have become Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) which outline the focus areas, sectors and actions that countries will undertake to keep global warming to 2 oC (or ideally 1.5 oC).
A review of NDCs undertaken by UN-Habitat showed that 110 countries included “urban content” in their NDC, especially rapidly urbanising regions of Africa and Asia. The review revealed that while there was relatively even balance between mitigation and adaptation, there was a lot of focus on urban sectors – transport, energy, waste, and buildings – as having significant mitigation potential.
‘Loss and Damage’
Developing countries were particularly interested in the negotiations around ‘loss and damage,’ a mechanism set up by the Warsaw COP19 to compensate countries’ economic losses due to climate impacts. Cities, especially those in coastal areas, have a clear interest is moving this mechanism forward, as these areas are where economic assets are concentrated and often vulnerable to climate shocks.
What's next for the Joint Work Programme on Resilient Cities