South Asian Cities and Regions Priorities for Climate Resilient Future in Run up and Beyond COP27
The rise of climate-induced natural disasters and extreme weather events have led to an increase in damage to South Asian cities’ infrastructure and lives. Developing countries, especially in the South Asian region, are far more exposed to climate vulnerability when compared to other regions of the world. Untimely action, inaction or inadequate action will cause continuous loss of lives, failure of urban critical infrastructure, jolt on the balance sheets of public authorities, and social imbalances.
All the parties to The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and non-state stakeholders will convene at Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt from 6th to 18th November 2022 for the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27). While this COP is expected to be ‘In-between COPs’ as most of the climate target years have either passed or at the distant future, it offers a significant opportunity for South Asian countries to push their topics of importance including— a financial commitment from developed countries for loss and damage on account of their historical emissions and scale up support for adaptation, fulfilment of $100 billion a year climate finance commitment and move toward new commitments and proceed for global stocktake for speed up climate action for Paris agreement.
The outcome of negotiations on these topics will determine what role cities and subnational governments will play in driving the fulfilment of national and global climate commitments and agreements. South Asia is again expected to be in focus at this COP as well and several cities and subnational governments are preparing and expected to join side events at the COP27 venue. It is important to set out priorities and focus areas that are in the best interest of cities and subnational governments of the South Asia region to consider before and after the upcoming COP.
Enhanced Climate Commitments
Cities are offered to pledge and commit to several voluntary national and international coalitions on promoting and implementing climate-focused actions for instance at the global level Cities Race to Zero, Cities Race to Resilience, Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy (GCoM) to name a few. While it is optional for cities to commitment to such programmes and network and also signing up to are not prerequisite for local climate action but they do offer substantial opportunities in terms of peer learning on good practices and technical and at times financial support to cities. Cities’ climate pledges, policies and commitments must be more ambitious as compared to national governments, at least those of major cities and those who have sufficient resources to plan and implement requisite climate actions. This is also linked to contributing to their national governments achieving their climate pledge and commitments on time. It may not be realistic for South Asian cities to achieve net zero in the near to mid-term but certainly, cities can and aim to net zero future in the long range in line with their national or regional governments’ climate commitments. Cities may sign up to those voluntary climate commitments and coalitions based on their internal interest and priorities. What is more important that these pledges must translate into concrete action; evidence of progress toward lofty targets must become visible. To align resources and set realistic and achievable targets in line with their national climate commitments and NDCs, Cities should leverage and be part of global, regional and national initiatives to foster technical cooperation and partnership to accelerate the implementation of meaningful actions. Doing so, cities will also be exposed to new concepts, ideas, technologies, and good practices on climate-resilient development planning and implementation. Cities also benefit from the no-cost-to-city technical projects supported by international development and financing agencies for instance CapaCITIES, Urban-LEDS, ReCAP21, EcoLogistics etc.
Integrated Climate Actions at Scale
Once cities are committed to climate-resilient future, it is expected to kick start the identification and implementation of low-carbon and climate-resilient interventions following a participatory and inclusive process. ICLEI South Asia supports 70+ member cities in the South Asia region to prepare and implement on-ground actions. Cities are capacitated to scale up economy-wide climate actions. Climate resilient interventions should be leading cities to minimizing exposure to and sensitivity to climatic risks, lowering greenhouse gas emissions, and protecting biodiversity. It would be useful for cities and regions to consider climate resilience principles in designing their urban development policies and implementing development projects. Piecemeal and ad hoc activities around climate action do not result in any benefits, one must prioritise actions based on established and proven resilience parameters and with the highest mitigation and adaptation potentials. Also, the selection and prioritization of resilient interventions should be linked to the urban profile, baseline GHG emissions and vulnerability assessment for the effective results. For the climate actions to be at scale, it needs to be highly inclusive and feasible in all aspects including technologically, economically and politically. Cities comprehensive climate action plans should be prepared with all stakeholder active involvement to ensure the ownership of the plan. CAPs should have an effective resource mobilization plan to fund the implementation of priority climate action not only with own internal budget allocation but also exploring new and alternative sources of financing. This step is crucial because often access and availability of resources and funding to cities are quite limited compared to national and provincial governments. Cities can refer to the systematic and integrated ClimateResilientCities (CRC) methodology available for cities to plan and implement climate actions. There are around 12 cities in the region that have used CRC methodology to plan and implement climate actions in their respective cities.
Improving Creditworthiness and Access to Finance
Cities often find it difficult to implement climate-resilient interventions due to a range of reasons, one of the top reasons is lack of finance. To address it first one should start with basics by cleaning the account books and revenue management and enhancement, expenditure control and asset maintenance, and debt management. It is important to assess and rejig sources of revenue and expenses and become credit-worthy and capable of raising non-grant financing. Cities should aim at enabling more substantial, long-term, sustainable investments that will deliver vital services to the local community and promote green growth through climate-smart urban development.
As the cities often struggle and do not have sufficient resources to fund their journey to a climate-resilient future, optimum utilisation of available resources and mobilising resources from alternate sources can be proven. It is crucial to increase the use of data in decision and policy-making and reform capital improvement planning and budgeting. Apart from other sources and opportunities, Cities could also leverage the Transformative Actions Program (TAP), a project pipeline and project preparation facility developed by ICLEI and partners to act as an incubator that supports local and regional governments by catalyzing capital flows for low-to-no emission and climate-resilient development.
Implementing Robust Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting Mechanisms
It is important to establish an institutional mechanism for continuous monitoring, evaluation and reporting mechanisms of all of its efforts around climate resilience planning and implementation. There should be a specific agency and department at the city level to coordinate the climate action planning, including implementation and monitoring of identified climate actions. Effective monitoring would offer the necessary data for a future assessment of the action plan’s implementation and potential scale-up or improvement. Further, cities may be doing lots of work around climate change and very likely they may not be aware of how effective their activities are in mitigating or adapting to climate change. Therefore, unless cities make a habit of reporting annually or whatever frequency of reporting requirements of important national and international reporting platforms, it becomes impossible for cities to get due recognition and visibility for their efforts. Proper documentation of municipal activities and their results and impacts and disseminating them through multiple channels become very important. Cities could use CDP ICLEI Track for reporting their climate performance, commitments, and actions.
Promoting Knowledge Exchange and Partnership
One cannot discount the importance of knowledge exchange and partnership among stakeholders to learn from each other and consider the experiences of others while planning and implementing climate actions, integrated urban development planning and implementation, and urban system management. ICLEI South Asia encourages its members and nonmembers to learn and leverage each other’s experiences. In the same spirit, ICLEI South Asia with a range of its partners will be convening and supporting several side events at COP27 in the blue zone. Some of the key events are as follows
(1) ‘Fostering Sustainable Lifestyles through Climate Smart Development and Urban Partnerships – Lessons from India’ on 16th November 2022 from 13:00-15:00 Hrs in India Pavilion – Organised by ICLEI South Asia and National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) with support from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)
(2) ‘Pioneering Sub-National Climate Action – Through The Tamil Nadu Green Climate Company (TNGCC) Pioneering Sub-National Climate Action in India-Learnings from The State of Tamil Nadu’ on 16th November 2022 from 15:20 to 16:00 Hrs in India Pavilion – organised by the Tamil Nadu Green Climate Company (TNGCC) and ICLEI South Asia.
(3) ‘Climate Resilient and Responsive Development Governance Innovations at Subnational Level in Eastern Himalayan Region’ on 16th November 2022 from 14:00 to 15:00 Hrs in India Pavilion – Organized by the Government of Arunachal Pradesh with technical support from the ICLEI South Asia
(4) ‘Accelerating Implementation of Climate Resilient Development: Lessons from Cities and Subnational Governments of the Global South’ on 17th November 2022 from 15:00 to16:30 Hrs in Multilevel Action (LGMA) Pavilion – organised by the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) Asia with support from the ICLEI South Asia.
We look forward to you joining us at the aforementioned sessions at COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh.
For more information please get in touch with:
Keshav Jha, Manager (Research & Advocacy) | firstname.lastname@example.org
Kaushani Banerjee, Communications Manager | email@example.com
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