The 9th edition of the European Urban Resilience forum took place in Athens, Greece, this week, gathering experts and decision makers working at the forefront of resilience and climate change adaptation. From nature-based solutions, digital twinning, to a sustainable post-war recovery for Ukraine the event covered burning topics in the resilience field.
The event took place in the ancient city of Athens – a city that has endured – and is currently facing major challenges with rising temperatures. Kostas Bakoyannis the Mayor of Athens opened the event unveiling the city’s plans to tackle the problem: “I am glad and grateful, that the European Urban Resilience Forum has managed to gather experts and policy makers from over 80 European cities in Athens to join forces for this common purpose to build resilience, especially after the summer we have had in Europe. Truly talking about heat in Athens is like talking to fish about water; we will aim to lower temperatures with cooling materials, nature-based solutions, updating grey infrastructure and much more. Further to address this very current issue, because it is also a public health challenge, we are introducing short-term policies targeted at quick deployment of these strategies to help lower temperatures.” Vasileios Axiotis, Vice Mayor of Athens announced plans to connect existing green areas with new green infrastructure, a measure proven to work quickly to help lower temperatures in urban areas.
In addition to climate change, cities face many other challenges. The event held an important session focusing on a post-war recovery for Ukrainian cities. The Ukrainian representatives focus on planning for a sustainable future even amidst a war is testament to resilience. Representatives from Ukrainian cities, and the city of Malmö, issued a call to add resources to the new Sustainable Cities platform to support the post-war recovery of Ukrainian cities and towns. Holger Robrecht the Deputy Regional Director at ICLEI Europe stressed the importance of collaboration further: “In light of the war in Ukraine we need collaboration – let’s respond as resilience experts! We can have the capacity to do so if we are a partnership. We have limited means, but with the will to break silos, a lot can be done, such as building common standards for financing. We need to ease access to financing, and in order to scale-up – we need to promote these great solutions that we have seen at the European Urban Resilience Forum.”
Elena Višnar Malinovská, Head of Unit at the European Commission’s Climate Action department working on adaptation, echoed the Commissions strong support for enhancing strategic efforts to build climate resilience: “The president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen stressed just this week in her ‘State of the Union’ address the importance of adaptation to climate change, and the European parliament has called for more strategic work on resilience – with increased spending targets set for climate adaptation.”
Building networks for resilience and climate change adaptation are key to ensure Europe can withstand the effects of climate change and conflict. ICLEI Europe and The European Environment Agency will continue to spearhead the European Urban Resilience Forum in the years to come, gathering experts in the field to exchange knowledge and built collaborations across academia, NGOs, private sector and government.