Cities are responsible for around 80% of emissions and consume two-thirds of the world’s energy. Transitioning to a resilient future rests on these urban centres undergoing a sustained transformation.
If successful this will deliver inclusive, climate-neutral cities, an outcome this month’s Innovate4Cities (I4C) conference, co-sponsored by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), will seek to lay the groundwork for by developing strategies built on science and innovation.
We know that cities account for nearly three quarters of global greenhouse gas emissions and that urban infrastructure and the urban poor are the most vulnerable to climate change.Maimunah Mohd Sharif, UN-Habitat Executive Director
Debra Roberts, co-chair of Working Group II of the IPCC, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the prevailing inequalities in our cities and towns. Climate change has and will continue to exacerbate the disasters and disruptions that magnify these inequalities. More than ever, we need collaboration between scientists, practitioners, policymakers and the business community that leads to knowledge and tangible action to reduce emissions and increase our resilience.”
UN-Habitat and the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy (GCoM) are the co-hosts of the conference, which will prioritise solutions that can meet some of the gaps identified in the Global Research and Action Agenda on Cities and Climate Change Science.
“Cities continue to be vital leaders on the frontlines of the fight against climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Arlene McCarthy, GCoM Acting Executive Director. “The I4C conference will be a critical opportunity for cities to gather with fellow climate experts and scientists to accelerate innovative and groundbreaking solutions to the climate crisis and ensure a sustainable, resilient future for people around the globe.”
Resilience in action
In an article for Innovators Magazine Richard Mullane, Environment & Communities Sector Leader for Hassell, San Francisco, took us inside the green cities revolution; on a project in the South City San Francisco Bay Area set up by The Rockefeller Foundation.
“The project is one that has taught us how natural systems and community initiatives can combine to offer up sustainable and long-term restorative solutions to complex global challenges,” Mullane said.
The architect and urban designer believes collaboration is key to unlocking opportunities to deliver resilience for connected urban centres.
“Working with community collaborators and other specialists, as part of an international design collective, the year-long program in the Bay Area combined the creativity, knowledge and experience of residents, public officials and local, national and international experts to develop inventive, community-based solutions – seeking out an alternative approach to the hard-edged, engineering based interventions such as concrete protective barriers, that have previously failed the region,” he said.
At the start of this UN decade of ecosystem restoration, 2021-2030, Mullane says architects, designers and urban planners need to shift their focus, ‘onto exploring the potential for architecture and design to combat emerging global challenges, and preparing cities for the future’.
He added: “This revised approach calls on architects, designers and urban planners to involve local communities more than ever, drawing on local knowledge and local understanding of longstanding ecosystems, and empowering local communities to ensure the successful delivery, and ongoing stewardship of the local environment they know so well – urban or natural. Rather than focusing our attention on instantly constructed outcomes, ecosystem restoration presents the challenge of growing and evolving socially sustainable solutions over time, from the ground up.”