Findings from Innovate4Cities 2021 and Update to the Global Research and Action Agenda

Brenna Walsh, Julie Greenwalt, Cathy Oke, Paris Hadfield, Ariana Dickey, Marlies Craig, Michelle North, Nina Hunter, Andrew Okem, Steven Bland, Jorn Verbeeck, Bernhard Barth, Andy Deacon, Hedda Roberts, Jasdeep Randhawa, Sai Joshi, Diana Carrillo Silva, Margot Lootens, Meredith Adler, Aromar Revi et al. | 2022

Executive Summary

According to the most recent UN estimates approximately 56% of the world’s 7.9 billion inhabitants live in cities and their extended urbanised regions (UN DESA, 2019). It has become clear that cities represent both a significant challenge and opportunity for those focused on addressing the climate change crisis. Small and medium sized cities in the Global South, for example, have high levels of vulnerable populations and limited response capacity. Additionally, cities, their stakeholders and leaders are very innovative with respect to climate change adaptation and mitigation.

After a proposal for a Special Report was put forward by the government of South Africa during the 6th assessment cycle (AR6), at the 43rd Session, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), committed to a Special Report on Climate Change and Cities as part of the AR7. To stimulate knowledge exchange, and the production of evidence-based reports and peer-reviewed publications on cities and climate change, at its 44th meeting, the IPCC approved a co-sponsorship proposal for an international Cities and Climate Change Science conference, held in Edmonton, Canada in March 2018. Urban policymakers, urban practitioners, researchers and other societal actors came together to. The primary output of this conference was the Global Research and Action Agenda on Cities and Climate Change Science (GRAA)(World Climate Research Programme, 2019) which emphasized the research needs for increased action on climate change in cities.

In the months following the conference, the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy (GCoM) launched the Innovate4Cities initiative to support and expand the research and action called for within the 2018 Cities and Climate Change Science conference’s GRAA. The first Innovate4Cities conference (Innovate4Cities 2021) was held virtually in October 2021 by GCoM and UN-Habitat, and co-sponsored by the IPCC, bringing together representatives from academia, the private sector, NGOs, local governments, national governments, city networks, youth, international organisations and other stakeholders engaged in addressing climate change in cities. Building on the Global Research and Action Agenda, the Innovate4Cities 2021 conference was centred on the nexus between science, practice and innovation vital to realizing ambitious climate change action in cities across the globe, with a strong focus on local and regional voices.