The 27th Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Conference for Climate Change (UNFCCC) is taking place from November 6 to 18, 2022 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. The priorities of the rotating Presidency of the United Nations Framework Conference for Climate Change (UNFCCC), this year held by Egypt, included the reduction of emissions, scaling-up of adaptation efforts, enhanced financing and just transition.
Resilience First, together with the International Coalition for Sustainable Infrastructure and the Resilience Rising consortium, has proudly supported the Conference with a series of fringe events and the launch of two reports. The Summary for Urban Policymakers demonstrates how local governments and business leaders can meaningfully accelerate and deepen climate action across the world. The Port Resilience Framework for Action provides a line of sight for resilience from a policy level through to implementation at a port asset level.
The need for comprehensive risk management was a recurring message. Comprehensive risk management, addressing all-hazards, all-stakeholders, all-impacts, and all-phases, is needed to mitigate the loss and damage from climate change and is therefore closely related to climate change adaptation. Disaster preparedness needs to integrate scientific knowledge from multiple disciplines with indigenous knowledge and new technologies. Data and analytics are also important to managing risk and effective decision-making.
Resilience investment and funding was another key theme. Our finance architecture is “insufficient, inefficient, and unfair”, according to Mahmoud Mohieldin of The Climate Change High-Level Champions. Debt swaps have the potential to address the intersecting crises of debt, climate change, and biodiversity loss. Furthermore, resilience spending is expected to reduce downstream costs (such as infrastructure maintenance) in the medium- and long-term. The opportunity cost of not investing in resilience is high, but investors will require convincing, especially in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), where such investment is needed more urgently. Driven by climate change and political and financial uncertainties, the global disaster relief funding gap has increased by about 50% since COP26. Access to, and use of, insurance mechanisms makes a big difference in the disaster resilience of the Global North versus that of the Global South, where insurance is seldom used because of a lack of understanding of its benefits, a lack of affordability and a lack of trust.
The role of the private and not-for-profit sector was also a topic of discussion. The UNFCCC’s Race to Resilience global campaign, of which Resilience First is the business partner, seeks to mobilize businesses, investors, cities and civil society to strengthen the resilience of 4 billion people in vulnerable communities by 2030. Resilience First is a main contributor to the Metrics Framework, which serves as a guide for partners and for the UN Climate Change High-Level Champions on how to manage and develop their work. It is composed of two quantitative metrics, which help estimate the size of the impact, and qualitative metrics, which help provide an understanding of how the partners and their members are contributing to increasing resilience of people vulnerable to climate change.
Furthermore, energy access and resilience are interrelated, in that energy access builds resilience, and infrastructure resilience is needed for energy access. Decarbonisation and access to affordable and clean energy are crucial to achieving a just energy transition. In 2010, 1.2 billion people didn’t have access to electricity and, as of 2020, this has been reduced to 733 million. The private sector has a critical role to play in efforts at improving energy access, especially on distributed renewable energy.
Summary for Urban Policymakers
The Summary for Urban Policymakers (SUP) launched a three-volume series of scientific reports to distill the most relevant climate science for urban policymakers from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Reports (AR6). The SUP summaries are derived from the recent IPCC AR6 assessment reports and use the latest science to build understanding around the need and opportunity to deeply transform cities and urban areas to meet global climate goals and protect the world’s increasingly urban population.
The science makes it strikingly clear that cities and urban areas are both sources of climate forces and important sites for innovation and implementation of adaptation, mitigation, and sustainable development. Climate risk is exacerbated in urban areas and climate impacts are felt disproportionately in socioeconomically marginalised communities.
Urban adaptation options reduce risk but unevenly and inadequately. To address systemic risks to coupled human, natural and climate systems, we need to move beyond sectoral and sequential action in all world regions. This can be achieved by enabling five simultaneous systems transitions: Urban and Infrastructure systems; Land, coastal, ocean and freshwater ecosystems; Energy; and Industrial systems; all of which are accelerated by societal choices and transitions.
Urban climate change mitigation has a crucial role in determining the future of the global climate. Cities of all types can accelerate systemic climate responses through five interconnected System Transitions: energy, urban and infrastructure, land and ecosystems; industry; and societal. Urban mitigation actions linked to these System Transitions can reach across multiple sectors, urban boundaries and regions.
Following the launch of the SUP reports (Volumes I-III), the SUP initiative released a stand-alone Action Agenda outlining key actions needed from city and business leaders to realise goals set forth by the AR6 IPCC reports. The Action Agenda explicitly defines opportunities and investments needed to co-create solutions to the climate crisis.
Maritime Resilience Breakthroughs: Ports as a Gateway
The UN High Level Climate Champions announced a comprehensive set of 2030 Breakthroughs for the shipping sector including Resilience and Adaptation Breakthroughs including a set of port-specific resilience breakthroughs. Through its Maritime Resilience Breakthroughs Lab: Resilience4Ports, Resilience Rising and its partners support unlocking these breakthroughs by 2030.
In addition, Arup and Resilience Rising released the Port Resilience Framework for Action, a report that lays out this coordinated set of goals and actions that will provide the technical underpinning of our new Resilience4Ports Lab.
Maritime shipping, responsible for transporting 90% of global trade, provides a crucial link between communities and the global supply networks needed to support health, well-being and livelihoods. Ports face cumulative pressure from climate change, geopolitical uncertainty, net-zero commitments, technological disruption, and the urgent need for social and environmental equity. These pressures, alongside the essential role of ports in global maritime systems, elevate ports as a focal point in advancing a resilience-based approach to the transformation of maritime infrastructure.