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COP28: Empowering transformative urban action towards an expanded climate and innovation agenda

December 5, 2023
Dubai, UAE
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The first session of the day was co-organized by the United Nations University (UNU) and ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability. UNU is the academic arm of the United Nations and acts as a global think tank. The mission of the Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS) is to carry out cutting-edge research on risk, adaptation, and transformation related to environmental hazards and global change. One core pillar is work on urban transformation toward sustainability to inform and enhance policy. ICLEI is a global network of more than 2500 local and regional governments committed to sustainable urban development. Under the Global Research Strategy, ICLEI acts at the research-policy interface to bring together policymakers with leading-edge, policy-relevant research. UNU-EHS and ICLEI share a common vision and goal of advancing sustainability, resilience and inclusiveness in cities and regions.

The opening session set the scene for CapaCITIES Day, which delved into capacity-building efforts, encouraging dynamic and solution-driven bottom-up approaches to address the climate emergency. The session consisted of two dialogues that was linked by the moderators. The first, hosted by UNU-EHS, focused on empowering transformative urban action for and by communities. The panel explored how to move towards demand-based and bottom-up approaches that involve and empower local communities in co-creating and co-delivering solutions for climate action. The esteemed speakers shared experiences and best practices of community-led initiatives and innovations from diverse contexts and regions to explore what capacities are required in order to harness the potential of diversity and inclusive collaboration as a catalyst for change.

The second dialogue, hosted by ICLEI, focused on an Expanded Climate and Innovation Agenda (ECIA) centered on human needs. The panel dived into the core principles and tools of the ECIA, which aimed to overcome the limitations of existing static approaches to addressing the climate emergency that focus on optimizing and reinforcing existing practices towards instead leveraging the opportunities of emerging technologies and new approaches to generate agenda-setting and transformative innovation. The dialogue discussed what capacities cities need to expand their existing climate strategies and become active solution providers contributing towards global sustainability and delivering flourishing lives for 11 billion people.

In combination, the session brought together diverse perspectives to inspire the bolder and more transformative action needed to fulfill the needs of current and future populations without exceeding planetary boundaries.

Simone Sandholz, Head of Urban Futures & Sustainability Transformation Division, UNU-EHS
Delfina Matarazzo, General Director of Housing Development, Housing Institute of the City of Buenos Aires, Argentina
Dennis Pamlin, Executive Director, Net-Zero Compatibility Initiative, Mission Innovation
Pourya Salehi, Head of Urban Research, Innovation, and Development Department, ICLEI World Secretariat
Alejandro Kilpatrick, Manager, Capacity-building sub-division, UNFCCC