In this lecture Cathy Oke, from the Global Covenant of Mayors and the University of Melbourne, presents Innovate4Cities, a city led perspective on the research and innovation (including knowledge, tools and partnerships) that cities need to meet their climate action ambition. The lecture emphasizes that accelerated and coordinated knowledge generation is essential to best position city climate leaders to implement innovative climate solutions.


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Issues which the lecture addresses

The Innovate4Cities initiative grew out of the 2018 Cities and Climate Change Science Conference in Edmonton, Canada, to accelerate global city climate action. The conference purpose was to assess the state of academic and practice-based knowledge related to cities and climate change, and to establish a global research agenda based on the joint identification of key gaps by the academic, practitioner and urban policy-making communities.

This conference was the foundation upon which Innovate4Cities, convened by the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, was launched at the end of 2018, as a city-focused research and innovation initiative that addresses critical data, innovation and technological gaps to enable cities to take accelerated and ambitious climate action. Co-developed by cities, city networks, scientists and research institutions and leading private sector entities, the initiative focuses on the areas most critical to drive climate action in cities. The lecture presents the history and objectives of Innovate4Cities, and unpacks the currently identified research and innovation gaps to meet cities climate action ambition. 


Short analysis of the above issues 

Innovate4Cities is facilitated by the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy through its Research and Innovation Technical Working Group (TWG). Through this, TWG city networks and other urban focussed researchers are working together to align efforts and establish a single collaborative research agenda that addresses the identified gaps. This has involved the identification of research ‘gaps’ by analyzing ongoing and upcoming projects from leading city climate organizations, with the purpose of ensuring the efficient use of time and resources, maximizing opportunities for collaboration and minimizing duplication of effort. 


Propositions for addressing the issue

The intention of this lecture is to emphasize that accelerated and coordinated knowledge generation is essential to best position city climate leaders to implement innovative climate solutions.



Dr Cathy Oke has over 20 years professional and academic experience in urban sustainability and city leadership. She is a strong advocate for policy change to recognize the role cities play in driving action on global environmental issues, and in particular the intersection with research for greater impact. Cathy is currently Enterprise Senior Fellow in Informed Cities in the Connected Cities Lab within the Faculty of Architecture Building and Planning at the University of Melbourne, and in this role she is a senior advisor on research and innovation for the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy. Cathy was previously, for 5 years, the Knowledge Broker at the Clean Air and Urban Landscapes (CAUL) research hub, of the National Environmental Science Program, based at the University of Melbourne. Cathy Oke has also been a Councillor at the City of Melbourne since 2008. She is the chair of the Environment Portfolio and deputy chair of the Finance and Governance and Aboriginal City Portfolios. She was in the Transport portfolio for 10 years. Cathy is also the Vice President of ICLEI, Local Governments for Sustainability, and chairs their research portfolio and is a key advisory of the CitiesWithNature program.




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