28 February 2022: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has just released its latest report: Climate Change 2022, Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. The report confirms that the world faces “unavoidable multiple climate hazards over the next two decades with global warming of 1.5°C (2.7°F)”. Exceeding this level in warming will further aggravate the impacts, “some of which will be irreversible.” As the UN Secretary-General António Guterres said “Today’s IPCC report is an atlas of human suffering and a damning indictment of failed climate leadership.”

The IPCC scientists point out that climate change interacts with global trends such as unsustainable use of natural resources and growing urbanization. Inequity, conflict, poverty, weak governance, and limited access to basic services, increases sensitivity to hazards and limits communities’ ability to adapt to climatic changes. IPCC Working Group II Co-Chair Debra Roberts sums up: “growing urbanization and climate change create complex risks, especially for those cities that already experience poorly planned urban growth, high levels of poverty and unemployment, and a lack of basic services”.

Climate risks for cities have significantly increased since the last IPCC Assessment Report in 2014. In particular informal settlements, where precarious locations and housing as well as limited access to basic services are identified as highly vulnerable.

The report points to key actions to be taken, many of which require action in cities and by urban decision makers at all levels in partnership with the private sector, civil society and other urban stakeholders.

Opportunities to advance climate resilient development in cities include implementing integrated, inclusive planning and integration of climate change concerns into investments in urban infrastructure, including social and ecological infrastructures. Safeguarding biodiversity and ecosystems and ensuring equitable outcomes contributes has multiple be to multiple benefits for health and well-being, including for marginalized and vulnerable communities.

UN-Habitat together with the Global Covenant of Mayors (GCoM) and the IPCC hosted the Innovate4Cities Conference in 2021. With over 880 speakers and 190 sessions, this event brought together science and innovation partnerships driving inclusive, resilient, and climate-neutral cities. The outcome of the conference, including the updated Global Research and Action Agenda (GRAA) on local Climate Action, highlight cutting-edge good practices and identify knowledge and innovation gaps. The GRAA provides the framework and research direction for the IPCC Special Report on Cities and Climate Change which is planned as part of the next IPCC Assessment Cycle.

In response to the outcomes of the Innovate4Cities conference and with the clear guidance that this latest IPCC report provides, UN-Habitat will be able to further strengthen the agency’s support to member states, cities and communities. Priorities for UN-Habitat over the next two years will include the acceleration of the flagship programme RISE UP: Resilient Settlements for the Urban Poor; building on projects supported by the Adaptation Fund in 15 countries and for five more countries undergoing approval. Other priorities are the expansion of the climate change innovation programme, access to climate finance and strengthened multilevel climate governance as well as the integration of climate concerns in urban planning and sectoral programmes. UN-Habitat will continue to work closely with member states and key global partners such as the Global Covenant of Mayors and Local Governments for Sustainability, ICLEI.