Nairobi, 12 October 2021 - The Innovate4Cities (I4C) international conference is underway with calls for action from leading voices from across the world, emphasizing climate justice and equity, positive transformation and innovation. The virtual I4C Conference covering Science and Innovation partnerships driving inclusive, resilient, and climate-neutral cities runs until 15 October and is co-hosted by  UN-Habitat and the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy (GCoM).

A wide array of stakeholders gathering for the global virtual gathering co-sponsored by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are showcasing climate action for cities and sharing progress ahead of COP26. So far more than 5,000 city leaders, scientists, researchers, innovators, academics, youth and business leaders have registered to attend.

Speaking during the opening plenary, “Cities and Climate Change Science and Innovation”, former Mayor of New York and Co-chair of GCoM, Michael Bloomberg said: “Research and innovation have always been central to finding and implementing solutions to our biggest problems. And we know where that usually happens - in cities - because cities have always been hubs for testing new ideas and technologies. So it’s up to all of us to support cities as they help lead the fight against climate change. With COP26 just a month away, our hope is that governments around the world will answer the call.”

UN-Habitat Executive Director Maimunah Mohd Sharif underlined the importance of the meeting saying it has a crucial duty to harness the goodwill at the local and regional level, to develop an action plan where all cities and communities can support, invest and commit to implement.

“The Innovate for Cities 2021 Conference comes at a critical time. The critical report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns that human-induced climate change is already causing extreme weather across the globe. At the same time, the COVID-19 health pandemic continues to ravage economies, resulting in social and political crisis.  Globally, exclusion and injustice within countries and within cities could be widely seen. The health and economic impacts of COVID-19, climate change and inequality are all linked. Cities are at the centre of these interconnected crises,” she said.

South African Climate researcher at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Professor Francois Engelbrecht said: “While ambitious mitigation action will allow us to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees, it is more likely than not that we will exceed 1.5C degrees of global warming.  Given the challenging future we face - and the level of ambition required it is clear to respond to it - the changes that are needed are transformative rather than incremental. The regional aspects of these challenges are important if we are to understand the impacts for human and natural communities.”

The Director of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Centre for Entrepreneurship, Small and Medium Enterprises, Regions and Cities, Lamia Kamal-Chaoui, said: “The pandemic has put climate change at centre stage, especially at the local level. As a result, local leaders are investing in green recovery, using the pandemic to do what could not be done before. There has been a sea change since Copenhagen as cities and regions is now widely recognised as important actors. But that there is still a real need to keep bridging across the different levels of government to enable the potential of cities to be fully realised through a shared level of responsibility.”

The Conference sessions and outcomes are knowledge-generating; prioritising exchange between practitioners and researchers and helping to strengthen the innovation mindset of climate change.

The first international Cities and Climate Change Science Conference was held in Edmonton, Canada, from 5-7 March 2018, and was sponsored by United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and co-sponsored by the IPCC. During the Conference 10 partners, including UN-Habitat, brought together over 700 climate scientists, urban academics, policy makers and practitioners to inspire local climate action through science and practice. More information is here.

Conference participant registration is still open – please visit to find out more and reserve your virtual seat.

For more details on the conference contact