Glasgow, Scotland, November 2021 - UN-Habitat and the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate hosted a hybrid side event at the UN Climate Conference, COP26, in Glasgow, Scotland to champion urban climate finance and discussed opportunities for mobilizing resources to support the cause.

The session “Cities, Climate Change Science and Innovation: outcomes from the Innovate4Cities Conference” – explored the outcomes from the I4C Conference held from 11 – 15 October 2021  hosted by the two organizations and co-sponsored by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Participants at the session reflected on the engagements of more than 7000 city leaders, researchers, innovators, youth and business leaders at the I4C Conference which focused on how science and innovation drive better implementation and how city innovation benefits science in turn.

During the event, Maryke van Staden, Director of the Carbon Climate Center at the Local Governments for Sustainability Network  (ICLEI) said: “There are a number of challenges flagged by local governments, how they struggle to access finance quite often due to national regulations or the fact that local governments themselves are not credit-worthy. We are looking for more financial innovations in terms of options that should be expanded that should be opened to local governments in order for them to ensure that priority projects that are flagged are actually being implemented and financed at the scale and the tempo needed.”

The Head of Research and Innovation at GCoM, Jorn Verbeeck, said: “We need to really better understand what is the local context, what is the local DNA? Because it’s easy to get stuck into the jargon in big systemic talks…..If we talk about informality, urban planning and design, financing and data, to really see how does it apply to a particular city and to then better understand what is needed are the enablers, the barriers that we need to address if we want to transfer it to another city.”

Lead Urban Specialist, Cities and Climate Change at the World Bank Group, Joanna Masic told the meeting: “A lot needs to be done to mobilize more urban climate finance. This cannot be financed from the public purse alone; it has to come from a range of partnerships that can bring together the actions to address climate change in cities. There’s still a huge gap towards financing city action towards emissions reduction and particularly adaptation.”

The Head of Communications and Sustainability, Metropolitan Municipality of Lima, Peru, Lorena Montellanos O’Diana, participating as a city representative, emphasized the need for more inclusiveness to achieve a more cohesive climate action plans for cities:

“In 2019 we committed – from the municipality of Lima – to a more ambitious climate action. After a long process that included participation of civil society, private sector, academia and youth, we approved our local climate plan whose objective is to reduce GHG at the local level by 30 per cent by 2030 at the same time increase resilience and reduce vulnerability of the population against climate hazards.”

Some of the key priorities outlined to elevate urban climate finance at scale included: Greening the existing city finance, i.e. how to embed climate action across the spatial plans, capital investment plans and the budget planning; exploring new sources of finance from private sectors particularly from urban households; and ensuring that the impact of every dollar spent in cities is maximized to ensure that spending is towards green and resilient pathways for cities.

UN-Habitat’s Bernhard Barth, said: “We try to engage with youth, we try to engage with indigenous communities, we try to have voices of informal settlement communities but we have the basic challenges of the digital divide. To ensure that stronger inclusion and of course having individual sessions to turn those into real dialogue (in the conference)……then I would hope for that in the future.”