UN-Habitat at COP27

The UN Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP) is the main decision-making body of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and is held every year, to assess the measures of the parties to limit climate change. This year the 27th Conference of the Parties (COP27) will be held in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, from 6 to 18 November.

On 17 November 2022, the Egyptian COP27 Presidency with the support of UN-Habitat will convene the first-ever Ministerial Meeting on Urbanization and Climate Change at a UN Climate Change Conference of Parties, focusing on housing, urban development, multilevel action in relation to climate change.

This event will also attract the participation of other Ministers for Housing, Urban Development, Environment and Climate Change, representatives of local and regional governments through the Local Governments and Municipal Authorities (LGMA) Constituency to the UNFCCC, as well as non-party and non-state actors such as academia, civil society, non-governmental organizations, think tanks, the private sector, urban networks, multilateral banks, UN agencies and intergovernmental organizations, and other UNFCCC Observers, and international and national media and press.

The Ministerial Meeting will reinforce the commitment of the Paris Agreement for multi-level climate action and will commit to accelerated climate change mitigation, climate change adaptation action and local climate finance. Further the Sustainable Urban Resilience for the Next Generation (SURGe) Initiative will be launched at the event.

The Ministerial Meeting will take place on Thursday, 17 November 2022, 10:00 - 12:00 (UNFCCC COP27 – Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, Blue Zone, Area E, Meeting room MR 20). 

Cities are key actors in the climate crisis

By 2050, towns and cities are expected to grow by 2.5 billion people raising the urban share to 68% of the global population. Growing urbanization and population growth, coupled with economic development and rising prosperity are expected to contribute to rising emissions in cities. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has warned that without drastic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, global warming will not be held to the target of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. With global warming comes extreme weather events that are acutely felt in cities. Never before has the IPCC highlighted the role of cities for climate change mitigation and adaptation to the extent done in its two most recent reports.

Cities are especially vulnerable to the impacts of climate change

  • More than 90% of the world’s urban areas are located along coastlines, where rising sea levels and storms threaten inhabitants and infrastructure with flooding and strong winds.
  • More than 10% of the world’s physical assets and population are located in urban centers and clusters in low elevation coastal zones (less than 10 meters above sea level). 

The climate battle will be won or lost in cities.

  • Around 11,500 local governments have committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to climate change through the Global Covenant of Mayors.
  • The 1,000+ cities and local governments signing onto the Race to Zero represent 722 million people.

Investment in urban climate resilience infrastructure is not enough.  

  • Just 21% of climate finance goes towards adaptation and resilience (equivalent to USD 16.7 billion annually); and only around 10% of climate investments reach the local level.
  • By 2030, the UN Environment Programme estimates that the developing world will have to spend up to USD 300 billion a year just to cope with exacerbated climate impacts.
Cities are key actors in the climate crisis

The SURGe Initiative

An opportunity to advance multi-level climate action.

Addressing climate change challenges, the COP27 Presidency, in collaboration with UN-Habitat and with the facilitation of ICLEI, developed the Sustainable Urban Resilience for the next Generation (SURGe) Initiative, seeking to achieve sustainable and resilient urban systems through strengthen the implementation of the climate agenda in and with cities; unlocking urban climate finance; capacity-building and ensuring equity.

UN-Habitat, the Egyptian COP27 Presidency, the Egyptian Ministry of Housing, Utilities and Urban Communities and ICLEI briefed Member States and Core Partners on the initiative in Nairobi on 09 September in the presence of Ambassador, Ayman Tharwat Amin, Deputy Director of the Department of Climate, Environment and Sustainable Development, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and UN-Habitat Executive Director, Maimunah Mohd Sharif.

The SURGe Initiative was developed in a collaborative process, building on a first stakeholder meeting at the World Urban Forum in Katowice in June 2022, a stakeholder consultation workshop took place in Cairo in July 2022, bringing together over 120 participants from national governments as well as international organizations, civil society, academia, private sector and NGOs. The draft concept note also underwent a large and open peer review process.

Working Groups
Figure 1: The Five Working Groups of the SURGe Initiative (The Five Working Groups include Building and Housing, Urban Waste / Consumption, Urban Energy, Urban Mobility, and Urban Water)

The SURGe Initiative will be launched at COP27 on 17 November 2022, as part of the Ministerial Meeting on Urbanization and Climate Change. 

To join the SURGe initiative register via the link or for further information read the concept note