Climate Change Governance

Wednesday, 9 December, 2020

Cities on the Frontline Speaker Series #31 - Climate Change Governance (November 26, 2020)

COVID-19 is still running its course while resilience challenges related to rapid rate of urbanization, natural disasters and climate change remain. Quoting Brian Strong, the Chief Resilience Officer for San Francisco, “I have not seen any projections of sea level rise slowing down as a result of the Covid crisis,” (the New York Times, April 2020).

The compounding crises are affecting cities financial capacity. In our 29th session of Cities on the Frontline, Roland White, the Municipal Financing lead from World Bank shared “We have seen two main impacts of COVID-19 on city budgets. Cities with a significant role in health face increases in unexpected costs. Second, with an increase in costs and decrease in revenues, they’ve cut capital projects“.

Still, we can see this pandemic as a moment to reflect and identify opportunities. In our earlier session, CRO Piero from Milan shared how the lock down reduced the pollution level where according to the European Space Agency, NO2 levels have fallen around 40 percent in Milan. We are also hearing how city leaders are responding with creative solutions, recognizing that actions in response to the pandemic can also make cities greener and more climate resilient. Addis AbabaBogotaKampalaBerlin and Brussels created new bike lanes to reduce risk of COVID-19 transmission and decrease congestion, pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions[1]. What other actions are cities taking or are contemplating to address long-term climate risks as they start to think about recovering from the pandemic?

This session highlighted the reflection on the challenges and opportunities of compounding crises – pandemic and climate-related crises, as well as the reflection on how cities are trying to address climate risks as they start to emerge from the pandemic.

[1] Building Climate-Resilient and Equitable Cities During COVID-19


  • Arnoud MolenaarChief Resilience Officer, Rotterdam and Co-lead for the Resilient Cities Action Track for the Global Commission on Adaptation
  • Dr. Duncan BookerCOP26 Stakeholder Manager, Glasgow City Council and acting Chief Resilience Officer​
  • Desmond AppiahChief Sustainability and Resilience Advisor, Accra​
  • Dr. Jayshree Vencatesan, Urban Ecologist, Care Earth Trust, Chennai

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