Programme launches to accelerate climate adaptation in 1,000 cities

Sarah Wray

Programme launches to accelerate climate adaptation in 1,000 cities

by Sarah Wray | Cities Today | 26 January 2021

Cities across the world have pledged to adopt principles and make “smart investments” to ensure their pandemic recovery plans also bolster climate resilience.

At the two-day virtual Climate Adaptation Summit 2021 yesterday, the mayors of Miami, Paris and Rotterdam joined the World Resources Institute (WRI), the Global Center on Adaptation, and more than three dozen other cities, governments and NGOs to launch the new 1000 Cities Act Now initiative.

The global programme aims to see comprehensive climate resilience strategies and adaptation measures underway in 1,000 cities by 2030, starting with a first batch of 100.

“As cities recover from COVID-19, smart investments and policies on resilience can create a triple dividend helping cities boost their economies, improving equity, and preparing communities for inevitable climate and health threats,” a joint statement said.

According to the Global Commission on Adaptation’s Adapt Now report, adaptation investments consistently deliver high returns, with benefit-cost ratios ranging from 2:1 to 10:1. Further, the research finds that when compared to traditional investments, adaptation investments often create more jobs, many of which are at the local level.

Five principles

The first cohort of cities will work with an alliance of partners on implementing measures to:

  • Strengthen and prioritise urban adaptation and climate resilience, with a focus on equity and the most vulnerable and poor communities
  • Build water-resilient cities and scale nature-based solutions
  • Advocate for more devolved mandates and funding for cities and advance coordinated leadership to gain political leverage and financing at scale
  • Enhance knowledge and capacity on urban adaptation and support peer-to-peer collaboration
  • Coordinate methods, innovations, partners and investments to maximise impact and accelerate implementation

The Global Center on Adaptation and WRI will lead on building a 10-year programme and growing the 1000 Cities Act Now network. The work will include developing indicators to track progress and adding city resilience data to the Global Covenant of Mayors’ database.

“2021 marks a very important year for climate action,” said Andrew Steer, President and CEO, WRI. “And this includes in particular adaptation because climate change is already here and it is hurting people around the world.”

In 2020, wildfires, floods and storms accounted for more than US$210 billion of loss around the world, according to  reinsurance company Munich Re.

Resilience in Rotterdam

Arnoud Molenaar, Chief Resilience Officer, City of Rotterdam, told Cities Today in October that: “COVID is giving us new insights but also a new trigger to focus even harder than before on resilience.”

His team is updating the city’s resilience strategy in light of the pandemic and other learnings over the last four years since it was launched.

As part of its COVID-19 economic recovery plan, Rotterdam recently announced seven city projects (the ‘Big 7’), which aim to boost the economy and liveability, with a focus on green infrastructure and climate adaptation as well as creating jobs and attracting businesses. Other key initiatives which are now being accelerated in Rotterdam include the use of a ‘filter’ tool, which is a set of principles to help the city make decisions, with citizens, about which ideas or actions to prioritise. The leading principle is that programmes have to contribute to a more resilient society and economy.

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[Image: City of Rotterdam]​ - Westblaak 'green lung' initiative, one of Rotterdam's Big 7 resilience projects