Resilience Cities Asia-Pacific Congress ends with deliberations on ‘New Delhi Call’

The Resilience Cities Asia-Pacific 2019 was brought to an end, as Gino Van Begin, Secretary General of ICLEI, and Emani Kumar, Deputy Secretary General of ICLEI, presented the key takeaways of the Congress.

The three-day Congress was composed of 8 plenary sessions and 7 parallel sessions, gathered over 200 participants from 90 local governments of over 25 countries, covering the main pillars of:

  • Localization of global frameworks;
  • Capacity building, peer learning and exchanges on climate knowledge and urban resilience;
  • Participatory governance and inclusive co-creative local level projects – multi-stakeholder involvement in resilience planning and action;
  • Nature-based adaptation; and
  • Financing urban resilience.

On this occasion, Emani Kumar, Deputy Secretary General of ICLEI, also announced and congratulated the 16 nominated members of the Asia LEDS Partnership Steering Committee 2019-2021, who will lead the voluntary regional network in designing, promoting, and/or implementing low-emissions development strategies in Asia.

Guilherme Jonston, Global Resilient Cities Coordinator and Program Manager, of the ICLEI World Secretariat warmly welcomed sub-national governments to participate in the Resilient Cities 2019 in Bonn in June. "This year marks the 10th anniversary of the ICLEI Resilient Cities, the leading platform for local governments, the private sector, international organizations, and academia to discuss the latest developments in urban resilience and adaptation, and will provide an opportunity to bring the dialogue and discussions in RCAP2019 further," he said.

Led by Sunandan Tiwari, Senior Progam Manager, Global Projects of the ICLEI World Secretariat, and Ingrid Coetzee, Senior Manager of the ICLEI Cities Biodiveristy Centre, local governments and participants of RCAP2019 jointly announced the New Delhi Call for Action, which reinforces commitments towards the implementation of the Paris Agreement, integrated with the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, particularly Sustainable Development Goal 11 which seeks to make cities ‘resilient, inclusive and sustainable’, the Sendai Framework, and the New Urban Agenda, by supporting innovative and effective solutions that build resilience to climate change at the sub-national level in the Asia-Pacific region.

RCAP 2019 officially closed as Randhir Sahay, Additional Commissioner, South Delhi Municipal Corporation, delivered his final remarks and appreciation to the participation and contribution of local governments from the Asia-Pacific.

“The forum has set a strong stage for bold and ambitious statements and actions towards sustainability. We are excited to announce the New Delhi Call and its Commitments. I request and hope that each of us will strive for climate resilient actions in our homes and in our cities,” said Mr. Sahay.

International finance organizations discuss improving cities’ access to financing mechanisms to foster lasting, effective strategies towards resilience and urban development

“Money is just money until it is in your pocket. When you put that money out, then it becomes capital,” shared Ms. Supee Teravaninthorn, Director-General of Investment Operations Department of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the People’s Republic of China during the fourth plenary session of Resilient Cities Asia Pacific 2019 which delved into financing urban resilience.

The plenary discussion, moderated by Maryke van Staden, Manager of ICLEI’s Low Emission Development Pathway and Director of ICLEI’s carbonn Center, brought together experts and key representatives of finance organizations in the Asia Pacific Region including the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Agence Française de Dévelopement (AFD) in India, European Investment Bank (EIB), World Business Council for Sustainable Development, KfW in India, and Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI).

To improve access to financing, panelists agree that cities should be supported in designing and planning for integrated, feasible, and bankable environment-related projects. Presenting plans and strategies as viable and innovative solutions to the challenges that a city is facing should include primary goals, targets, and co-benefits across sectors.

“To access financing, cities need to plan for integrated solutions to priority urban challenges and ensure that these are inclusive and responsive to the needs of all sectors,” Mr. Donal Cannon of EIB stressed.

Cities should also look into innovative resource mobilization strategies by looking at their own means first. Supee Teravaninthorn from AIIB explained that there are three main financing mechanisms that are readily accessible to cities and these include budget allocations from national and local governments, debt financing through the private sector, and the use of existing municipal assets in the form of land leases, environmental fees, and taxes.

Stressing the importance of peer-to-peer learning, Shantanu Gotmare of GGGI shared, “Knowledge sharing should be promoted for innovative financing; there is a need to look away from pure engineering solutions and really try to understand and apply concepts of sustainable urban development.”

Building on the discussion about creating robust knowledge mechanisms Zolzaya Enkthur, Climate Change and Project Management Specialist of ADB and Founder of Climate Campaign NGO, Mongolia highlighted the importance of monitoring and evaluating city-led environmental strategies, “As cities prepare to improve capacities in accessing financing mechanisms, they should also ensure that they have prioritized the sectors that they want to address and create monitoring and evaluation systems to monitor and track progress.”

Virinder Sharma of Asian Development Bank and Urban Climate Change Resilience Trust Fund, Christophe Kessler of KFW India, Hans-Peter Egler of South Pole Switzerland, Joe Phelan of World Business Council for Sustainable Development, and Clemence Vidal De La Blache of AFD also served as panelists and resource speakers for the session.

CDKN facilitates discussion on how to enhance effective communication of climate knowledge to meet sub-national needs

ICLEI South Asia, with the support of the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) organised a panel session on the effective communication tools and pathways that can be adopted to meet climate knowledge needs. The session was held on Day 3 of the 4th Resilient Cities Asia-Pacific Congress 2019 in New Delhi.

During the panel discussion, Kinlay Dorjee, Mayor, Thimphu, shared, "Economic development is necessary but environment sustainability will come first. We need to slow down to ensure we leave a healthy, sustainable planet to the future generations."

Some of the core messages discussed were:

  • Localizing the climate information to invest in climate solutions: Addressing local issues shows impacts at regional level.
  • Need to involve the academia, research institutes, youth, women and other relevant stakeholders to improve planning process and to disseminate knowledge and information.
  • Cities have to be ready to receive climate migrants.
  • There is a need to integrate rural and urban stakeholders for integrated climate planning.

“Pilot projects are also about introducing innovative technologies. They are important as it is crucial to test the project on smaller scale before introducing it on a large scale,” said Ruth Erlbeck, Project Director, The Urban Nexus, Regional GIZ.

It was further discussed that the action on climate and the impact of disaster risk information and research findings are dependent upon effective communication. And, for communication to be effective it is important to demystify the scientific language in a format understandable by its audience and making it easily accessible.

On the same lines, W.H.D Shyamalee, Deputy Municipal Commissioner, Matara, Sri Lanka, said, "We need information on climate change to implement plans and projects efficiently. I request the academia and researchers to share downscaled climate knowledge that can be used in planning.”

The discussion from the session helped improve understanding of the knowledge needs at the sub-national level and identify ways and means to meet these needs. It will also help CDKN to design its next course of programmatic action in the region – especially for India, Nepal and Bangladesh.

Closing the session, Shehnaaz Moosa, Director of the CDKN, pointed out, “Climate is a complex problem that needs input from range of stakeholders.”

The session was moderated by Ms. Moosa and the panel included: Sarder Shafiqul Alam, ICCCAD, Bangladesh; Kinlay Dorjee, Mayor, Thimpu, Bhutan; Rudra Singh Tamang, MOFAGA, Nepal; Hariprabha Khadgi Shrestha, Deputy Mayor, Kathmandu, Nepal; W.H.D. Shyamalee. Deputy Municipal Commissioner, Matara Municipal Council, Sri Lanka; Ashraful Haque, Chief Engineer, Rajshahi City Corporation, Bangladesh; Ruth Erlbeck; Bedoshruti Sadhukhan, Senior Programme Coordinator, ICLEI South Asia.