Hosted in Edmonton, Canada, the 2018 Cities and Climate Change Science Conference ran from the 5th-7th March and aimed to “inspire the next frontier of research focused on the science of cities and climate change.” The Cities and Climate Change Science Conference was supported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and looks to increase the role of science in how the global cities of today develop and ensuring that it is done in a sustainable way to protect future generations.
Why is this Summit Important?
Cities around the world are growing. More people are now living in urban areas with a rising population and more migration from rural areas set to increase that even further. Cities are having to learn to use their resources much more efficiently to satisfy the demand of growing populations, as well as deal with the impacts of climate change. Most prominent in the news is Cape Town; a South African city that is having to ration its water resources to the city’s residents.
Science often dictates policy. Whether that’s at an international scale or a local scale, science produces a result based on evidence and policy is created upon the recommendations of that science.
Despite the huge amounts of evidence that point towards man-made climate change, countries have remarkably slow in responding to what the science shows. It’s a huge problem to solve, admittedly, but there is so much more that communities, cities and nations can do to reduce their impact on climate change.
What were the aims of the Conference?
The Conference has three main objectives:
- Identify key research and knowledge gaps with regards to cities and climate change
- Inspire global and regional research that will lead to peer-reviewed publications and scientific reports, co-designed and co-produced knowledge leading to effective and inclusive urban practices
- Stimulate research on Cities and Climate Change during the AR6 cycle
To achieve those objectives, there are 8 aims of the Conference:
- Take stock of the scientific literature, data and other sources of knowledge that have emerged around cities and climate change since the close of the Fifth Assessment Report and build on ongoing work as part of the AR6 cycle
- Identify key gaps n the scientific literature, in keeping with the emphasis that arises from the scoping of the AR6 and its three Special Reports and international, regional and national policy and implementation imperatives that emerge from COP21, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the New Urban Agenda
- Identify key research and knowledge gaps with the aim of stimulating new research, the findings of which to be assessed in the Seventh Assessment Report’s Special Report on Cities and Climate Change
- Develop novel assessment frameworks that take into account the systemic linkages, synergies and trade-offs between urban systems and climate change, especially action at the local scale
- Identify the research gaps in terms of policy and implementation in order to facilitate the consideration of such areas in anticipation of the Special Report in Cities and Climate Change
- Bring together key urban and climate change stakeholders to identify priorities for scientific and policy research during the AR6 cycle and to simulate the co-design and co-production of actionable knowledge
- Building on established United Nations, IPCC member government and research network initiatives, help define appropriate global, regional and local monitoring systems and data architectures to facilitate scientific research and to help inform evidence-based policy development on climate change and cities
- Establish a partner-based platform to systematically accumulate, assess, analyse and disseminate information on science-policy-practice linkages that enable an upscaling and mainstreaming of urban climate actions at all scales
More information can be found on the IPCC Cities Conference website
So was it Successful?
Judging the success of the Conference so soon is difficult as it is something that will be observed over time. During the 3-day event, scientists, policymakers, researchers and development experts identified what knowledge there is of cities and climate change and how cities and urban areas can move forward and tackle climate change. Something that was completely agreed on was the need for change to happen now and without delay.
How you can Help!
Ultimately, this is something that cities are having to plan for and consider as they develop and absorb the growing global urban population. But there is still lots each of us can do. Our carbon footprints can be reduced by taking public transport where possible instead of using a car and even changing our diets and we can all reduce the amount of water we use by taking shorter showers or reducing the amount used in gardens. That’s just two examples of small changes we can make to reduce the environmental impacts we’re all having on our urban areas. All of those small actions reduce the pressures on local and national governments and will reduce our environmental impact.
Side note: For those of you that have been reading my work on Think Sustainability, you’ll see that (almost) every Wednesday I look at ways in which cities around the world are becoming more sustainable.