The COVID-19 pandemic has given the unprecedented challenges: from the global pandemic, economic recession, meanwhile climate crisis remains happening globally. As governments scramble to strategise over the competing demands for resources, the discourse on climate emergency, an equally urgent and important global issue that threatens a new crisis in the immediate future, should not be left behind. Therefore, this period presents an opportune time to maximise the synergies of post-pandemic recovery and enhance community resilience against the impending climate crisis that will enable local and national governments to “build back better.”
It is no longer a doubt that cities are at the heart of climate action and adaptation. Due to their rapid population growth, urban development is also accelerating, thus creating impacts on the environment, such as climate change. With the pandemic of COVID-19, cities have learnt to be more resilient in every sense of crisis that faces in the near future. A green and just recovery that builds a resilient future is essential to overcome COVID-19 and counter climate change.
This is also apparent at a more local level, where cities networks are also creating pacts and partnerships to achieve zero emissions by 2030 and for cities and its people to be more resilient. It is crucial to take initiatives in bridging aspects of science, innovation, policy and practice towards enabling cities to take accelerated and more ambitious climate action with action agenda.
The climate action agenda should be more focused on climate justice, innovative solutions and approaches to climate action, green strategies, climate resilience, and climate action’s overall connection with post-pandemic recovery. it requires not only further increase awareness and capacity of cities and local governments in implementing their climate action plans, but it is also a need to foster collaboration and partnerships.
Highlighting the urgency to limit global warming under 1.5 degrees is one of the main climate action agenda of local governments in the region, which comprises many urbanised cities. That fact alone has exposed Asian urban cities to the dangers of climate change because of specific geographical characteristics and being in such close proximity to nature.
The Asia-Pacific Climate Week 2021 Virtual Thematic Sessions held in July 2021 was sending a strong signal that regional momentum for climate action can contribute to success at the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference COP26 in November in Glasgow. The sessions highlighted that the Asia-Pacific regions emits more than half of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and is one of the most rapidly developing regions of the world, with a significant proportion of the global population. And it is home to most of the world’s low-lying cities and vulnerable small island states.
This November, the COP26 is showcasing momentum from the whole of society, and focus on key issues to drive ambition and action. This event will accelerate urgent action to secure global net zero by mid-century and keep 1.5°C within reach; help communities and natural habitats to adapt to the impacts of climate change; demonstrate that public and private finance is being mobilised for the climate; and bring countries, businesses, civil society, and citizens together to deliver on the Paris Agreement.
UCLG ASPAC as the Global Covenant of Mayors (GCoM) Secretariat for Southeast Asia in taking role to lead coordination and consolidation of GCoM in Asia Pacific acknowledges that the region collectively could contribute to the overall climate efforts internationally. In addition to that, UCLG ASPAC understands the role of local governments and cities in building climate resilience arises due to the current condition. Therefore, UCLG ASPAC has been giving continuous support to provide plentiful access of information. This exposure is the support local governments and cities could benefit from to achieve short-term and long-term implementations.
In addressing the importance of COP26 agenda and results, UCLG ASPAC is taking initiative to provide update information on key findings and messages taken from COP29 through series articles and contents through the website and social media under the UCLG ASPAC platform. This initiative is also part of UCLG ASPAC contribution to COP26 agenda and the follow up actions needs to be taken.