Six years ago in Paris, almost all nations in the world agreed to keep the temperature increases well below 2℃ above the pre-industrial levels, or ideally, 1.5℃. Currently, our planet is already at 1.1℃ compared with the average in the previous century, and it’s constantly rising. Therefore, this means that we are stillway behind our commitments on the Paris Agreement, which was a cause for concern as mentioned by Antonio Guterres as Secretary General of the UN at the World Leaders Summit of COP26

The evidence is everywhere, and apparent; floods, droughts, and wildfires have been recorded throughout the years. This challenging situation is making climate change one of the most pressing issues of humanity today. Saving the planet from a crisis definitely requires solidarity, cooperation, and global collaboration.

World leaders gather annually at climate change conferences to discuss how far their countries have contributed towards tackling climate change and plan future objectives. Meanwhile, citizens are doing their best to achieve sustainable change by living a more eco-friendly lifestyle.

However, the contribution from the government and its people is not enough to address the climate emergency. It takes active participation from every level in the community, including non-state actors, to reduce environmental damage and create a more resilient future.

As the world leaders assemble in Glasgow Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC COP26) this November 2021 and the rest of the world witnessed the outcomes of this highly anticipated climate summit; it’s best for us to revisit the global campaigns which underline the essential role of actors between nations and their people in climate action. Those campaigns are Race to Zero and Race to Resilience.


Definitions of Race to Zero and Race to Resilience
Race to Zero and Race to Resilience are two global campaigns initiated by the United Nations (UN) and broadly focus on the issue of climate change. Nigel Topping and Gonzalo Muñoz, as the High-Level Climate Champions for Climate Action, lead both campaigns. The Race to Zero and Race to Resilience initiatives are like siblings, same but slightly different.

1. Race to Zero
Race to Zero was first introduced to the general public in June 2020 by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This campaign encourages all participants, from cities, regions, businesses, investors, and others, to immediately take serious efforts to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2030.

This campaign aims to build momentum for non-state actors to transform into a less-carbon economy prior to COP26 and support the government’s attempts to achieve the Paris Agreement targets. This campaign also mobilises participants to join the Climate Ambition Alliance, initiated at the 2019 Climate Action Summit.

2. Race to Resilience
Meanwhile, its sibling, the Race to Resilience, was launched at the Climate Adaptation Summit last January 2021. This initiative will work with non-state actors, including cities, regions, businesses, investors, and others, to build resilience and adapt to the consequences of climate change for the communities vulnerable to the impacts no later than 2030. 

The resilience and adaptation development efforts on the campaign include:

  • Transforming urban slums into healthy, clean, and safe cities.
  • Equipping smallholder farmers to adapt and thrive.
  • Protecting homes and businesses against climate impacts.


Why do the campaigns matter?
The Race to Zero and Race to Resilience are two indispensable campaigns in facing the challenges of climate change. These campaigns are a significant step for non-state actors to realise the targets stated in the Paris Agreement alongside the nations and people.

The Race to Zero goals of achieving zero carbon emissions and transforming to a less-carbon economy are critical to prevent upcoming threats, create decent jobs, and open the way to inclusive yet sustainable growth. Building climate resilience through the Race to Resilience campaign means helping communities, businesses, and economies better prepare, recover, and thrive despite the impacts of climate change. This also means protecting and restoring our global resources such as air, water, forests, oceans, and mangroves that support our lives.

Race to Zero and Race to Resilience initiatives need to be run together for a better zero-carbon and resilient future. With the collaboration between the two campaigns, we can establish a green economy while surviving and thriving in the terrible effects of climate change.

The targets of Race to Zero and Race to Resilience will certainly not be achieved if there is no collective and inclusive cooperation from every actor involved in the campaigns. This is a new challenge for all of us when dealing with the climate crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic at once. Therefore, a green and fair resilience climate action and sustained recovery from COVID-19 are urgently needed.


UCLG ASPAC as a proud partner for Cities Race to Zero and Cities Race to Resilience
One of the most important at the forefront of climate disasters are cities. Cities are also the first responders to any crises related to climate change. But on the other side, cities are significant contributors to the climate crisis. According to the United Nations (UN), cities consume 78% of the world’s energy and generate over 60% of the total greenhouse gas emissions. However, they only cover less than 2% of the Earth’s surface. With that said, the involvement of cities in every effort to fight climate change is crucial to help governments strengthen their contribution to the Paris Agreement. Of course, resilient climate action is only possible with the involvement of all stakeholders such as businesses, investors and civil society as a whole. This notion is becoming increasingly important amidst the global COVID-19 crisis and therefore all efforts toward resilient climate action also contributes to delivering a green and just recovery post-COVID-19. 

Therefore, United Cities and Local Governments Asia Pacific (UCLG ASPAC) is proud to take action by supporting and advocating for cities to join the Cities Race to Zero and Cities Race to Resilience. The Cities Race to Zero and Cities Race to Resilience are tracking measurements for Race to Zero and Race to Resilience campaigns for cities only, where cities come together to show support for inclusive climate change action in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement. UCLG ASPAC is also the Southeast Asia Secretariat for Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy (GCoM), therefore this is also part of fulfilling its role as Secretariat to gather more and more cities and regions to join and express their commitments to accelerate measurable climate and energy initiatives that lead to an inclusive, low-emission and climate resilient future. Another form of support is consolidation amongst networks of local and regional governments. 

Together with other partners, such as C40 Cities, CDP Worldwide, Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy (GCoM), ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI), Resilient Cities Network, World Wildlife Fund (WWF), and the World Resources Institute (WRI); we have collaborated with recruiting cities around the world to successfully achieve the Race to Zero and Race to Resilience goals ahead of and beyond the UNFCCC COP26.

This collaboration from UCLG ASPAC and other partners is urgently needed to support and ensure that every effort made by non-state actors, in this case, cities, to achieve net-zero and create resilient futures is under the established science-based targets.