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COP28 announces new partnerships, initiatives to advance sustainable urban development

Over 40 ministers met on Wednesday, December 6, 2023, in Dubai in support of subnational climate action, joining the COP28 Presidency to announce a series of partnerships to accelerate the net-zero transition and climate resilience in cities.

Sultan Al Jaber
Dr Sultan Al Jaber, COP28 President. Photo credit: AFP

The announcements span sectors including buildings, waste and resource management systems, urban water resilience, and urban nature restoration. They build on the December 1 launch of the Coalition for High Ambition Multilevel Partnerships for Climate Action (CHAMP) to include cities and regions in the design of federal climate commitments and strategies.

“Meeting the aims of the Paris Agreement and keeping 1.5°C within reach depends on the leadership and support of the world’s mayors and governors,” said Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, COP28 President. “That is why at COP28 we have empowered leaders and communities by launching CHAMP and working with organisations like UN-Habitat and Bloomberg Philanthropies to recognise and support the important roles cities and their leaders can play in addressing climate change.”

Multilevel Action, Urbanisation, Built Environment and Transport Day hosted the second Urban Climate Ministerial, co-organised with United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), and the UN Climate Change High-Level Champion for COP28, and concludes a week of unprecedented mayoral and gubernatorial participation in the COP process. Brazil’s Minister of Cities, Jader Barbalho Filho, closed the meeting by announcing Brazil’s plans to widen participation and mobilisation for the Ministerial at COP30.

The COP28 Presidency and Bloomberg Philanthropies partnered to deliver the Local Climate Action Summit (LCAS) (December 1-2), which saw over 500 subnational leaders join the summit portion of a COP for the first time. Nearly $500 million of new city-focused climate investment was also announced.

December 6 outcomes include:

The Buildings Breakthrough

The Buildings Breakthrough, launched with the support of 27 countries, is led by France and Morocco. The partnership aims to make “near-zero and resilient buildings” the new normal by 2030, addressing the fact that the building sector alone accounts for nearly 40 percent of global energy-related CO2 emissions, 50 percent of extracted materials, and one-third of global waste.

The Cement Breakthrough

The Cement and Concrete Breakthrough was launched by Canada and the UAE, along with an inaugural cohort of endorsing countries that include the United Kingdom, Ireland, Japan and Germany. The initiative strives to make clean cement the preferred choice in global markets, with near-zero emission cement production established and growing in every region of the world by 2030.

The Waste to Zero initiative

Waste to Zero is a voluntary coalition made up of governments of all levels, NGOs, and the private sector to decarbonise the waste management sector and transform waste into resources. Waste to Zero is an official initiative under the UAE’s “Year of Sustainability” and spearheaded by the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE), Abu Dhabi Waste Management Company (Tadweer), and Roland Berger.

The Waste MAP

The Waste MAP is the first-ever global platform to use satellite monitoring to track and measure methane emissions from waste, developed by the Global Methane Hub, Google Foundation, Rocky Mountain Institute, Clean Air Taskforce (CATF), the Netherlands Institute for Space Research (SRON)/GHGSat, and Carbon Mapper. Local governments and NGOs can use the platform to identify and mitigate methane emissions before they become hazardous. The platform is set to go live in 20 global megacities that are collectively home to over 100 million people.

Two new programmes to accelerate the adoption of 15-minute city (15MC)/proximity planning policies and measure their impact

C40, a network of nearly 100 mayors of the world’s leading cities, is increasing actions to accelerate the adoption of the 15-minute City (15MC) – highly liveable, walkable, and people-oriented cities. The Green and Thriving Neighbourhoods programme created in collaboration with Urban Partners provides deep support to more than 40 cities to help them turn the 15MC into reality through the implementation of concrete pilot projects.

C40 also launched a tool to measure the impacts of 15MC with Novo Nordisk. The Healthy Neighbourhoods Explorer, created with Novo Nordisk’s Cities will enable policymakers to measure how 15MCs significantly reduce emissions and offer residents better health.

The Generation Restoration project

Guided by the Paris Agreement and the Global Biodiversity Framework, the Generation Restoration project (2023-2025) is currently supporting pilot projects to catalyse urban ecosystem restoration and emissions mitigation in eight world cities. These cities include Douala (Cameroon); Dakar-Plateau & Thies (Senegal); Quezon City (the Philippines); Kochi (India); Sirajganj (Bangladesh); Samborondon (Ecuador); Mexico City (Mexico); and Manaus (Brazil).

Commitments to fossil fuel-free land transport

World transport systems are vital for people’s lives and livelihoods, with transport representing around 22 percent of global carbon emissions.

The COP28 Presidency, the UAE Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure, the International Transport Forum, and the International Energy Agency have come together to organise the first ever transport-energy ministerial at a COP. Working closely with key delivery partners, including the SLOCAT Partnership, the Air Transport Action Group and the UN Climate Change High-Level Champions team, the COP28 Presidency spotlighted key solutions to decarbonise the transport sector.

The sustainable land transport community, led primarily by the SLOCAT Partnership, agreed to mark the first ever World Sustainable Transport Day on November 26, 2023, and issued a call to action to double the share of energy efficient and fossil-free forms of land transport by 2030. Initiated by SLOCAT and REN21 jointly with IDDRI, Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP), International Association of Railways (UIC), International Union of Railways (UITP) and World Resources Institute (WRI) and endorsed by Chile and Columbia and 60 multi stakeholder organisations.

‘A Playbook for Nature-Positive Infrastructure Development’

“A Playbook for Nature-Positive Infrastructure Development”, in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the International Federation of Consulting Engineers (FIDIC) spotlights the construction sector’s role in conserving and restoring natural ecosystems. The playbook draws from some of the world’s most important infrastructure projects, to offer practitioners a wide range of nature-based solutions that put nature at the heart of infrastructure design.

Forest & Climate Leaders’ Partnership’s (FCLP) Greening Construction with Sustainable Wood initiative

Together, the Buildings Breakthrough, Cement Breakthrough, and the FCLP’s Greening Construction with Sustainable Wood initiative, aim to unlock intergovernmental and multi-level collaboration in response to the Global Stocktake. They offer national governments and other stakeholders a framework to rapidly transform the building sector with greater mitigation, adaptation, and resilience.

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