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Discussions at the 11th Focal Point Forum on Human Settlements and Adaptation
Country delegates, international experts and representatives of NWP partner organizations discussed the challenges and opportunities for enhancing climate resilience in human settlements worldwide.

The NWP 11th Focal Point Forum provided the opportunity for delegates from Parties, NWP partner organizations' focal points and other relevant human settlements experts to discuss the results of the submissions and emerging issues on human settlements and adaptation. Particular focus was placed on identifying actions to respond to identified gaps and needs in order to scale up adaptation actions for human settlements.

Carlos Fuller, the Chair of the SBSTA provided the overall context for and objective of the forum. He underscored that the forum provided an excellent opportunity for policymakers, researchers, scientific communities and practitioners not just to exchange information, but also to identify areas of strategic collaboration in order to close critical gaps and inform adaptation actions in human settlements.

In her keynote presentation, Aisa Kirabo Kacyira, the Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), provided an overview of the interlinkages between climate change and human settlements, citing examples of natural disasters and their implications for those living in human settlements. She highlighted that a high proportion of the populations and economic activities most vulnerable to climate change impacts reside in cities. As a final point, she reinforced the message that failing to address climate change impacts jeopardizes past development initiatives, and that getting urbanization right will actively contribute to resilience building and to sustainable development. Following this, Habiba Al-Khatib, a youth representative provided some concrete examples of the options open to tropical cities in both high and low income countries to respond to climate-sensitive vector-borne diseases. On a final introductory note, a representative of the secretariat provided an overview of the key findings of the submissions made on human settlements and adaptation.

Following this, human settlements experts facilitated focus group discussions, concentrating on adaptation challenges in human settlements, as well as current efforts and future opportunities to address them. At the end of the focus group discussions, designated rapporteurs summarized the discussion results (detailed results are available by clicking on the hyperlinks below):

    Group one discussed assessing sensitivity and vulnerability to climate change.
    • They identified small-scale spatial variations in vulnerability and variations in vulnerability over time as assessment challenges. Limited data collection and analysis skills within communities, as well as the need for effective cross-sectoral coordination to address them, magnify these challenges.
    • Working with communities to collect gender disaggregated and spatially disaggregated data over time and using mediators to reformat data into usable forms would help address the identified challenges. Additionally, working with the private sector was identified as a way to access better data and support for climate action.

    Group two discussed integrating short- and long-term climate considerations into adaptation planning.
    • Challenges identified included a mismatch between city-level public sector planning and infrastructure investment life-cycles, as well as planning conducted retro-actively in response to private sector investments and activities, and a lack of prioritisation for long-term adaptation planning because of competing issues such as disaster risk management. Poor access to good quality and appropriately presented data as well as a lack of public finance also limit the integration of short- and long-term planning.
    • Several options were identified for addressing these challenges including maintaining a long-term focus, and using champions to help popularise and communicate issues. There is also a need for citizen involvement in identifying and prioritising options, to both catalyse political action and ensure popular support for resultant climate-related regulations. Engaging the private sector in adaptation financing and strengthening the public sector, particularly in terms of interacting with the private sector, were also seen as key ways to resolve time mismatches.

    Group three discussed the role of national governments in supporting local level adaptation.
    • They highlighted varying political cycles at local and national levels, underfunding of adaptation, competing development priorities as well as gender issues and lack of access to data as the key challenges.
    • They identified examples of these challenges being addressed through a metropolitan climate change department established in Egypt, national support for ecosystem-based adaptation approaches in Brazil, a national funding pool for adaptation initiatives in Hungary and a platform developed by CARE that brings together data users and data providers to resolve data usability issues.

    Group four discussed city-to-city partnerships and networks for adaptation.
    • They identified a lack of south-south partnerships, insufficient human and financial capacity in local governments, and poor inter-departmental sharing of information as the key challenges to effective city-to-city partnerships.
    • They discussed several existing examples to learn from, including currently successful city networks, North-South partnerships and city-to-university partnerships. They also identified ways to enhance city-to-city partnership, such as developing toolboxes to support south-south partnerships, differentiating political and technical partnerships, and ensuring partnerships are needs-based. Working with indigenous and local peoples in the framework of city-to-city partnerships would also guarantee that traditional knowledge on natural resources conservation be taken into account.
  Response actions identified during the Focal Point Forum
UN-Habitat expressed interest in coordinating the drafting of supplementary guidance material to strengthen the consideration of human settlements in the national adaptation planning and implementation processes, in collaboration with the Least Developed Countries Expert Group (LEG) and partner organizations.

Additional collaborative actions that would need to be undertaken at the local level include:

  • Strengthening collaboration between local governments and private sector companies, including insurance companies;
  • Strengthening collaboration between local governments and universities or research centres so that data, information and knowledge on adaptation become useable by practitioners, decision-makers and community members;
  • Strengthening collaboration between local governments staff in charge of adaptation and that in charge of mitigation to ensure integrated planning;
  • Engaging all stakeholders, including marginalized populations and indigenous knowledge holders, in vulnerability assessment and participatory scenario planning.
Finally, both national governments and the international community were called upon to support the:
  • Strengthening of capacities among public sector staff as well as researchers, particularly in developing countries;
  • Facilitating the access of subnational governments and other relevant local actors to adaptation finance.

Further information on the event is available here.

Click here to view interviews with experts.