By Natalia Uribe, Secretary General of Regions4 Sustainable Development
The ongoing 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) is said to be “the world’s best last chance” for climate action and there are high expectations for the Parties to raise to the occasion. The latest IPCC report (August 2021) concluded that we live in the era of human-induced climate change and, COP26 President, Alok Sharma, addressed the World Leaders Summit by reminding that “the science is clear that the window of time we have to keep the goal of 1.5 degrees Celsius alive and to avoid the worst effects of climate change is closing fast”.
As the impacts of climate change become more severe and affect the most vulnerable populations, Regions4, the global voice of regional governments for sustainable development, together with the Local Governments and Municipal Authorities Constituency and other partners, is part of the non-state actors’ call for ambitious mitigation and resilience action. We must reach the climate neutrality and meet the 1.5ºC targets of the Paris Agreement by 2030 to be able to achieve a net-zero resilient world by mid-century.
In the past five years, we, Regions4, have been strongly advocating for increased attention to adaptation and leading by example. Adaptation is no longer a choice, and neither should be multi-level collaboration at all levels of government.
Regional governments as the natural leaders to accelerate and deliver climate resilient actions, are spearheading some of the necessary transformations, while integrating agendas and developing innovative scalable solutions to transition towards resilient economies and territories.
With our flagship initiative, RegionsAdapt, we witness a growing community of 76 regional governments worldwide representing over 300 million people, who are developing cutting-edge solutions to build the resilience to climate shocks and increase the adaptative capacity of the local communities, thanks to strong partnerships and participatory processes with multisectoral stakeholders. They are working on food security and sustainable agriculture; water availability and regulation; restoration of coastal areas and protection of ecosystems; integration of the urban and rural realities; or renewable energy models, among many others.
These lessons learnt and good practices from 5 years of experience will be presented at Regions4’s high-level event at COP26, as we hope to inspire the negotiations for the adoption of ambitious NDCs and effective national adaptation plans. These lessons will also be part of the Race to Resilience as our global community of regional governments grow and contribute to building the resilience of 4 billion people of vulnerable communities to climate change by 2030.
So, what can we achieve at COP26?
This is an opportunity to make history for climate action and join forces for all the subnational voices to be heard, for each and every single non-state action to be recognised.
We must learn from the experience of the UN’s Convention on Biological Diversity and its participation platforms, such as the Advisory Committee on Subnational Governments and Biodiversity, as well as mechanisms such as a comprehensive action plan for engaging all levels of government.
The brief report that Regions4 will launch at COP26, shows that, by increasing solutions oriented collaboration among national and regional governments, and mobilising climate finance to reach subnational governments, especially in developing countries, we will not only enable more and better planning, but we will also better measure, report, and ensure transparency and effectiveness to reduce vulnerability and climate risks.
In addition, by integrating climate adaptation into other global agendas and sectoral policies, such as those aimed at halting biodiversity loss, we will improve the conditions of the most vulnerable communities and ecosystems, and we will drive coherent and effective climate action.
We want this to COP be truly multi-level and inclusive, as we are in this together. COP26 is the opportunity to drive systems change through the leadership of subnational governments and collaboration across governance levels, from local to national.
Regional governments will continue to raise their voice at COP26 supporting a collective message to Parties:
“Multilevel and collaborative climate action should be the new normal in every community in the era of the Paris Agreement.”
To learn about Regions4 key activities at COP26 and join our efforts, click here.