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On March 5-7, the City of Edmonton will host the first-of-its-kind CitiesIPCC Cities and Climate Change Science Conference, where scientists, policymakers, researchers, and development experts will gather to advance global understanding of climate change, its impacts on cities, and the critical role localities play in solving this challenge. The conference will be marked by the establishment of a global research agenda, which will support a new special report on climate change and cities prepared by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The agenda will also create a blueprint for new scientific research supporting effective climate action strategies in cities around the world.

Co-sponsored by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the conference will assess the current state of academic and practice-based understanding of cities and climate change, identifying key knowledge gaps to inspire new research in this area. By forging stronger partnerships among the more than 750 leaders, innovators, and influencers attending, the conference will lay a solid foundation for increased global collaboration on scientific research, funding, and knowledge-sharing.

“Climate change is a uniquely global challenge; it doesn’t discriminate based on geography, and so we see its effects in every corner of the world,” said IPCC Co-Chair Dr. Debra Roberts. “Our response must also be global, uniting people across cities, countries and continents. That enables us to share best practices based in sound science to meet global commitments that will create a more sustainable and just urban world for future generations.”

More than half of the world’s population lives in urban areas, and as centres of both high population density and economic activity, cities around the world are highly vulnerable to the most dangerous and damaging impacts of climate change. For these same reasons, however, cities are fighting back, as the scale of ongoing urban expansion creates more impetus for meaningful cooperation and the ability to pursue more ambitious climate adaptation and mitigation strategies. The conference will highlight the crucial role that cities are currently playing and will continue to play in the fight to stop global climate change.

“Cities are already leading the charge to combat climate change and Edmonton is proud to stand side by side with the other cities around the world taking courageous action,” said Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson. “With the majority of the world’s population living in urban centres, we need to strive to make cities even healthier and more sustainable to live in and tackling climate change is part of the solution. Edmonton is thrilled to host this conference and be part of an exciting opportunity to work together with the scientific community and develop innovative solutions that will transform our cities for the better.”

In recent years, the United Nations has championed global cooperation and ambitious programs such as the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals to tackle some of the world’s most pressing problems. As it does so, the important role of rigorous, peer-reviewed science as a foundation for planning and implementation has come into sharp focus. In their work to meet these commitments, cities have become incubators of innovative, science-based solutions to global climate change.

“Cutting-edge scientific research is essential to solving global climate change, and cities are where that science gets translated into action oriented policy,” said Seth Schultz, C40 Cities’ Director of Science and Innovation and Co-Chair of the Scientific Steering Committee overseeing the conference. “Though rapid urbanization continues to exacerbate the effects of climate change, cities also represent an opportunity that will allow us to tackle climate change at a transformational scale. An ambitious global research agenda on cities and climate science is a critical step in ensuring that we generate knowledge at the speed and scale with which cities need to take action while simultaneously making our cities better places to live.”

The three-day conference, organized by a Scientific Steering Committee made up of engineering, science, humanities, and urban development experts, will focus on four major themes:

  • Cities and Climate Change – Global commitments like the Paris Agreement, Sustainable Development goals, New Urban Agenda, and Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction require cities to implement new sustainable development plans to adapt and respond to climate change. This theme will explore gaps in knowledge of climate mitigation and adaptation in the context of meeting these global commitments, including the costs of climate action/inaction, equity and justice issues related to climate change, and the imperative for actions resulting in low-carbon, climate-resilient, sustainable development.
  • Urban Emissions, Impacts, and Vulnerabilities – Cities are some of the largest contributors to global greenhouse gas emissions, and as such, experience some of the worst effects of climate change. This theme will explore current and future urban emission drivers, urban climate impacts, and climate risks and vulnerabilities to provide science-based pathways for cities to pursue emissions reductions and resilience strategies.
  • Solutions for the Transition to Low Carbon and Climate Resilient Cities –  With the advent of advanced technological and scientific solutions to climate change, this session will explore the transformative nature of cutting-edge sustainable development strategies. The theme will include discussions about disruptive technology, urban infrastructure and design, and institutional innovation.
  • Enabling Transformative Climate Action in Cities – City climate action takes place in the context of diverse social, environmental, economic, and developmental realities. This theme will explore new and existing avenues for enabling climate action that addresses poverty and inequality, re-shapes power relations, and re-conceptualizes our vision of what cities are, could be, and should be.

In addition to the IPCC, the other CitiesIPCC partner organizations providing practical support to the Cities and Climate Change Science conference are C40 Cities, Cities Alliance, Future Earth, ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment ), UN-Habitat, and World Climate Research Program (WCRP).


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