On the final thematic day of COP27, the Egypt Presidency unveiled four initiatives focused on finding solutions. The initiatives presented seek to offer complementary routes to strengthen global climate action and guarantee that nations can fulfil their NDCs and achieve the objectives of the Paris Agreement. A number of sessions earlier in the day focused on urbanisation and climate change, emphasising the importance of including cities all over the world in climate solutions in order to speed up multi-level action and stronger leadership to accomplish the global goal of 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2030. To achieve this, the COP27 Presidency organised the first-ever Ministerial Meeting on Urbanization and Climate Change at a UN Climate Change Conference of Parties with the assistance of UN-Habitat (COP). The Ministerial Meeting focused on housing, urban development, and multi-level action in relation to climate change, and it reaffirmed the Paris Agreement's commitment to expedited climate change reduction, adaptation action, and local climate finance.[i]
Climate change is very pronounced in urban areas. Urbanisation growth and climate change are related megatrends. Extreme weather conditions like storms, heat waves, droughts, and flash floods have all been brought on by rising global temperatures. Urban services, housing, infrastructure, livelihoods, urban ecosystems, cultural practices, and the health and well-being of city dwellers are all impacted by these. The most vulnerable are severely harmed by these effects, which are made worse by rising food and energy prices. Today, over three billion people reside in climate change hotspots, and over one billion urban residents reside in unofficial settlements. The Sustainable Urban Resilience for the next Generation (SURGe) Initiative is being developed by the COP27 Presidency, UN-Habitat, and ICLEI to address these issues comprehensively. The Buildings and Housing, Urban Energy, Urban Waste and Consumption, Urban Mobility, and Urban Water tracks of this Initiative, which has ten guiding principles, aim to enhance and accelerate local and urban climate action through multi-level governance, engagement, and delivery. It is aimed at helping to achieve the Paris Climate and Sustainable Development Goals. It expands upon prior work in this area, helps to achieve pledges made by local and regional governments, gives current projects more momentum, and offers a comprehensive framework for achieving sustainable and resilient urban systems.[ii]
Maimunah Mohd Sharif, Executive Director of UN-Habitat, commented on the initiative:
“Cities are engines of climate action and at the forefront of delivering solutions. The SURGe Initiative promises to enhance and accelerate local and urban climate action through multi-level governance, engagement and delivery. We need to transform cities to be healthy, sustainable, just, inclusive, low-emission and resilient urban systems for a better urban future for all.”[iii]
The "Friends of Greening National Investment Plans in Africa and Developing Countries" project was introduced by the Egyptian Minister of Planning and Economic Development, Hala El-Said, on Thursday at COP 27. According to El-Said, the primary tenet of the programme is creating a method for formulating economic plans that account for climate change. Additionally, the evaluation of the work done in the fields of mitigation and adaptation would be adapted to be more suited to climate goals. El-Said continued by saying that the initiative's proponents have voluntarily agreed to work to increase the proportion of green projects in their national investment plans by at least 30% in 2030 while tracking and monitoring public investments made to combat climate change and identifying gaps and necessary support.[iv]
All countries, particularly those in the Global South, place a strong focus on sustainable low-carbon transportation. Governments at all levels are attempting to create transportation systems that increase access, equity, and prosperity, promote health and well-being, and lessen the harmful environmental effects of transportation emissions. Cities, where more than 50% of the world's population resides, are responsible for 70% of all emissions. A third of all emissions in cities is caused by transportation. Enhancing urban mobility is a key strategy for achieving the goals mentioned above as urbanisation in the Global South picks up speed.[v] The action areas of the initiative are outlined below.
Kamel al-Wazir, Egyptian Minister for Transport, said:
“Developing nations are growing rapidly. Our initiatives need to acknowledge the challenges of the Global South. The LOTUS initiative will enhance green, fair and resilient means of transportation.”[vi]
Improving public transport is a key aspect that will positively affect business transition to net zero as commuting behaviours have a notable contribution to emissions.
The fact that waste is the third largest human-made source of greenhouse gas emissions has prompted Egypt to unveil its 50 by 2050 Global Waste Initiative. At a press conference convened at COP27 to present civil society’s viewpoint on the Egyptian government’s goals concerning sustainable waste, the COP27 host made the commitment. GAIA, the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, and Friends of the Earth Nigeria were the organisers of the press conference.
Niven Reddy, regional co-ordinator for GAIA Africa, said:
“the 50 by 2050 initiative provides us with an opportunity to scale zero waste systems for climate action in Africa and around the globe”.
“However, this initiative can only be effective if it includes organic waste management, inclusion and recognition of waste pickers, and phase out of residual waste and fundamentally moving away from incineration and other climate-polluting waste management practices that aren’t meant for Africa.”[vii]
[i] COP27- Focus on Solutions Concludes COP27’s Thematic Days Program
[ii] UN- Sustainable Urban Resilience for the next generation
[iii] SURGe- COP27 Presidency Launches Sustainable Urban Resilience for the Next Generation (SURGe) as Integrated, Holistic, Multilevel Initiative to Accelerate Climate Action
[iv] Egypt Today- Egypt launches 'Friends of Greening National Investment Plans in Africa and Developing Countries Initiative' at COP 27
[v] COP27- Low Carbon Transport for Urban Sustainability (LᶜO₂TUS)
[vi] Advancing public transport- Key role for public transport in climate conference initiatives
[vii] IOL- Egypt’s 50 by 2050 initiative highlights urgent need to address the role of waste in contributing to pollution