D&C Days 2019: five paths to a climate-resilient future

Article, 22 November 2019

The 2019 Development & Climate Days event at COP25 will explore the ambitious plans and transformational systems that are needed to deliver climate resilience for all. This page provides more information on each of the themes of the event, and the ways you can join and contribute to the conversation.

People walking down a flooded road

The 2019 Development & Climate Days (D&C Days), taking place on Sunday, 8 December 2019 in Madrid during the middle weekend of this year's UN climate change talks, will tackle big questions, seek effective and practical answers, and work together on fair solutions that leave no one behind.

Throughout the event, participants will consider how transformation of systems, gender equity, lived experience and local knowledge, and transparency and downward accountability can help deliver a resilient future.

D&C Days will carry forward conversations from the ‘Building a Resilient Future’ event held at the UN Climate Summit in September 2019, further developing the following five themes: 

  1. Building resilient food and agriculture systems
  2. Early warning, early action to leave no one behind
  3. Financing a resilient future
  4. Establishing resilient cities and infrastructure, and
  5. Working with nature to build resilience.

Below is more information on each of the themes and how participants can contribute and join the conversation. Click on the links above to go straight to a specific theme.


1. Building resilient food and agriculture systems

Transformative actions are urgently needed within the agriculture and food systems. From smallholders to large agri-food businesses, field to fork, actions must include the entire food value chain. This theme will explore how to build capacities, track progress and support more climate-resilient agriculture and food systems.

Climate variability and extremes are on the rise and and these events have already significantly damaged and pose an increasing risk to agricultural sectors, from fisheries to forestry, and with them the livelihoods of more than 2.5 billion smallholders. Meanwhile, the agri-food sector’s vast environmental footprint is being compounded by changing demographics and consumption patterns, vulnerability and conflict among many other issues.

Importantly, the most vulnerable are disproportionately affected by this: in 2018, over 124 million people in 51 countries faced crisis levels of hunger or worse.

But food and agriculture systems can also be an important part of the solution: they are our most tangible leverage points for addressing climate change and transitioning toward nutritious diets, equitable livelihoods and sustainable practices.

We need to enact system-wide transformation towards integrative, resilient and sustainable agri-food systems that can tackle climate challenges, improve public health, are inclusive of gender and age, maintain functional and restore degraded ecosystems, and deliver financial inclusion all along the value chains.

It is vital to act now and to catalyse actions at scale across and within sectors. Since COP24, the importance of food and agriculture has been recognised and they now feature prominently in national, regional and global discussions and many civil society organisations, grassroots federations, public and private organisations have committed to working on the issue. An increasing number of initiatives are seeking to build climate-resilient food and agriculture value chains.

At D&C Days, we challenge and invite you to picture the path to a more resilient future, using the agriculture and food sectors as a leverage point for climate action. We will:

  • Build a common understanding and narrative for climate-resilient agri-food systems based on the outcomes of key events, such as COP23, COP24, UNFCCC Regional Weeks in 2019, CBA13, Building a Resilient Future, the UN Climate Action Summit and others
  • Identify challenges and opportunities around implementing and tracking action and progress on building climate resilience in agri-food chains, including working across and within sectors and increasing innovation and finance, and 
  • Reflect on how actions on agri-food chains can be shaped to target those most affected by climate change, especially the least developed countries and small island developing states.

2. Early warning, early action to leave no one behind

Recognising that the poorest, most vulnerable people are also most at risk of being left behind by national efforts to adapt, this theme showcases how we can improve the financing, flexibility and effectiveness of early warning, early action systems.

The impacts of climate change weigh heaviest on poor and vulnerable populations; resource overuse and population growth threaten to further embed this injustice. But effective early-warning systems offer some hope: lives can be saved, and livelihoods strengthened in areas where people can access these systems, especially those embedded in inclusive governance frameworks.
 
Advances in science, technology and coordination allow us to predict and preempt extreme weather events and many countries have invested in early-warning, early-action systems. There is growing evidence that these systems can help save lives, protect assets and lower the costs of responding to the humanitarian consequences of climate shocks. 

With systems established, it is time for a critical yet solutions-oriented dialogue on early-warning systems and anticipatory action, asking how to scale these up in ways that benefit people living at the frontline of climate change. The needs of the most vulnerable people are finally finding space in international debates: the humanitarian dimension of climate change featured strongly in the UN Climate Action Summit among other key spaces. 

Since COP24, discussions have highlighted the need for investment in early warning systems to be balanced with support for long-term community resilience. The same balance should be struck between funding for early-warning technology and institutions, and that for early action to support local communities. We still need more information about how early action could work with urban contexts, vulnerable groups, health threats and collective assets.

At D&C Days, we are keen to hear how you think global awareness of improved early-warning, early-action systems can be translated into national action. And how we might bridge the humanitarian-climate-development divide. We will also focus on the concerns facing the most vulnerable people in national planning and budgeting, including Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), and how adaptation finance can better match their priorities. 


3. Financing a resilient future

Climate finance must reach the local level, where climate impacts are felt most acutely. With this goal, this theme asks how can we strengthen resilience, using effective finance mechanisms that respond to the needs and challenges of climate change impacts?

Finance is not flowing to those that need it most: only US$1 in every $10 of climate finance committed by funders is earmarked for delivering local level climate action. Climate finance is not tackling the drivers of vulnerability in communities facing chronic poverty, resource degradation and climate change. The quality of investment is inconsistent, with funding slowed and sapped by layers of intermediaries before reaching short-term projects with fleeting impact, rather than a lasting institutional legacy.

Action is needed for and by the whole of society – state, private sector and civil society – so that nobody is left behind. Support for the Paris Agreement and the UNFCCC Gender Action Plan (a gender-responsive approach to finance that supports investments that actively promote equality for women, men and people of non-binary genders) is especially necessary.

Since COP24, the Global Commission on Adaptation urgently called for governments and businesses to innovate and advance adaptation solutions, based on new research, while the EU revised investment regulations to enhance sustainable finance. Philanthropic investments in resilience increased after the UN Climate Summit, including a promise from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, World Bank and several governments of $790 million to enhance the climate resilience of 300 million small-scale food producers.

However, finance is still needed in greater quantity and quality to service urgent actions, while also making longer-term investments that enhance distributive and procedural justice, reconfiguring political relationships to produce more inclusive processes and more equitable outcomes. Specifically, climate finance must nudge development and private investment onto climate resilient pathways addressing adaptation and development deficits simultaneously, while promoting social inclusion and gender equality.

At D&C days, we look forward to working with you to:

  • Consider financing resilience from all angles and through the different institutions and mechanisms that can deliver resilience finance for the most vulnerable, working towards greater coordination and coherence for effectiveness in delivery
  • Understand what gender-responsive climate finance looks like and how to make it a reality
  • Clarify the role of innovation for supporting collaboration, institutional change and new business models to support climate resilient investments, and
  • Share successes and failures for increasing the volume and quality of finance for resilience from public and private sectors, as well as civil-led approaches.

4. Establishing resilient cities and infrastructure 

Join us to reimagine the climate-resilient cities of the future. We will explore local examples of resilient planning, innovative approaches for developing cities, and the potential of climate-resilient infrastructure; all of which we can take to city planners to promote risk-informed policy and establish resilient systems and infrastructure.

The world’s urban population is predicted to rise from 55% in 2019 to around 70% in 2050. But while urban areas attract people with economic, social and creative opportunities, the challenges mount: environmental degradation, pollution, entrenched multidimensional poverty, economic shocks and climate-related hazards. Policy responses that promote urban resilience are badly needed.

Resilient cities are those prepared to absorb and recover from shocks and stresses while maintaining their essential structures, functions and identity. They can adapt and ultimately thrive amid continual change. Citizens, policymakers and industry stakeholders are working towards this vision; but the push for resilient cities and infrastructure requires imagination and innovation, as well as recognition that even global problems need community-driven solutions.

While academics, practitioners and policymakers have long recognised the particular challenges of urban resilience, national governments often fail to focus on sub-national opportunities and struggle to deliver urban resilience as a result. Meanwhile, sub-national policymakers are fueled by their proximity to climate change impacts, becoming increasingly powerful, active actors in climate change debates.

Reflecting this trend, the UN Climate Action Summit unambiguously focused on cities and infrastructure and the Global Commission on Adaptation made cities central to their most recent report, ‘Adapt Now: A Global Call for Leadership on Climate Resilience’, identifying four key steps to to promoting urban inclusivity and resilience.

At D&C Days, we welcome your experience, evidence and learning to explore the challenges, successes and opportunities associated with cities and infrastructure in the face of climate change. Participants will work with local level policymakers, planners and activists to design cutting-edge solutions to urban challenges. Alongside debating and voting on proposed innovations, please pitch your own ideas!


5. Working with nature to build resilience

This theme explores the importance of working with nature to build a resilient future in areas including agriculture systems, cities and infrastructure networks. As support for and uptake of nature-based solutions in climate policy grows, we will look at the opportunities and challenges around scaling-up solutions based on lessons learnt on the ground.

A thriving natural environment is fundamental to human resilience, supporting food and agriculture, energy systems, infrastructure and cities. It is also central to reducing our vulnerability to disasters (PDF). As biodiversity declines sharply and ill thought out adaptation measures further damage ecosystems, working better with nature to build resilience is an urgent task.

Nature-based solutions (NbS) for climate change adaptation – encompassing ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) – offer a convincing way forward. These approaches protect and restore nature and sustainably use natural resources, supporting the healthy ecosystems we need to adapt to climate change. As well as helping societies adapt, providing mitigation, development and biodiversity benefits, NbS is often the most cost-effective (or only affordable) adaptation approach for developing countries.

Since COP24, global support for including NbS in climate change policy has grown, especially in developing nations; 66% of Paris Agreement signatories feature NbS in their NDCs (PDF). Germany, the UK and others have made economic commitments; in parallel, a number of developing countries have committed to scaling up NbS activity. A private sector initiative to protect and restore biodiversity and support NbS launched at the UN Climate Action Summit.

At D&C Days, we will create an engaging space to share evidence and experiences which highlight the links between ecosystems and human resilience. We will look at scientific evidence, best practices and lessons learned on how working with nature can build resilience and provide a wide range of benefits for people especially for the most vulnerable communities.We hope to inspire future collaborations that will scale up NbS actions for resilience and weave working with nature into the fabric of climate change action.

Background to D&C Days

Held each year alongside the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), D&C Days is developing as a strategic partnership platform, with the host partners aiming to influence the ‘ambition mechanism’ processes under the UNFCCC.

D&C Days started in 2002, and has since become a popular part of COP, providing an opportunity for researchers, practitioners and negotiators to meet informally for honest and open discussions on news, ideas and solutions on climate change and development.

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