With the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, Habitat III, currently taking place in Quito, Ecuador (17 – 20 October 2016), urban actors and stakeholders at all levels are preparing to adopt the New Urban Agenda – an action-oriented document setting global standards to address the challenges of urbanisation and city-building.
Leading up to Habitat III, the global debates on climate change have revolved around topics related to global urbanization. Feeding into this debate, last week's global citizen-led forum, Low Carbon City Forum in Medellin, convened voices from around the world in efforts to better understand the role that cities can play in the fight against climate change. "The ongoing discussion in Quito is a timely one - challenges brought by rapid urbanisation will only accelerate. Sustainable urban growth is already becoming a top priority for leaders around the world," says Martin Stadelmann, Practice Leader, Green Finance & Cities, South Pole Group. "The recent Low Carbon City Forum's has provided valuable insights on the way we build and manage low-carbon cities, as well as the innovative tools we have at our fingertips to access much-needed climate finance for urban projects."
At South Pole Group's side event, "Low Carbon City Lab – Innovative Finance", co-organized with Climate-KIC at the Low Carbon City Forum, around 40 Latin American city actors and investors came to hear about the Low Carbon City Lab and ways in which cities can already leverage and access new innovative finance tools. The City of Santiago de Cali discovered the means to apply a result-based finance approach to make its Bus Rapid Transport systems under the Green Corridor project in Cali financially viable, and Colombian cities and investors showed particular interest in South Pole Group's and Climate Bonds Initiative's joint work on the rapidly growing green bond markets.
Scaling up climate finance for cities was another pertinent theme throughout the event in Medellin, with the the keynote panel on "Financing for low carbon cities", headed by Martin Stadelmann, attracting as many as 200 participants. The panel focused on topics such as the importance project preparation has for making cities projects bankable, and why low-cost finance and increased revenues are key tools in scaling up climate finance.
By fostering multi-stakeholder engagement around the challenges of urbanisation, the Low Carbon City forum served to open the discussion around the important issues that will feature at the talks at Habitat III. As Martin Stadelmann concludes: "Poverty, inequality, development and climate change – they all hinge upon cities' abilities to find ways to ensure the sustainability of growth. Through employing innovative finance tools, and through realising the opportunities presented by climate finance, global leaders will be better equipped to follow up on the eventual implementation of the New Urban Agenda debated at Habitat III."