Our cities are where the battle against climate change has to be fought. We are already dealing with the effects of climate change, and over ninety percent of all major urban centres are coastal, putting them at risk from flooding due to rising sea levels and extreme weather incidents. Mitigating harmful greenhouse gas emissions involved a myriad of sectors, including energy, transport, industry, and waste. In addition, we also need to build resilience against the impacts of this changing world. Our cities need to invest in low carbon growth, promoting development through the use of data and technology, while ensuring adequate governance frameworks to protect natural infrastructure.


  • Advancing Climate Action in States and Cities

Climate change requires action from the international arena to the local scale. Mitigating greenhouse gas emissions involves a range of sectors – like energy, transport, industry, and waste. Adapting to climate impacts is inextricably linked with poverty reduction and development goals – across sectors like agriculture, water, health, education, energy, and sanitation.

States and cities in India are already taking steps to measure their greenhouse gas emissions, mainstream adaptation into development, and implement climate action across sectors and scales. As state governments embark on the process of revising their State Action Plans on Climate Change (SAPCCs), sharing experiences and learning about the right kind of data, tools, methods, and case studies can help them advance climate action and contribute to India’s nationally determined contribution (NDC) goals.

This session will focus on:

How can data be collected and used more effectively to plan sub-national climate action?

How can action by states and cities contribute to India’s NDC goals?

What are the development benefits of climate action on jobs, health, air, and water?

How can adaptation be effectively integrated into development programmes?

What are the key gaps in governance and institutional capacity at the sub-national scale and how can these be overcome?

What best practices, pilots, and case studies can Indian states and cities learn from each other and from other countries?

  • Adaptation and Cities

This session focuses on bringing experts and thought leaders to deliberate and discuss over the challenges and opportunities of prioritizing climate adaptation in the context of cities on the premises of launch of a FlagShip report to be released at the UN Climate Summit in September 2019; also extending support in the process of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The Global Commission on Adaptation launched in October 2018 is comprised of global representatives and commissioners that will oversee the development of the report. The report will comprise of papers on the seven identified themes, one of which is Cities. The focus is on a vision for scaling transformative adaptation solutions and prioritizing adaptation from local to global level. The session will serve as platform to garner feedback on the paper on Cities and reflect on its strategic importance for policy makers, academics, practitioners, and local champions.

  • Inclusion and Equity in the Transition to Zero Carbon Buildings in India

How will Indian cities prepare for national and global calls for action on carbon neutral buildings, low emissions free transportation systems, reduced water consumption and efficient resource use? Some Indian cities have recognized the benefits of sustainability and are changing the ways in which they plan, build and retrofit and incentivize low carbon technologies. However, policies, schemes, financing, incentives and awareness about low C technologies for buildings sector continue to target high income consumers. A recent WRI report described the adoption of rooftop solar only by the very rich. Information on energy efficient appliances (barring LEDs) and their adoption has not touched low income groups. How can low C technologies in the built environment, contributing eventually to carbon neutral buildings, enter poor and low-income homes? Can the transition be an opportunity to build resilience of poor and vulnerable communities?

Then there is the issue of costs associated with the transition to low carbon or zero carbon buildings which can be better absorbed by some households and businesses than poor vulnerable communities. Cities must engage vulnerable communities in the dialogue on sustainable buildings, protecting them from the ‘’burden’’ of the transition and making them the beneficiaries.

Taking the case of carbon neutral/zero carbon buildings, the panel will deliberate, the role of all stakeholders in rising up to the challenge of restructuring, reorganizing and rethinking ways in which we build, ensuring that the transition benefits all and doesn’t adversely impact the poor and vulnerable communities.

  • Electric Mobility Forum

India is currently the fourth largest emitter of greenhouse gases (GHG) in the world and the transport sector accounts for 13 percent of India’s energy related CO2 emissions. In addition, transport is also a major contributor to air pollution in urban areas. This is a serious issue for Indian cities, and at present, India has 15 of the most polluted cities in the world. If commutes are cleaner, it will reduce GHG emissions and air pollution. It will also improve public health, as commute accounts for a significant proportion for exposure to pollutants than any other activity. There is a growing belief that electric vehicles (EVs) offer a solution. India has made some bold commitments for growing EVs but getting to these targets will require a serious push from all stakeholders.

There is a lot of discussion going on around the country regarding the fuel transition in India. However, much more needs to be done on the ground to make this dream a reality and make this transition smooth. India has its own needs and challenges when it comes to the acceptance and penetration of EVs. Therefore, it is important that India makes its own creative solutions that are scalable, adoptable, replicable, and feasible. The Electric Mobility Forum will facilitate a platform to bring various stakeholders together so that the country can electrify and decarbonize its transport.

  • Inspiring, Enabling and Mobilising a Cities4Forests Initiative in India

In India, the current proportion of urban population is 31 percent and it is projected to double in the next 25 to 30 years. Past experience has shown that unplanned urban expansion leads to unsustainable production and consumption patterns and overexploitation of natural resources in and around urban areas.

Achieving the SDG targets require supporting a landscape approach to restoration that can inspire, enable, mobilise a restoration movement in the urban and peri urban areas for its, inner, nearby and faraway forests, with careful attention to the underpinning enabling conditions, as sustainability of interventions is contingent on it. Achieving these targets is crucial, as forest and tree cover provide multiple regulatory, cultural and provisioning services for cities and its population. World Resources Institute (WRI) recently launched Cities4Forests, a new voluntary coalition of 52 cities involving mayors’ offices— and supported by other subnational agencies such as public water utilities and offices of sustainability— from around the world. Cities4Forests seeks to catalyse political, social, and economic support among city governments and urban residents to integrate forests into city development plans and programs. Globally, there are currently 52 cities members’ of Cities4Forests, including Kochi, in India. As India develops its strategies to fulfil its SDGs and NDC commitments, as well as domestic environmental and development goals, Cities4Forest alliance provides an opportunity to protect, maintain, and increase forest and tree cover in peri-urban and urban areas to inspire a movement around restoration for inner, nearby and faraway forests.

This session would discuss:

The challenges and opportunities, that urban and peri-urban areas are facing in India which is a barrier to developing a strong bond between forests and its population for inner, nearby and faraway forests.

The knowledge gaps that are barrier for cities to prioritize and integrate principles of protecting and increasing forest and tree cover in planning for sustainable urban development.

The current institutional framework of urban governance and development and opportunities to synergise urban and rural development using a landscape approach.

Innovative participatory approaches, that could catalyse a movement on protecting and increasing forest and tree cover in urban and peri-urban areas.

  • Air Pollution

The session on Air Pollution will be divided into two parts. The first part of the session will focus on “Operational air quality analytics”. Session will have mix of representatives from public sector and impact investors.

The second session will focus on discussions around launching of large-scale chemical monitoring and expand data initiatives for awareness building to contribute to science of analytics with representation from others working in the field.