The Innovate4Cities Conference will be an international gathering at the nexus of cities, climate change science and innovation. This groundbreaking meeting will be co-hosted by UN-Habitat and the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy (GCoM). It will bring together over 1,000 city leaders, scientists, researchers, innovators, academics, youth and business people to advance pragmatic and action oriented research and science that will help cities reduce their carbon footprint and increase resilience to climate change.
The conference program is built around the core themes of the Global Research and Action Agenda on Cities and Climate Change Science (GRAA) developed in Edmonton in 2018. There have been many developments in the urban sustainability agenda since Edmonton, in particular COVID-19 has transformed cities, widening existing inequalities, plunged new actors into financial hardship and exposed new vulnerabilities. When we rebuild cities in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic we must ensure that the green recovery is inclusive and provides co-benefits, such as improving health outcomes, promoting economic development, delivering jobs and addressing gender and racial inequities. In light of these developments, Justice & Equity, Health & Wellbeing and Digitalisation/Smart Cities have been added as cross-cutting themes for the conference and will be actively considered in the GRAA review process that will take place before, during and after the conference.
Built and Blue/Green Infrastructure:
Infrastructure is essential for providing critical urban services and building resilience against climate change. However, it is paramount that growth in infrastructure, particularly in the global South, does not result in a carbon lock-in as this will ultimately hinder cities’ ability to mitigate emissions. Innovation in low-carbon infrastructure options and nature-based solutions are thus central to the sustainable development agenda, particularly given the range of co-benefits provided in relation to health, well-being, biodiversity, and enhanced urban amenity.
Topic ideas: low-carbon construction techniques, affordable low-carbon building materials, carbon storage in infrastructure, clean transport, energy transitions, bioclimatic designed infrastructure, nature-based solutions.
Sustainable Consumption & Production:
In terms of unsustainable resource consumption, cities are at the heart of the problem, consuming 75% of the world’s resources and producing 50% of global waste (Ellen MacArthur Foundation). However, cities as centres of economic, social and cultural exchange, are well-positioned to tackle these problems. Innovation is needed in this domain in order to accelerate cleaner production, improve the circularity of material flows and encourage the diffusion of low-carbon materially sufficient lifestyles.
Topic ideas: Circular economy, urban metabolism, Waste management and closed loop food systems, Industrial symbiosis, Sustainable and resilient logistic systems, Sharing economy, Sustainable lifestyle.