thomas richter cop24 mistra urban futures

The most important meeting ever

What possibly could be the most important meeting ever held just started in Katowice, Poland. It is the 24th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), commonly known as COP24.

Over the next two weeks, world leaders must agree on the HOW of the Paris agreement three years ago. Guidelines on adaptation, reduced emissions, funding, technology and capacity-building is on the agenda, with the aim to have the guidelines completed by the end of the conference.

Other reports, e.g. from the World Bank and the IPCC special report 'Global Warming of 1.5°C' discuss the enormous investments needed over the next few years and decades. The amounts may differ, but the key message is the same: we are talking about trillions of dollars, many trillions. A New Climate Economy report indicates a need for investments in infrastructure until 2030 of around USD 90 trillion.

Although such amounts call for mobilisation of public and private funding, investors around the globe are prepared and probably waiting; there are no signs saying it can’t be done – at least not from a financial point of view.

But one of the many challenges ahead is the actual organisation; how to get it all going with so many different actors – governments, business, international finance, civil society organisations, cities and universities. And as time is running, this really needs to be as efficient and effective as possible.

This is where research and knowledge centres like Mistra Urban Futures come into the picture.

The Local Interaction Platform model of formal institutional partnerships among key stakeholders, including universities, local authorities, NGOs and sometime private firms, that has been developed and used in Gothenburg, Sheffield and Greater Manchester, Kisumu and Cape Town, seems to be useful. Some of the experiences were recently published in an article by Beth Perry (Sheffield/Manchester), Zarina Patel (Cape Town) and Merritt Polk and Ylva Norén Bretzer (Gothenburg). The article, 'Organising for Co-production: Local Interaction Platforms for Urban Sustainability', is published in Politics and Governance, an Open Access journal.

Another recent publication analyses the promising experiences of localising global initiatives such as the Sustainable Development Goals, through the Mistra Urban Futures approach of transdisciplinary co-production and comparative research. The article, 'The Challenges of Transdisciplinary Co-production: From Unilocal to Comparative Research' is published in a special issue of Environment & Urbanization with open access.

These experiences and insights of what really creates change and action should be valuable in this context. Not least the capacity-building outcome of co-production processes are crucial for the transition to more sustainable paths for cites, as well as for regions and countries.  






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