UNU and ICLEI: Partners in Global Research

How can research support urban leaders adapting their cities to the consequences of climate change?

We know we must adapt to the consequences of climate change. We also have an idea in which sectors and how this can happen. Nevertheless, we are not making enough progress so far, despite a large number of publications and research outputs available. How do we bridge the gap between science and action? Where would city leaders like to see more support from research, policy and international advocacy? What are the most promising leverage points to solve the urban climate crisis?

Against this backdrop and in line with ICLEI’s Global Research Strategy, the United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS) and ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI) recently partnered to advance evidence-based research on sustainability, urban issues, and bridge this gap between knowledge sharing.

UNU-EHS and ICLEI: Scientific partners for Daring Cities

Through the lens of transdisciplinary exploration, UNU-EHS, a think tank of the United Nations, is serving as the main research partner for Daring Cities 2020. Three sessions have been designed by UNU-EHS and ICLEI to share cutting-edge research and best practices, inform on capacity development materials available and thereby strengthen the dialogue between researchers and city leaders. They focus on ways to reduce urban vulnerabilities from natural hazards and climate change, including holistic planning, introducing nature-based solutions, and establishing new stakeholder coalitions. This is based on the realization that sustainable change can only be achieved when social factors are taken into account and communities have an active role in the process.

United Nations University (UNU) is the academic arm of the United Nations and acts as a global think tank. The mission of the Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS) is to carry out cutting edge research on risks and adaptation related to environmental hazards and global change. The institute’s research promotes policies and programmes to reduce these risks, while taking into account the interplay between environmental and societal factors.

Research areas include climate change adaptation incorporating insurance-related approaches, environmentally induced migration and social vulnerability, ecosystem services and environmental deterioration processes, models and tools to analyze vulnerability and risks linked to natural hazards, with a focus on urban space and rural-urban interfaces. Research is always conducted with the underlying goal of connecting solutions to development pathways.

ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI) is a global network of more than 1,750 local and regional governments committed to sustainable urban development. ICLEI engages at the local to global levels, shaping policy and sparking action to transform urban environments worldwide. As a first-of-its-kind for city networks, ICLEI strengthens action at all levels, in support of sustainable urban development by linking subnational, national and global actors, policies, commitments and actions, and building connections across levels of government.

ICLEI’s Global Research Strategy stimulates the network to take root in the global research community in an effort to address the need for collaboration among research partners. Furthermore, this initiative has scaled up capacity building on the international level to ensure that ICLEI, as a network of local and regional governments and global experts, optimizes its impact on the importance of knowledge sharing.


If you would like to learn more about this partnership, please contact:


Simone Sandholz

Himanshu Shekhar

Nadine Hoffmann


Pourya Salehi