The Context: Heading into Daring Cities 2021

The first edition of the Daring Cities Forum, convened virtually in September 2020, created a significant awareness on the importance of urban leaders taking on the climate emergency while facing the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since Daring Cities 2020, the responses to the COVID-19 pandemic have followed diverse pathways and paces. This is due to regional and national inequalities in access to vaccines, limited emergency management capacities, as well as difficulties in introducing transformative policy responses at scale.

At the same time, the scale, coverage and diversity of extreme weather events proliferated worldwide, also during 2020. The IPCC scientists, activists and political leaders alike increasingly call to elevate response measures to a much broader scale and duration, and to employ a crisis mindset to avoid surpassing global tipping points.

The experiences of communities, leaders, and institutions in responding to the challenges and opportunities of a global health emergency arguably might be considered as valuable assets to respond to the global climate emergency at various levels of government.

The number of local and regional governments declaring a climate emergency has, by now, exceeded 2000. Hundreds of cities and regions have committed to join global efforts on climate neutrality, climate resilience, sustainable mobility, circular economy, harmony with nature, the localization of the sustainable development goals, and inclusive policies addressing urban poor, as well as questions of social and environmental justice and migration.

For some of these efforts, cities and regions are committing to ambitious intermediary targets to facilitate the achievement of their own long-term objectives.

Numerous national governments have increased their Nationally Determined Contributions to the Paris Climate Agreement, and released comprehensive national plans to successfully implement the Sustainable Development Goals, with an increasing trend to leverage synergies through multilevel and collaborative partnerships.

On the intergovernmental level, the negotiations on global frameworks on climate and biodiversity saw limited or no progress due to pandemic-induced delays and postponements. As the international community prepares for the crucial upcoming summits in Glasgow and Kunming, local and regional leaders continue their efforts on climate action and biodiversity preservation in their jurisdictions whilst simultaneously tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.

Daring Cities 2021 aims to accelerate responses to the climate emergency by building on the momentum and experiences gained over the past 12 months.

The forum is conceived as a platform to inform local, subnational and national efforts, as well as global processes by strengthening partnerships, building capacity and enhancing knowledge exchange.

The outcomes of these exchanges will feed into advocacy efforts at UNFCCC COP26 in Glasgow in November 2021, as well as further crucial gatherings throughout the Urban October.