World leaders are trying to agree on global challenges during the COP24 climate conference in the Polish city of Katowice. But besides making plans, plans must also be implemented. This is starting to happen at the international level. Climate and water resilient cities were leading themes in Katowice, concludes NWP’s Edyta Wisniewska in her blog from her native soil.
"As Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte made perfectly clear at the opening of the COP24 on 3 December, "The urgency of fighting and adapting to climate change has in no way diminished. And neither has the undeniable fact that climate change affects us all." Prime Minister Rutte launched the Dutch Fund for Climate and Development (DFCD), a special EUR 160 million fund for climate and development to help developing countries become more resilient. During the high level Global Commission on Adaptation (GCA) event in Katowice, the Dutch Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management and GCA Commissioner Cora van Nieuwenhuizen stressed the fact that raising awareness is key for accelerating action and support for climate adaptation."
"Climate adaptation is of the utmost importance, especially in urban areas. More people live in cities nowadays than in rural areas. The concentration of people and assets means that the impact of natural disasters and a changing climate on society and the economy can be devastating. While national leaders often struggle with protracted negotiations, city leaders have started working on concrete projects."
"So in Katowice there was every reason to hold the dedicated Urban Day, co-organised by the Netherlands Water Partnership (NWP), on 8 December. It featured high level speakers including Elena Visnar-Malinovska (European Commission), Diane d’Arras (International Water Association), Barney Dickson (Global Center on Adaptation) and Torgny Holmgren (Stockholm International Water Institute). From the Dutch side, contributions were made by Henk Ovink, Special Envoy for International Water Affairs, and Menno Holterman, chairman of the Amsterdam International Water Week (AIWW)."
"Urban Day showed the widely shared belief that cities should share more knowledge and experience with each other. IWA President Diane d’Arras underlined the importance of supporting cities to achieve water related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Climate agreements more quickly. This could be done through sharing a common language that strengthens City to City learning and implementing projects with multiple stakeholders."
"Luckily this is not only necessary, but it is actually happening. The best example, here in Poland, is the 44MPA project that aims to develop urban adaptation plans for 44 cities in Poland with more than 100,000 inhabitants. 44MPA identifies the water sector as key in successfully implementing climate adaptation measures. The project is recognised by the EU as exceptional because of its replicable, scalable and adaptive methodology. It will enter the implementation phase in all 44 cities in 2019. This is highly impressive and the project rightly got a lot of attention in Katowice. 44MPA involved a strong Dutch component. The Dutch design and consultancy firm Arcadis is part of a consortium that won the tender for this big project. All the partners involved are underlining the necessity of involving businesses, knowledge institutions, NGOs, national, regional and local level authorities, as well as international cooperation as fundamental to achieving resilient urban transition."
"A second example of a project with an important Dutch component is the River Warta development project in the city of Poznan. Follow-up discussions on funding were held this week. Several financial institutions are involved and it is looking good. NWP has put much effort in this project in recent years on behalf of the Dutch Government’s Partners for Water Programme and the Dutch consortium partners."
"Further, Polish and Dutch organisations started to collaborate on developing holistic concrete actions for ‘climate adaptive cities’ as a first step towards a European Urban Water Partnership. The city leaders of Wroclaw, Breda and Zwolle expressed this in a Letter of Intent, signed during Urban Day. A key element in the cooperation is ‘learning by doing’ under the motto: ‘cities for climate changing together now!’
Speaking of sharing, I found it striking how many companies are present in Katowice. We had called on the private sector during the AIWW Summit on 15 November in Rotterdam. The involvement of the private sector is key, and a concerted effort and combining all available resources is a must!"
"COP24 proved that true progress has been made, especially when it comes to urban climate adaptation. A strong foundation with concrete plans has been laid and implementation is now within reach. We can really get started in 2019. I am counting on the fact that in eleven months’ time, during the Amsterdam International Water Week - starting 4 November - we will conclude that we have taken big steps."