The Role of Cities in Climate Action put under the Spotlight at COP27 Side Event co-hosted by UNDP and CASS

November 15, 2022

UNDP China Resident Representative Beate Trankmann speaks at China Pavilion at the COP27 climate summit in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt

15 November, Sharm El-Sheikh – A side event focusing on climate action and cities’ progress in advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was successfully held today in the China Pavilion at the 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP 27) in the city of Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.

The event, co-hosted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), with support from the Research Center of Sustainable Development of CASS and the World Canal City Organization (WCCO), was one of the 25 formal sessions held in the China Pavilion, and the only one to focus exclusively on cities.

Themed “Climate Actions Support Cities’ SDG progress”, the side event aimed to examine the crucial role of cities in addressing climate change, identify the latest trends and global policies, discuss relevant progress and outcomes, and promote exchanges of best practices between cities around the world.

Cities are home to more than half of humanity. With high concentrations of infrastructure, housing, and economic activities, cities are pivotal for realizing the SDGs. Globally, they account for 60-80 percent of energy consumption and 75 percent of carbon emissions.  

“Understanding the progress, opportunities, and key issues that cities face in embarking on a sustainable development trajectory is a critical first step for stronger and more impactful policy making at the city level to advance climate action,” said Beate Trankmann, UNDP Resident Representative in China in her opening remarks. “This needs to also be accompanied by the necessary financial investments to support these objectives.”

The event brought together senior representatives from governments, international organizations, academia and the private sector both in China and abroad, providing a platform for multilateral dialogue and helping to expand the impact of lessons learned from individual cities’ globally. Representatives from cities including Yangzhou, Beijing, and Dubai shared their cities’ best practices and experiences in low-carbon transition and accelerating SDG progress.

“UNDP works in 170 developing countries around the world on the short-term and long-term challenges of sustainability and low carbon development,” said Mr. George Gray Molina, Head of Strategic Policy Engagement and Chief Economist, UNDP. “We know the task is made more difficult by successive waves of crises, but we will not stop working to achieve the highest level of human development within planetary boundaries.”

This year UNDP worked with the city of Yangzhou to release the Canal City Implementation of 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development - Yangzhou Sustainable Development Report (2021). The report looks at Yangzhou’s low-carbon development and progress in advancing the SDGs and includes replicable experience and practices for other canal cities.

Side events as such are a vital component of the ongoing global COP27 climate summit, which will conclude on 18 November to seek consensus on urgently shifting from making pledges to implementation at scale, providing opportunities for stakeholders to disseminate information, discuss policies and legitimize global governance is critical to delivering on the Paris Agreement.

“Cities are the one of the battlefronts for climate action,” said Zhang Chaoyang, Deputy Head of the Chinese delegation to COP 27 and Minister Counsellor of the Chinese Embassy to Egypt. “China is committed to enhancing the climate resilience of cities' infrastructure, formulating action plans for cities to respond to climate change, and piloting sponge cities and climate-resilient cities.”

"We have 8 billion people on earth and some 5 billion people in cities,” remarked Pan Jiahua, member of Academic Board of CASS, director of Research Center of Sustainable Development of CASS, and member of UNSG’s GSDR 2023 Independent Group of Scientists. “Cities are the most vulnerable places that are under increasing threat from climate change, experiencing climate events like heatwaves, flooding and water shortages."

The event concluded with a Q&A session that engaged the audience in the discussion with various parties on key issues of climate action.





Ms. Zhao Yue, Innovation and Communications Officer, UNDP China at