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Daring Cities 2020: Top 5 most popular thematic sessions

A first-of-its kind virtual event, Daring Cities 2020 positioned itself as the global forum for urban leaders taking action on the climate emergency. With 100 sessions and more than 200 hours of online discussions designed with urban leaders in mind, the event unfolded over the span of three weeks.

The four plenary days at the heart of Daring Cities included a special addresses from the United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, in the Daring Cities opening, a special three part session in collaboration with TED, the launch of the Redesign2020 Platform, the launch of the UNDRR Making Cities Resilient 2030 campaign and a look forward to the future with remarks by high level speakers

In addition to these core plenary sessions, Daring Cities’ sessions covered topics from nature-based solutions and innovative climate finance, to urban resilience and social equity. Hundreds of city leaders, practitioners, researchers, and experts shared their insights and experiences on how to take radical action in our cities, towns and regions to tackle the climate emergency, especially in light of the current Covid-19 pandemic.

Of those rich thematic offerings, here are the five most popular sessions of Daring Cities 2020. All session recordings are available on the website and are free for anyone with a Daring Cities 2020 profile.  

Renewable Energy in Cities: Opportunities for Green Growth through Recovery Packages

Energy systems are the backbone of urban activities and systems from public transport to heating and cooling. Effective local renewable energy deployment can give cities the opportunity to achieve a wide range of socio-economic and environmental objectives. 

In this session, attendees had a closer look at energy supply and efficient energy consumption. They learned about the opportunities that renewable energy presents for cities to achieve a wide range of objectives, including fighting air pollution, improving public health, and mitigating climate change. 

Sustainable Urban Renewal through Nature-Based Solutions: Lessons Learned from Chinese and German Cities

Rapid and irreversible urbanization has escalated the impact of environmental degradation, climate change and various hazards and crises. But these challenges have given rise to a growing trend of sustainable urban renewal. 

Governments of different countries, including China and Germany, are endeavoring to support the transformation and regeneration of their cities and communities to become more sustainable, resilient and livable.

Co-organized by the Sino-German Urbanisation Partnership (SGUP), which aims to promote the exchange of experiences and expertise in the field of sustainable and integrated urban development between China and Germany, this virtual exchange workshop brought together key stakeholders to share knowledge and practices on sustainable urban regeneration through applying nature-based solutions.

Introducing CitiesWithNature to Daring Cities for Climate Resilience

Nature provides immense value and multiple benefits to urban communities. The loss of nature is a global crisis in its own right, and cities are not only part of the problem, but are also key to the solution. 

This session introduced CitiesWithNature, a global partnership initiative co-founded by ICLEI, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, and The Nature Conservancy to the Daring Cities audience. The initiative provides a shared online platform for cities and regions to connect, learn, share, and inspire each other in pursuit of achieving global impact through collective local action for nature.

Attendees of this session left with a better understanding of how their city can become a city that is daring enough to demonstrate their commitment to nature. 

Innovative Climate Finance Case Studies

Local governments are at the frontline of climate action. Yet subnational governments often struggle to access finance required for sustainable, low-to-no emission, climate resilient development.

The session provided a platform for local governments to interact with financial experts, helping each other to better understand how to find and use innovative financing tools such as green bonds, revolving funds, energy performance contracts or crowdfunding for their climate project.

Nature-Based Solutions For Cities – What Are They And How Can Their Uptake Be Increased?

Many cities are looking for solutions to protect themselves from the impacts of disasters and climate change. However, many of these solutions are expensive, and they are not always sustainable or built for the growing impacts of natural hazards. Despite growing scientific evidence on their potential, the adoption of these nature-based solutions is still not widespread, especially in cities. 

This session not only explored barriers but also promising ways forward, including best practices from frontrunner cities in different ecosystems, research findings and capacity building activities. It took a deep dive into how the perception and use of urban green areas changed in the context of COVID-19 and what opportunities this change might present for the acceleration of nature-based solution uptake.

By bringing together panelists and participants from research, policy and practice, they were able to get a better understanding of how cities can best be supported in adopting nature-based solutions. 

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