IIED and partner events at the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit


This page summarises the activities of IIED, its researchers and partners around the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York in September.

UN Climate Action Summit 2019
IIED's news, insight, activities and more related to the 2019 United Nations Climate Action Summit
Protesters march and carry climate-related placards

The 2019 Climate Action Summit was convened by the UN Secretary-General (UNSG) António Guterres to mobilise political and economic energy at the highest levels to advance action on climate change. The summit took place on 23 September 2019 at UN headquarters in New York. 

It coincided with the 74th UN General Assembly (from 17-30 September), the High Level Political Forum (24-25 September), the 2019 High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development (26 September), and New York Climate Week. The Secretary-General called on world leaders to come to New York with concrete, realistic plans to enhance their nationally determined contributions by 2020, in line with reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 45% over the next decade, and to net zero emissions by 2050.

Ahead of the summit, over 600 young people participated in a youth summit at UN headquarters on 21 September. There was also two days of working meetings on 21 and 22 September that focused on key climate action areas, including a day-long 'Building a resilient future' event on Sunday, 22 September.

IIED's staff, including director Andrew Norton, led and participated in a number of events surrounding the summit, and highlighted work on climate resilience, nature-based solutions; supporting the work of the Global Commission on Adaptation; highlighting the importance of directing money where it matters; and supporting the Least Developed Countries (LDC) Group of the UNFCCC, which attendied the summit and launched a 2050 Vision for a climate-resilient future.

Building a Resilient Future

Date: Sunday, 22 September
Venue: University Center, The New School, 63 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 11217

This one-day event focused on urgent and transformative actions needed to build a resilient future and embed resilience into efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. It was designed to create a participatory, innovative, inclusive and diverse space for various multi-stakeholders to share the actions and commitments they are making to achieve a transformative, resilient future.

Sessions led or co/hosted by IIED:

Session 3: Empowering resilience programming in action: leveraging capacities, knowledge and tools

Location: Starr Hall L.02
This session included actions on best resilience practice and knowledge across sectors and on building the capacity of developing country organisations and governments to advance action on resilience. This session featured a 'learning marketplace group' on resilience programming and financing: a whole of society approach, led by IIED researcher Marek Soanes.

Speakers: Saleemul Huq (moderator), IIED/ICCCAD; Karen Wong, IIED, Sarah Nandudu, SDI; Saqib Huq, ICCCAD.

Side event 1: Community Resilience Partnership Program (CRPP) launch

Location: Classroom 1

During resilience day, a partnership to support countries in Asia and the Pacific to scale up local investments in climate and disaster resilience was launched. The CRPP will support the implementation of the priorities identified in the Global Commission on Adaptation's Locally-Led-Adaptation action track.

The CRPP will focus on developing investments that explicitly strengthen the resilience of poor and vulnerable people; facilitating financing mechanisms that allow money to reach the hands of poor people to adapt and build resilience; and strengthening institutions and processes that reinforce the participation of poor and vulnerable people in decision-making processes for building resilience.

Session 4: Accelerating resilience through scaling nature-based solutions

Location: Main auditorium
This session included actions on nature-based solutions to build long-term resilience including IIED-led ongoing work on ecosystem-based adaption. It explored actions based on nature that can build resilience to extreme events, that can preserve and restore land, freshwater and marine ecosystems, while tackling issues of food and water insecurity, employment, equality and equity, among others.

Speakers: Andrew Norton, IIED; Nathalie Seddon, IIED/Nature-Based Solutions Initiative/Oxford University

Related reading: Nature-based solutions to climate change adaptation | Is ecosystem-based adaptation effective? Perceptions and lessons learned from 13 project sitesTools for ecosystem-based adaptation: new navigator now available

Session 6: Financing for a resilient future

Location: Lower Level – L1.05
This session examined actions on increasing finance for resilience from the public and private sector, and innovative technologies, tools, and finance mechanisms. The session explored not only how to make sure that the finance is increased but also how to make it accessible to finance adaptation and resilience building at the local level (ie ‘money where and when it matters’).

Speakers: Marek Soanes, IIED.
Related reading: Money where it matters: designing funds for the frontier

Session 7: Resilient cities, infrastructure and energy systems: critical to transformative change

Location: Starr Hall L.02
This session examined actions to improve the resilience of the built environment and the ecosystem services they depend upon – not excluding informal settlements and slum communities with their specific needs and priorities. This session also included actions to enhance climate change adaptation and resilience of transport infrastructure that connects people and freight markets, vulnerable rural and urban communicates, including energy system transformations in both.

Speakers: representatives of Slum/Shack Dwellers' International.

Other events

Workshop: Do nature-based solutions work? Exploring the scientific evidence of the effectiveness of working with nature to address climate change impacts

Date: Monday, 23 September
Venue: Convene, 101 Park Ave, New York, NY 10178

There is growing awareness that nature-based solutions (NbS) can help to protect us from climate change impacts while slowing further warming, supporting biodiversity and securing ecosystem services. However, the potential of NbS to provide the intended benefit has not been rigorously assessed. 

This workshop started with a talk providing an overview of the evidence base for the effectiveness of NbS to deal with the impacts of climate change, based on a systematic review of the scientific literature. It introduced a series of online tools to make scientific information on the socio-economic and ecological effectiveness of NbS to climate change adaptation more accessible to decision makers, aiming to support the incorporation of NbS into climate-change adaptation policy, and ultimately practice. The demonstration was followed by a focus group discussion to elicit feedback and guide development of the Nature-Based Solutions Initiative (NBSI) evidence tools.

The NBSI toolkit includes an interactive evidence map linking NbS to adaptation outcomes based on a systematic review; a policy platform for exploring the state of NbS pledges in Nationally Determined Contributions; and a comprehensive bibliography portal on NbS.

Partners: Nature-based Solutions Initiative, University of Oxford, IIED and UNEP-WCMC.
Speakers: Nathalie Seddon, NBSI/University of Oxford/IIED; Alexandre Chausson and Beth Turner, both NBSI/University of Oxford; Cécile Girardin, NBSI/Oxford University School of Geography and the Environment 
Related reading: Nature-based solutions to climate change adaptation

Big Ideas Talk: understanding the transformational power of Nature-based Solutions to climate change impacts

Date: Wednesday, 25 September
Venue: Central Park Zoo, 64th Street & 5th Avenue, New York, NY 10065

This event will focus on showcasing innovative solutions with a transformational impact that are replicable, scalable, and that help to protect us from climate change impacts while slowing further warming, supporting biodiversity, and securing ecosystem services (such as sustainable development co-benefits).

Short talks provided key lessons from IIED’s recent research on EbA effectiveness based on experiences from 12 countries and 13 sites. The event provided a forum to discover and explore successful stories of change, focusing on ecosystem-based adaptation action on the ground (forests, mountains, oceans). They also provided an overview of current levels of ambition for NbS/EbA in the first nationally determined contributions (NDCs). The discussion focused on how best to improve targets for NbS/EbA and integrate these into the next round of NDCs and National Adaptation Plans.

Partners: Nature-Based Solutions Initiative, University of Oxford, IIED, UNEP-WCMC.
Speakers include: Nathalie Seddon, University of Oxford/NBSI/IIED; Xiaoting Hou-Jones, IIED.
Related reading: Is ecosystem-based adaptation effective? Perceptions and lessons learned from 13 project sites | Nature-based solutions to climate change adaptation | Tools for ecosystem-based adaptation: new navigator now available