The Urban Resilience Investment Forum 2020, a three-part virtual event jointly organized by the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD), Climate Change Commission (CCC), and United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), concluded last November 25 with five cities successfully presenting their innovative climate-resilience projects to potential investors and partners.  It gathered a total of almost 1,400 participants in its four-day run, representing the local government, national government agencies, private sector, development organizations, and the academe. Among the participants are investors from local commercial and government banks, private companies and donor agencies.

According to the World Cities Report 2020, delivering on the urban dimension of the Sustainable Development Goals will cost US$38 trillion. The financial resources are available globally, but they are not channeled to areas where they are most needed.

The Investment Forum served as a strategic platform for relevant stakeholders to participate and discuss the current landscape of support for city climate action plans, pressing issues in accessing financing solutions, and making finance flow from global and national sources down to the cities.

Financing Urban Resilience in Cities

“As we battle this pandemic, we as leaders, policy makers, planners, developers, and investors cannot compromise the future of our cities. We cannot separate the issues of urban development, climate change, and public health,” said Hon. Eduardo D. Del Rosario, Secretary of the DHSUD in his keynote message during Part 1 held on October 30.

The first part, held as prelude to World Cities Day, set the scene for thinking and the actions around financing urban resilience considering the global and national climate goals.

A plenary presentation highlighted the opportunities and challenges on climate financing in the Philippines, while a panel discussion, which represented the demand and supply side of climate finance,  analyzed the available financing mechanisms and funding sources, avenues for collaboration, current climate mitigation and adaptation projects supported by government finance institutions, and innovative models that cities can adapt for more climate-smart investments.

Matching City-scale Solutions with Financing and Investments

Part 2, held on November 17 and 19, provided the venue for partner cities of the Building Climate Resilience through Urban Plans and Designs (BCRUPD) to pitch their urban plans and projects on climate resilience and green recovery with investors to explore funding and financial potentials that will support their plans and projects.

The cities of Angeles, Cagayan de Oro, Legazpi, Ormoc, and Tagum, led by their mayors, respectively presented the Angeles Aquipark which re-designs the landlocked city to address the negative impacts of climate change; Project Lunhaw which creates urban-friendly green spaces by transforming vacant spaces into climate adaptive recreational areas; Legazpi Urban Streetscape which aims to help the city adapt to the impacts of flooding, sea-level rise, and increasing urban temperatures; Ormoc Urban Waterscape which adopts nature-based and engineering design solutions to help address flooding, heat stress, and storm surge; and Tagumpay Citywalk which aims to protect its most vulnerable residents by introducing holistic and integrated urban design solutions.

The city presentations gathered validation, recommendations, and expressions of support from the private, socio-civic, and government sector at both local and national level.

“Through these promising urban resilience initiatives, we expect to improve the overall network in addressing the social issues arising from shared catastrophes, these will enhance government response to the affected areas in the future,” said Department of Budget Management Undersecretary Hernan Jumilla in support of the city projects.

“More than ever we have seen the critical role of our local government units (LGUs) all over the Philippines in responding to the immense challenges…To support our LGUs, the national government has put together economic stimulus measures to boost our health system and provide relief to sectors and families hardest hit by the pandemic,” added Assistant Secretary Tony Lambino of the Department of Finance. He elaborated these measures as the Bayanihan II or the Recover As One Act, as well as the calamity and climate loans offered by Landbank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines.

Investing in Local Climate Solutions: Finance and Resilience Lessons for Urban Adaptation

Held last November 25 and coinciding with the 2020 National Climate Change Consciousness Week, Part 3 focused on finance and resilience lessons for climate-resilient green recovery and on advocating investment support for local climate actions.

“The scale and scope of issues related to climate change are complex in the urban setting, often with transboundary issues which amplify the need for solutions on a regional or metropolitan scale… As our cities re-strategize governance and planning  due to this pandemic, there is an opportunity to upgrade and transform  business-as-usual strategies and be more anticipatory and adaptive towards green Covid-19 recovery,” said Atty. Rachel Anne Herrera, Commissioner of CCC.

Lessons from the previous two parts of the forum were summarized by Maria Adelaida Antoinette Mias-Cea, Asia Pacific Regional Coordinator of the UN-Habitat Cities and Climate Change Initiative.

“When it comes to funding there are support mechanisms and financing available for our cities to deliver urban climate action. However, alignment has to be there. Global, national and local financing streams have to be clear such that climate finance can really flow and projects get implemented. Alignment and partnership with the private sector are really crucial and should be fully maximized. The question now is how can these be fostered? What is the business case? What are the incentives?”  She also recapped the challenges in terms of knowledge and capacity of cities, flexibility of investors, and scale of projects in making finance flow.

Resource speakers from the DHSUD, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, LBP, and ADEC Innovations shared their insights on maximizing land-based financing mechanisms, championing sustainability in the financial system,  financing programs for climate change, Gap Fund support, and impact investments, to name a few.

In closing, Christopher Rollo, Country Programme Manager of UN-Habitat Philippines, provided a picture of how the projects will move forward post-forum.

“The real test of these projects is to know whether they are just pipe dreams in the urban wish list or are actually bankable projects that can be financed and implemented. Thus, we encourage further conversations between cities and possible investors, partners and supporters to realize these projects.

At the national level, policy work continues with the finalization of the enhanced national guidelines on urban planning and design which will be translated into training modules for all local government units, with the city examples as concrete demonstration of useful tools and approaches.”

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The Urban Resilience Investment Forum 2020 is organized as part of the Building Climate Resiliency through Urban Plans and Designs (BCRUPD), Phase 1, a three-year project that supports the Philippine government in improving policies, regulations, and capacities to adapt to climate change through the promotion of climate-responsive sustainable urban development plans and designs. BCRUPD is implemented by UN-Habitat and the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development in partnership with the Climate Change Commission, Department of the Interior and Local Government, National Economic and Development Authority and the League of Cities of the Philippines. The project is supported by the German Federal Government’s International Climate Initiative (IKI).

For more information on BCRUPD and the Urban Resilience Investment Forum 2020, visit  https://designingresilience.ph/ or follow http://facebook.com/bcr.upd or https://twitter.com/bcr_upd for updates.

Access presentations and session recordings here.