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In late-2019, few would have imagined that it would be a global pandemic, not climate change, that would dominate the global agenda. While the pandemic continues to demand government attention throughout the Asia-Pacific region and beyond, focus will begin to shift from managing infections towards a sustainable economic recovery. As this happens, an opportunity for a green, low carbon and resilient recovery could present itself. Once the pandemic subsides, climate change mitigation and adaptation actions will return to the forefront, especially as we move towards the 26th Conference of the Parties (CoP) to the UNFCCC, due to take place in November 2021 in Glasgow. As we progress towards this milestone, can cities emerge as the leaders in promoting a low-carbon, climate resilient economic recovery in Asia-Pacific?
To achieve increasingly ambitious emissions reduction targets, while meeting adaptation needs that will arise from the ever more frequent and extreme impacts of climate change, countries in Asia and the Pacific as well as throughout the world will need to adopt increasingly innovative and responsive approaches. An essential part of these approaches is vertical integration of climate change actions among and between different levels of government, under a multi-level governance framework that involves different combinations of public, private and non-state actors and, importantly, citizens themselves.
This discussion paper explores the linkages between climate change ambitions, policies, multi-level governance frameworks and vertical integration in cities in the Asia-Pacific region. In particular, it focuses on what the paper calls: (a) specific instruments – decentralization, finance, and measuring, reporting and verification systems (MRV); and (b) cross-cutting instruments – country and city-level capacity, citizen engagement and participation and digitization. The paper draws examples from countries throughout the Asia-Pacific region, with the scope and audience of the paper being climate and urban development policymakers, technical-level officials and practitioners from across the Asia-Pacific region.

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