As cities lead on climate change, the demand for knowledge grows
To support appropriate city-level action, UCCRN was established in May 2007 during the C40-Large Cities Climate Summit held in New York City. UCCRN, an initial group of 100 researchers in 60 cities, was created to provide knowledge to the C40 cities and other urban decision makers to enhance climate science based policy-making.
Despite two decades of nation-state led negotiations, global action on climate change is today primarily led by cities, out of sheer necessity. More than half the world’s population is urban and another two billion peoples are expected to move into cities by 2050. Global economic activity is concentrated in cities, giving rise to the fact that cities account for over 70% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Most climate change knowledge assessments have focused on continental and national scale issues, however, such as food production, water supply and forest growth. Less attention has been directed at understanding urban climate change challenges – urban heat island effects, coastal flooding, and public health risks – where the vulnerabilities are amplified due to large populations and complex interdependent urban systems. Cities, coastal and inland, and in a wide range of geographic locations, demand an iterative and continuous state-of-the-knowledge assessment process to ground their unique climate change risks and responses to adaptation and mitigation in science-based policymaking.
The UCCRN plays a key role in supporting a burgeoning ‘network of networks’ related to climate change and cities, through its own research, workshops, and networking. Key stakeholders with strong synergistic activities with ARC3 include: cities, city networks including general city groups, nation states, and international development agencies. UCCRN also supports other groups including NGOs, non-profits, private companies such as private-sector city planning and engineering firms, and other stakeholders concerned with the long-term development of cities.
The heart of UCCRN is its world-class researchers, many of whom are leading academics, IPCC authors, and practitioner scholars. They span a broad range of expertise including climate scientists; urban heat island and air quality experts; climate change impact scientists; social scientists, including political scientists, planners, and economists; and urban designers and planners. These individuals are often involved with providing climate change information and advice to decision-makers for the cities in which they are based, and represent an interdisciplinary skill set of social and natural sciences.
UCCRN has actively worked to expand membership geographically (with an emphasis on enhancing the involvement of developing country scholars) and to strengthen specific skill sets in areas where regional capacity is lacking. Regional Hubs have been initiated in cities around the world to provide more geographically-targeted research and support for local researchers and practitioners.
Through the UCCRN, new local city stakeholder-driven research will be undertaken, resulting in peer-reviewed journal articles. UCCRN will foster linkages among researchers from developing and developed countries on the critical topics needed to advance the knowledge base for adaptation solutions. These co-authored peer-reviewed articles will then be available for citation in the IPCC, ARC3, and ARC3.2 assessments and reports.
UCCRN is based at the Columbia University Earth Institute (http://www.earth.columbia.edu/).