Making the impossible happen

Reflections on COP26 from Seth Schultz, CEO, The Resilience Shift.

It’s almost the end of this year’s Conference of Parties (COP). While the negotiations are likely to continue for a few more days, the general hubbub of the blue and green zones will start to quieten as many pavilions close this Friday.

I have been privileged to attend many COPs and there are elements that I recognise each time, in particular the general chaotic nature of the timetables, moving and changing events as speakers drop in and out, and agendas are firmed up, often very late in the day.

This year does feel rather different and is more critical. With the uncertainties of Covid, and the new urgency brought to us by the recent IPCC, UN and WMO reports, there has been a heightened momentum for change and new forms of partnerships focused on implementation.

The private sector and other non-state actors are galvanised by the Race to Zero and Race to Resilience into making visible commitments, and The Resilience Shift has partnered with Resilience First and with Wood, Arup and others on a range of targeted initiatives.

This year also saw the first ever Resilience Hub at a COP, that I was proud to lend our support to as one of the three managing partners.

COP President Alok Sharma at the Resilience Hub on Thurs 11th

With over 150 events and more than 80 partners involved plus many speakers from around the world, it has been a genuine focal point for adaptation and resilience during the two weeks of the conference and has been a bustling place to meet, mix and collaborate, and of course for visitors to socialise over a coffee or two in between the event programme.

All of the sessions are available to watch online at www.cop-resilience-hub.org and we’ll be sharing many of the highlights over the coming months. It’s been particularly effective to work closely with the Climate Champions and the Hub has been the home of the Race to Resilience during the two weeks.

The Resilience Shift has also been busy at COP and elsewhere. We have further shared our new film series, Resilience Engineered, and are inviting organisations to host screenings to prompt discussion about resilience in their networks and workplaces that can help to build the business case for change.

We have also supported the Built Environment Coalition, and the Race to Resilience, and continue to build on our work with Resilience4Ports. As part of this, I’m delighted that we will be hosting and supporting the Navigating a Changing Climate coalition alongside our hosting of the International Coalition for Sustainable Infrastructure (ICSI).

We are also sharing a number of pieces of work from ICSI that will contribute to changes in practice most notably the Infrastructure Pathways end-to-end docking guidance for climate resilient infrastructure.

Finally, I am very proud to launch, at the COP Science Pavilion, our collaboration with several of the world’s leading climate change scientists together with city and business leaders, global NGOs and national governments, to announce a new initiative, the Summary for Urban Policymakers (SUP) that will present the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessments in accessible and targeted summaries that can help inform action at the city scale.

Screengrab from the event live stream on Thurs 11th

At COP21 in Paris, the world’s governments in 2015 moved to adopt a ratcheting up process to move beyond perceived immoveable barriers to taking climate action.

In 2021 this ratcheting up process seems to be fuelled by the radical collaboration emerging from the non-state actor community. The 150+ events in the Resilience Hub shared many common goals across their wide focus areas, and it seems to me that we spoke with one voice about the importance of adaptation and resilience alongside the urgent need to decarbonise and make our planet sustainable once more.

A huge thank you to all our partners and sponsors, event curators and to the team on the ground, for making this possible.

Seth