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Successor to the UCCRTF launched at COP26

March 2022

The UK Government announced the allocation of funding under the Climate Action for Resilient Asia (CARA) Program to continue the work of the Urban Climate Change Resilience Trust Fund (UCCRTF), launching its successor, the Urban Resilience Trust Fund (URTF), at COP26 in Glasgow on 10 November 2022. Like the UCCRTF, the URTF aims to reduce risks of poor and vulnerable residents in secondary cities in Asia and the Pacific from climate change through climate resilient planning and investments in resilience-building urban projects.

 

Moderating the launch of the URTF at COP26, Arghya Sinha Roy, Principal Climate Change Specialist on Climate Change Adaptation at the ADB, spoke about the significance of the new fund for building urban climate resilience across Asia. He explained that since its establishment, the UCCRTF has been supporting more than 2.8 million people living in 70 cities through over 60 projects, by helping them to better plan and design infrastructure to invest against the impacts of climate change. This shared ambition and partnership between ADB, and the UK government will be further scaled up through the URTF.

The opening remarks at the event were given by Nick Bridge, the UK Foreign Secretary’s Special Representative for Climate Change. “Action in the face of climate change is now urgent. Delivering climate resilience on the ground is exactly what URTF will do, with a focus on achieving real-world impact”, he said. Bridge also paid tribute to the work of the UCCRTF in laying the foundations for the URTF. “The roles that UCCRTF has played in supporting innovative approaches to resilience building across Asia has been central to the UK Government’s decision to commit a further £70 million ($100 m) to the ADB for the Urban Resilience Trust Fund.”

Building on the past

Co-panellist Xiaohong Yang, Chief Thematic Officer at ADB, explained that the URTF will seek to build on the approaches and lessons learned after 8 years of programming under the UCCRTF. “The UCCRTF helps cities to build forward better and achieved great results,” she explained. “If you look at the projects before and after, you will see huge impact from the fund that makes a real impact at the city level. It has changed not just the hard infrastructure, but also the mindset. City mayors are excited about the new approaches to planning and urban development, and the UCCRTF has affected things on a systemic level.”

Speaking by video link, Manoj Sharma, Chief of Urban Sector Group, Sustainable Development and Climate Change Department (SDCC), ADB, added to Xiaohong Yang’s praise for UCCRTF’s work, saying that the fund has influenced the design and planning of ADB’s urban projects citing examples from Indonesia, where the UCCRTF has supported Nature-based Solutions to offer non-networked water supply and sanitation services for a community of informal settlements, and in the Philippines, where the trust fund financed a master plan review of the proposed 9,500 hectare New Clark City (NCC) which paved the way for nature-based solutions to influence subsequent development activities, including a follow-up investment from the UK government under the Global Future Cities Program to build a 45-hectare park in NCC.

Sharing lessons and scaling solutions

As with the UCCRTF the URTF will be administered in close partnership between the ADB and the UK Government. Shantanu Mitra, Head, Infrastructure and Urban Development, British High Commission, India, has been involved with the UCCRTF since its inception. He explained that the UCCRTF has provided a huge amount learning that informs the design of the URTF.

“Our thinking behind the UCCRTF was that we wanted to create a trust fund that will help shift to beyond business as usual across the portfolio. Our feeling is that we are well on the way to demonstrating this sort of change. It is a long process, but the fruits are now beginning to show. UCCRTF has demonstrated the concept and has delivered a huge amount of benefit on the ground.” He said, whilst also cautioning that there was a lot still to do. “We are not there yet. Fundamentally changing the way city planners and governments think about planning and development – this does not happen overnight. One of the important challenges for the future is how to take the ideas and lessons from the UCCRTF to scale.”

It is hoped that through the URTF and linking into the wider CARA programme, the impact on urban resilience planning can be magnified. “We learned that for climate resilience to take hold, we need to shift the entry point for interventions earlier in the planning phase” said Mitra. “The URTF needs to influence not just how things are done, but what is done. There is also a need and an opportunity to push the envelope on innovation and to expand the reach of the work through strategic collaborations with other initiatives such as C40 Cities and the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI).”

The partnership theme was one that was picked up by Rob Elsworth, Climate and Environment Adviser, Indo-Pacific Regional Team, FCDO. “Our absolute priority is to ensure that the lessons learned from implementing the UCCRTF and the URTF are shared with partners and can inform the wider CARA programming” he said. “The URTF has potential to have significant impact for cities across Asia and beyond”.

Growing ambition

The URTF is an example of ADB’s increasing focus on climate change resilience. Noelle O’Brien, Chief of Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management Thematic Group, and Director of Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management Division (SDCD), ADB spoke of the URTF in this context. “ADB has recently announced the scaling up of ambitions under its Strategy 2030 with 75% of its projects to have a climate focus and $100 billion committed to climate projects with 30% of this spent on adaptation, by 2030.”

O’Brien also explained that ADB would work to have all sovereign investments and 80% of private sector investments Paris-aligned by 2030. This is in addition to ADB scaling up support for transformative technologies, such as geo-spatial tools and data, such as the Spatial Data Analysis Explorer (SPADE).

The closing remarks were given by Verinder Sharma, Principal Urban Development Specialist, ADB, who expressed his thanks to all those involved their continued commitment and partnership that was delivering real benefits for people across the region saying: “the challenges we face due to climate change are only going to get greater, now is a moment where we will all come together to scale up our work to reach more people”.

Watch Shantanu Mitra speak about the newly launched URTF:

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