28 May 2024

ICLEI and Valencia pave the way towards resilient, adaptive, and climate-neutral cities

Cities and regions across the EU are coming face-to-face with the impacts of the climate crisis. From unprecedented wildfires to droughts and floods, the effects have heralded an era in which enhanced climate adaptation and resilience action are increasingly urgent. For more than 15 years, ICLEI Europe has supported cities, towns and regions to develop adaptation and resilience strategies and action plans. Over this period, European cities and regions have faced worsening and intertwined impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss, COVID-19 pandemic, wars in the region, scarcity in resources and broken supply chains resulting in increasing stress on their societies and systems.

To support cities and regions as they meet this challenge, ICLEI and partners are inviting local stakeholders to join the European Urban Resilience Forum (EURESFO) from 26-28 June in ICLEI Member Valencia (Spain) held in conjunction with the Cities Mission Conference, the Energy Cities' Annual Forum, the Valencia Cities Climate Week and the Valencia EU Green Capital 2024 celebrations. In its 11 years, EURESFO has grown into a major forum for ICLEI Members and partners, and cities and regions from all over Europe to share their best practices with the objective of ultimately enabling each European city to safeguard citizens from the consequences of climate change, and man-made or natural hazards.

This year’s edition will highlight some of the most innovative actions being taken to create resilient, adaptive, and climate-neutral cities. The host city of Valencia itself faces climate hazards ranging from droughts to heat waves – which is why it feels particularly relevant for the city to host this year’s EURESFO. Valencia’s Mayor María José Catalá sees the event as an opportunity for cities and practitioners, “to be able to exchange experiences to improve their cities, to give participating European cities an opportunity to learn about the pioneering programmes they are carrying out and to be able to see which of these they can be applied to their cities to improve the quality of life of their residents.

Valencia will provide a meaningful backdrop to adaptation discussions, especially because work is already underway to enhance the resilience of the local water supply. Mayor María José Catalá notes, “Valencia has made an important commitment to the rational and efficient use of water, which is why we have a double water network, the drinking water supply network, and the low-pressure network of non-potable water for the irrigation of parks and gardens of more than 157 km. We are also constantly improving the pipes to prevent leaks.” These measures and others will provide a centre point for discussion: How are cities like Valencia applying the resilience approaches discussed at EURESFO?

Fittingly, the EURESFO programme covers three main topical streams: multilevel governance; enabling the transformation to resilient, adaptive, and climate-neutral cities; and water resilience promoting place-based, demand-driven, holistic and collaborative approaches. Elina Bardram, Mission Manager, Director for Adaptation & Resilience, Communication, and Civil Society Relations, DG CLIMA, European Commission notes the importance of EURESFO’s for multi-level collaboration. "In the face of climate change, collaboration is not merely an option but a necessity. Inclusive and participatory processes are also key for pursuing the priorities of the European Union. As we convene at the 11th EURESFO in Valencia, let us recognise the urgency of working together across all levels of governance and sectors. Our mission, as outlined by the EU Mission on Adaptation to Climate Change, extends beyond dialogue; it demands concerted action. EURESFO is a great opportunity to leverage collective wisdom and drive impactful change towards resilient, sustainable futures for all."

The 2024 iteration of EURESFO includes a continued focus on resilience-building in Ukraine. A panel discussion called The Roadmap from Humanitarian Response to Post-conflict Resilience and Recovery will give participants a closer look at bringing together humanitarian needs and longer-term adaptation goals, while three parallel workshops featuring 18 Ukrainian cities will explore the resilience, climate neutrality and digital transformation nexus for a sustainable post-war recovery.

The Panel discussion will help pave the way towards understanding the gaps in ongoing initiatives taking place on the ground in repose to short-term humanitarian needs. It will aid in developing a mechanism for local and regional stakeholders’ engagement to shift the current siloed investments and ad-hoc humanitarian-led actions towards a strategic and demand-led climate neutral and locally driven approach. The outcomes of this process will be shared with potential investors and donor organisations to foster business models, improve access to capital and advance public-private partnership economic behaviour, while maintaining the value, management and utility of municipal services and resources for sustainable post-war.

Explore the EURESFO programme yourself and become part of the change on 26-28 June in Valencia by registering until 14 June. Get in touch with our team and learn more about ICLEI Europe’s work and positions on climate adaptation and resilience here.