The UN-Habitat Regional Office for Arab States, under auspices of the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy and the Islamic Development Bank, and in close coordination with the EU-funded Clima-Med project, organised a 3 days training workshop on “Building Capacities for Climate Action at the City Level in the Arab Region” in Beirut, Lebanon from 18 to 20 February 2019.The workshop aimed at raising awareness on the impacts of Climate Change in Mediterranean Neighbourhood cities, enhancing the ability of national and local authorities in the Arab region to develop local climate action plans, and providing guidance on mitigation and adaptation mechanisms.

Gathering around 50 experts, national and local authorities from across the region as well as representatives from International Organisations and other UN agencies, the workshop discussed a multidimensional approach for a coherent and coordinated response against climate change in cities, and the establishment of appropriate coordination mechanisms at the regional, national and local levels.

The first day of the capacity building event started with welcome remarks and opening speeches by Naguib Amin, Clima-Med team leader, Mr. Idrissa Dia – Senior Advisor to the Vice President at the Islamic Development Bank and Ms. Zena Ali Ahmad – Regional Director for Arab States with the UN-Habitat.

It then took-off with a session on Creating Climate Action Synergies at the Local, National Regional and Global Levels by Naguib Amin followed by a presentation on Cities & Climate Change and the impacts on Urban Settings and Frameworks for Response, by Mr. Tarek Abdel Monem, and continued with approaches for development of environmental scenarios for better planning at the local and Regional Levels, where Mr. Ahmed Abdelrehim from CEDARE presented the use of scenarios in an environmental context.

Ms. Iliyana Arnaudova, from RCREEE, made a very thorough presentation on access to Climate Finance. The audience learned also about the many climate actions taken in the MENA region, and Case Studies from Arab Cities on Climate Change Adaptation Measures and Building Resilience were presented from Batloun, Maaser Al-Chouf and Hasbya Municipalities in Lebanon.

The second and third day of the training in Lebanon were marked by practical presentations on the preparation and development of Sustainable Energy Access and Climate Action Plan (SEACAP).

The session ‘’Enabling Framework: SEACAPs for Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation at the Local Level’’ introduced pre-planning requirements and the importance of Local Climate planning as part of the sustainable local development in the urban setting.

Clima-Med’s experts, Ms. Alexandra Papadopoulou & Mr. Oussama Kaassamani introduced to participants the use of SEACAPs as tools for improved service delivery, offered by the Local Authorities.

A Practical training on the development and preparation of Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plans (SEACAP) at the City Level in the Arab Region was provided to participants, introducing the importance of Local Climate planning as part of the sustainable local development in the urban setting.

During the Q&A session, Ms. Papadopoulou and Mr. Kaassamani gave answers to the many questions coming from participants concerning SEACAP coordination, the type of SEACAP organisational structures and external support, which municipalities can seek to efficiently implement their plans.

Clima-Med’s team elaborated on ten key elements, which local authorities have to keep in mind, when developing a SEACAP. These were illustrated by best practices and lessons learnt from local mitigation and adaptation actions in EU and the MENA region. This was followed by a group exercise during which participants identified their priorities and actions related to climate, energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy in their cities.

The final day of the training started with a recap of the previous two days, followed by a presentation on identifying priority actions for mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

In this perspective, our experts introduced working models of climate finance such as grant programs, public-private partnerships (PPPs), private sector operations, National third-party financing, revolving funds and green bonds.

Uses and techniques of awareness raising and communication, methods for efficient engagement with stakeholders and citizens as well as their tools to promote climate actions were presented by Ms Myriam Makdissi, Key Expert Communication for Clima-Med.

The workshop provided an opportunity for the exchange of knowledge, tools and best practices from across the region, where participants were able to reflect on their key national challenges, outline priorities and present success stories from their home countries including. Mr. Faisal Al Thalabi from Yemen’s Second National Communication gave the final presentation: A case study on climate change impacts on the city of Aden, and mitigation actions to control their effects.

The three-day capacity building event concluded with wrap up-discussions and distribution of certificates to all participants. The take-outs from the workshop which will be followed by Clima-Med are:

– Continued collaboration with the Islamic Bank of Development and its inclusion in Clima-Med’s Donors Coordination Group;

– Provided guidance to UN-Habitat and work together to share SEACAP preparation tools; and check the feasibility of providing g similar workshops;

– Agreements with the Union of Municipalities to join the CoM and modalities of Help Desk to prepare the SEACAPs.

The outcomes of the workshop as well as the recommendations and case studies presented will be captured in a joint publication titled “Local Climate Adaptation and Mitigation Action in the Arab Region: Evidence, Case Studies and Recommendations” that shall act as a guide for Arab cities towards climate action.