Closing Knowledge Gaps on Human Settlements and Adaptation: The Way Forward

The Nairobi work programme side event - Closing Knowledge Gaps on Human Settlements and Adaptation: The Way Forward - was held in conjunction with the 48th Session of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA 48) in Bonn, Germany. The event discussed opportunities to close knowledge gaps related to human settlements and adaptation with NWP partner organizations and national delegates.

Please click here to view Action Pledges on human settlements and adaptation and to add your own. 



More than 50% of the world’s population lives in urban areas, a number which is expected to near 70% by 2050. Climate change is exacerbating the vulnerability of human settlements to natural and human-made hazards globally to a disproportionate degree, especially in developing countries, coastal and delta regions and Small Island Developing States (SIDS). Increasing the climate resilience of human settlements is thus an important measure to protect lives and livelihoods, preserve development gains, and promote sustainable development.

The event discussed opportunities to close knowledge gaps related to human settlements and adaptation with NWP partner organizations and national delegates. Building on the outcomes of the 11th Focal Point Forum and the NWP synthesis paper “Adaptation in human settlements: key findings and way forward,” the aim of the event was to identify concrete proposals with NWP partners to address knowledge needs in the short and medium term.

  • Increased understanding about existing adaptation knowledge gaps and barriers related to human settlements;

  • Opportunities for further collaboration among participants identified, including between NWP partners, Parties, and the UNFCCC secretariat;

  • Proposals and action pledges for closing adaptation knowledge gaps relevant for human settlements.

For more information, please click SBSTA 48 Conclusion.

Schedule / Program

Tuesday 1 May 2018 (13:15 - 14:45 PM) - Room: Bonn


Ms. Musonda Mumba, PhD, Programme Officer, Climate Change Adaptation Unit, UN Environment

13:15 – 13:30

Opening - Mr. Aderito Manuel Fernandes Santana, SBSTA Rapporteur, (Sao Tome and Principe)

Introductory remarks – Advancing adaptation efforts through national and local government partnerships

13:30 – 13:35

Presentation of key takeaways from the NWP synthesis report

Adaptation in human settlements: key findings and way forward

Ms. Laura Kavanaugh, UNFCCC Secretariat

13:35 – 13:55

Adaptation knowledge gaps at local and national levels

Integrating Human Settlements into National Adaptation Plans

Mr. Robert Kehew, Leader, Climate Change Planning Unit, Urban Planning and Design Branch, UN-HABITAT

Closing the Knowledge Gap Challenges facing island settlements

Mr. Steve Gawler, Regional Director, Oceania Secretariat, ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability

Science-Policy Dialogue For Urban Climate Action

Mr. Nicola Tollin, PhD, Professor, University of Southern Denmark; Executive Director of RESURBE International Program on Urban Resilience, led by Recycling Cities Network RECNET

Expert panelists will share their insights on the context of the issues raised and opportunities to address challenges in the short and medium term related to:

  • Identifying and closing adaptation knowledge gaps at the national and local level
  • Aligning local needs with global goals through national adaptation planning



Participants will break into groups to discuss opportunities for addressing knowledge needs as they relate to human settlements and adaptation.

Given the challenges identified (present situation) and the ideal scenario (desired future), groups will discuss the following questions with the aim to identify concrete ideas for catalyzing coordinated adaptation action at all levels:

  • What does a National Adaptation Plan that effectively integrates human settlements look like?
  • What is needed to convert existing resources into more actionable knowledge for local and national officials?
  • Who are the essential actors to drive these processes forward?
  • How can you or your organization contribute?

14:25 – 14:40

Rapporteurs will report on the outcomes of each group discussion including proposals for concrete next steps. These will also be captured via Slido. Participants will have the opportunity to offer suggestions, questions, and clarifications, guided by the session facilitator.

14:40 – 14:45

Concluding remarks

Mr. Julio Cordana, Chile

Further information

The Nairobi work programme (NWP) was established in 2005 to facilitate the development, dissemination and use of knowledge to inform adaptation policies and practice. It operates as a knowledge-to-action hub under the UNFCCC that supports enhanced action on climate resilience by (1) engaging a growing network of non-Party stakeholders in sharing their experience and expertise (2) capturing and synthesizing the latest information and knowledge on key adaptation issues (3) fostering science–policy–practice collaboration to close identified knowledge gaps (4) disseminating knowledge and fostering learning to boost adaptation action at all levels.

In May 2016, the Subsidiary Body for Science and Technological Advice (SBSTA) gave the NWP the mandate to investigate the area of human settlements and adaptation. The SBSTA invited Parties, NWP partner organizations and other relevant entities to submit information on recent activities and research on human settlements related, in particular, to assessing sensitivity and vulnerability to climate change, integrating both short-term and long-term climate considerations, the role of national governments in supporting adaptation at the local level, city-to-city partnerships on climate change, and cross-cutting issues and linkages related to the formulation and implementation of National Adaptation Plans (NAPs). The overarching aim of the request was to inform work on human settlements in adaptation planning and implementation.

Over the course of 2017, the NWP collaborated with partners to deliver

In 2018, the NWP captured the outcomes of these activities in a synthesis report which highlighted key findings and potential ways forward. As a follow up, the NWP convened a side event with Parties and partners during the 2018 Bonn Climate Change Conference to formulate concrete next steps to address the knowledge needs identified.

For further inquiry, please contact Ms. Laura Kavanaugh (