Regions raising the bar for ambitious outcomes at 2021 UN Climate Conference 

Natalia Uribe Pando 

Secretary General 


2021 is a critical moment to accelerate climate and biodiversity action, raise ambitions in this crucial decade and unlock the full potential of subnational governments as key actors of transformative change. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has made us face unprecedented challenges and uncertainties, exposed the interdependencies and social and economic inequalities across our planet as well as the inseparable links between human and planetary health.

Solidarity and collaboration amongst all levels of government, civil society, private sector, scientific community, citizens and communities, has proven that a collective response is possible and necessary. This level of cooperation must continue in our fight against the climate emergency and biodiversity loss, which remain amongst the most pressing crises of our time. 

Recognizing their key role at the forefront of the pandemic, regions are committed to combat global emergencies and build a sustainable, resilient, and just recovery, which includes an accelerated response to the climate and biodiversity crises worldwide1 .

Towards an ambitious and multi-level governance COP26 

The latest International Panel on Climate Change report leaves no room for doubt: the climate crisis is not only here, but the impacts are worse than previously thought and will grow costlier and more devastating. Since we have already permanently changed our planet, there is equally an urgent need to adapt and build resilience while simultaneously mitigating further warming. 

This is why the 26th meeting of the Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP26) in November this year in Glasgow must be a turning point for world leaders to come together before the ability to limit global warming to 1.5C is out of reach. The revision of nationally determined contributions (NDCs) to be presented in COP26 must reflect ambitious mitigation and adaptation action, mobilising climate finance and promoting collaboration for action, as national governments will only be able to reach their climate targets if regional and local actors bring in their full potential.

Indeed, regional governments are spearheading some of the necessary transformations and are developing innovative scalable solutions to transition towards resilient economies and territories. This is what Regions4 has witnessed first-hand through its flagship initiative RegionsAdapt, that since 2015 has inspired and supported over 70 regional governments worldwide representing over 280 million people, to develop adaptation plans and strategies, take concrete actions and transparently report on progress. Regions4 will be present at COP26 to bring forward the expertise, lessons learnt and good practices of regions through the past 5 years of this initiative, that counts with the long-standing support of ORU Fogar.

To this end, we are working closely with the Marrakesh Partnership and the Local and Municipal Authorities constituency (LGMA), and calling for CoP26 to deliver on: 

1. Raising ambitions on adaptation and resilience. The reviewed NDCs and national adaptation plans must allow for more collaboration between actors and sectors, with joint, amplified, and measurable ambitions on adaptation.  RegionsAdapt is now a proud official partner of the UN Race to Resilience campaign and commits to support regional governments to contribute to the campaign’s objective of building the resilience of 4 billion people from groups and communities who are vulnerable to climate risks3

2. Driving systems change towards multi-level governance. Multilevel collaboration should become the new normal in every country. Regional governments must be involved in the design, coordination, and implementation of NDCs and national adaptation plans (NAPs). These plans need to be translated at the local level and supported by national governments. Strengthened tools and mechanisms for collaboration between the regional and national levels are key. 

3. Mobilizing finance to reach subnational governments: by shifting the trillions needed to achieve the Paris Agreement with credible targets and plans for deploying capital to developing countries and at the regional and local levels. Finance also needs to support adaptation measures and allow for fiscal decentralization and investment in the public sector, to duly equip regional institutions. Localising international climate finance mechanisms, such as the Green Climate Fund, would be critical to support the role of regional governments.

4. Facilitate synergies across agendas to find common solutions for the climate and biodiversity emergencies towards sustainable development that leaves no one behind. National governments need to align as much as possible NDCs and NAPs with the SDGs to allow for policy coherence, that can be translated at regional and local levels. Connecting the climate and biodiversity agendas is especially crucial at this moment when the upcoming 15th meeting of the Convention on Biological Biodiversity (CoP15) will adopt a new global biodiversity framework. Regions4 is actively advocating for a greater inclusion of subnational governments in this new framework4.

As we have seen for the COVID-19 pandemic, we need extraordinary efforts under exceptional circumstances. 2021 marks a year of critical meetings and a turning point if the world wants to secure a future where people and planet can thrive together. Local and regional governments stand ready to meet the challenge and Regions4 will continue to catalyze this leadership for a sustainable, inclusive, and climate-resilient future. I warmly invite all member regions of ORU Fogar to join us to build a resilient future together!


Join the #WhatsAtState campaign 

What exactly do we stand to lose if we don’t act now? If we don’t, collectively, meet our obligations under the Paris Agreement? 

Through the joint Regions4- Under 2 Coalition campaign #WhatsAtState, states and regions from across the world will demonstrate what is at stake. From now until COP26, they will show what is being lost to climate change in their region, why it must be tackled as a defining crisis of our time and bring forward the bold actions regions are taking already2.


Subnational governments actions to combat global emergencies and build a sustainable post-pandemic world”



© All rights reserved ORU. Barcelona 2023