CapaCITY through Co-creation: comparing transformational processes of capability development for urban resilience

The CLimate Adaptation and REsilience (CLARE) programme actively participated in the recent 5th Capacity Building Hub event on CapaCITIES Day, held on December 5, 2023, in the PCCB Hub at COP28 in Dubai. The primary goals of this session encompassed several key aspects:

  1. To showcase the importance of enhancing the resilience of urban dwellers to climate impacts in cities of the global South, demonstrating how strengthening capacity is critical to ensuring their continued social and economic development despite shocks and stresses.
  2. To explore how co-creation approaches (i.e. multi-actor processes) can effectively contribute to enhancing these capacities for urban resilience.
  3. To learn how three diverse, innovative models of enhancing urban resilience capacity are using co-creation for system transformation. 
  4. To surface perspectives on what constitutes ‘best practices’ in capacity building for urban resilience through co-creation, and collect feedback on how these may be used in participants’ own work during the breakout discussions.
  5. To propose a Community of Practice on capacity building for urban resilience through co-creation, where active learning and sharing between diverse actors contributes to approaches for enhancing resilience capacity.


The session was moderated by Grace O’Donovan of SouthSouthNorth. Dr. Manuela Di Mauro, representing the UK Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO), opened the session with a keynote presentation, emphasising the critical need to translate adaptation research into tangible on-the-ground actions. Manuela commended the admirable efforts of the Adaptation Research Alliance (ARA), recognising its commitment to establishing enduring institutional knowledge and capacity that is crucial for effective adaptation embedded in local contexts and involving local actors. The ARA, with its guiding principle that “research needs to build capacity and empower actors for the long term,” has garnered support from over 250 organisations. This collective commitment underscores the centrality of capacity-building in delivering research that can genuinely influence actionable outcomes. Beyond the creation of research and effective actions, the process of co-creating knowledge, research, and action facilitates the sharing of expertise, collaborative efforts, and the strengthening of capacity through peer learning.


Manuela further noted that this collaborative approach holds particular significance for urban areas, where marginalised members often find themselves excluded from decision-making processes and disempowered from taking meaningful actions. The emphasis on co-creation becomes a vital tool to address these disparities and ensure inclusive, informed, and empowered urban development.


Photo: Dr Manuela Di Mauro, FCDO


One of the three presenters, Dr. Richard Jones, a science fellow at the Met Office, provided insights into the REPRESA project. This initiative aims to enhance resilience to tropical cyclones in Mozambique, Madagascar, and Malawi. The research conducted by REPRESA focuses on understanding the impacts of unprecedented but foreseeable tropical cyclones. Central to the project is the inclusive involvement of all stakeholders, including vulnerable communities, to share essential knowledge about the represented systems.


Photo: Dr Richard Jones, REPRESSA project


Dr. Kate Strachan, representing ICLEI Africa, introduced the INNACT project, aimed at designing inclusive resilience in African coastal cities, specifically Durban, South Africa and Byra, Mozambique. These cities have faced extreme flooding over the past four years, resulting in significant urban and environmental damage and loss of life. The project’s core objective is to address the challenges these cities encounter and enhance their resilience, emphasising the importance of fostering inclusivity. Unlike conventional approaches that predominantly benefit middle-income areas, INNACT strives to ensure equitable distribution of resilience packages among diverse populations, including vulnerable coastal regions. To achieve this, the project adopts a co-creation and co-learning approach, capturing the specific needs and resilience understanding of vulnerable populations. The photovoice method is employed, allowing these communities to share their own stories and perspectives, ensuring a more nuanced and inclusive approach to resilience development.


Photo: Dr Kate Strachan, INNACT project


Dr. Aditya Bahadur of the ARA provided a concise overview of the global coalition, comprising over 220 organisations from 70 countries. He emphasised that the alliance’s leadership convenes regularly to address critical issues requiring innovative joint solutions. Urban risks and pathways to urban resilience are among the key focus areas for the ARA, which aims to understand challenges and explore potential solutions. From these discussions, a clear theme has emerged: “There is no silver bullet solution for enhancing urban resilience; context is key.” It is consistently recognised that governance issues play a critical role in ensuring the effectiveness of urban resilience solutions. The coalition intends to advance the SECURe framework as a strategic approach for identifying and implementing urban resilience solutions.


Photo: Dr Aditya Bahadur, ARA


The concluding presentation came from Melyn Abisa, representing INUKA-Youth4Nature, which collaborates with diverse groups in Kenya dedicated to ecosystem restoration. Melyn emphasised the crucial role of community involvement during project implementation, stressing that this fosters openness and acceptance among community members. This inclusive approach also empowers youth groups to initiate their projects using bottom-up strategies. Key aspects such as the local economy, culture, and policies become evident during project execution, highlighting the multifaceted nature of community-based initiatives. INUKA’s emphasis on involving communities from the outset underscores the importance of grassroots engagement for sustainable and locally relevant ecosystem restoration efforts.


Photo: Melyn Abisa, INUKA-Youth4Nature


If you wish to catch up on this event, kindly visit this UNFCCC website to view the recording.