Spotlight on cities

"Our spotlight could not be any brighter, our megaphone could not be any louder," says Arnold Schwarzenegger of cities and regional governments at the closing of the Climate Summit of Local and Regional Leaders.

Arnold Schwarzenegger proud of subnational progress

Arnold Schwarzenegger on local climate action: "There are many people blown away that local governments can do this kind of work…Our clean energy revolution is now sweeping the world and it is powered by cities, states and regions – like those gathered here today. I am proud of far we have come."

Race against time

"This is the moment to take what we know cities and regions can accomplish and turn it into the everyday reality of citizens everywhere. We are at a crucial point. We are led by the monumental and far reaching Paris Agreement, but we are also in a race against time. Quite simply, we must act, all of us together and with great urgency," says Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of UNFCCC.

Winning the fight

"Cities cannot win the fight on their own, but without cities, the fight cannot be won at all," says Hans-Joachim Fuchtel, Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), Germany.

Local and regional leaders adopt the Bonn-Fiji Commitment

Mauricio Rodas, Mayor of Quito Metropolitan Government, Ecuador, lead the adoption ceremony, summarizing its intention as follows:

First, local governments are committed to do their part of the work. Second, they are committed to coordinate with national governments and institutions. Third, cities will implement specific programs and actions to effectively fight climate change.

"Local governments and cities throughout the world play a key role in the fight against climate change. We are leaving a historic moment at this Summit by adopting the Declaration that ICLEI has facilitated with the collaboration of different partners and stakeholders," says the mayor.

Cities are on the front line of climate change

H.E. Lorna Eden, Assistant Minister for Local Government, Housing and Environment in Fiji spoke the undeniable truth: Climate change affects us all. All countries and every level government need to have the tools to meet national and global goals.

Cities experience climate change first hand and local and regional governments are closest to the people. If cities do not move to address the needs of vulnerable people who will? Cities need to lead but they also need the backing of national governments and financing.

Maroš Šefčovič on climate action at all levels

H.E. Maroš Šefčovič, Vice President of the European Commission and Co-Chair of the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy: "We know that at this point, the pledges of all our governments are not sufficient to reach the well below 2 degrees Celsius target…We need well coordinated action at all levels. We need action at the global level, the regional level, the national level and the local level."

Benin Minister of Urban Development on multilevel governance and finance

H.E. Barnabé Z. Dassigli, Minister of Urban Development in Benin and Chair of the African Union Subcommittee on Decentralization and Local Governance, underscores the need for vertical integration and better cooperation among all levels of government – as well as better cooperation with financial institutions. We have to strengthen local capacity in finance and technology, he says, in addition to diversifying funding sources.

Cities as central protagonists

2017 has been one of the warmest years and has been marked by many natural disasters across continents. “We cannot overcome these disasters with words,” say Karl-Heinz Lambertz, President, European Committee of the Regions. Soon it will be difficult to explain why we did not do more. We need actions and not words. 90 percent of climate mitigation measures will be carried out by cities and regions – every day local authorities implement concrete initiatives in the energy, mobility and building sectors. Cities have to resume responsibility as central protagonists who need to push for more ambitious action by national governments.

Africa wants to lead the way

Solly Msimanga, Executive Mayor of Tshwane, South Africa, intends to show he is doing his part to tackle climate change, but knows this work cannot be done alone. "It is not going to be enough for Tshwane to do things alone…That why we decided to put the mayors of Africa in one room to talk about how to move forward," he says. The city decided to work with other cities to achieve a common goal for city development, to bring about a greener future for metropolitan areas.

For economic reasons, a growing number of citizens are moving to cities. They are looking for jobs, health facilities, clean drinking water and safe spaces. Cities are putting together a plan to make sure it is carried forward. The Tshwane Declaration 2017 speaks to how African cities will transform and how they lead the way

"Africa is not begging anymore," says Mayor Msimanga. "Africa is looking for partners and Africa wants to lead the way."

Power of citizens in Seoul

Park Won Soon, Mayor of Seoul, Korea, President of ICLEI and Member of the Board of the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy on the critical role of communities: "The real changes come from the citizens. When the citizens come together in solidarity, they can bring about real change."

Minister Barbara Hendricks on the critical role of subnational governments

Municipalities are the key protagonists for climate action, says H.E. Barbara Hendricks, Federal Minister of Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB), Germany. She acknowledges that it is the local and regional levels where people decide whether climate action will be successful – what is discussed at a national and international level, is a locally lived reality.

The Paris Agreement acknowledges the key role of subnational governments, and she sees that the subnational role is growing in importance. Ambitious climate action needs cooperation at all levels, says the minister.

Funding the transition to sustainable cities

Local governments are equal partners and stakeholders in climate projects and policies, noted Maty Mint Hamady, President of the District of Nouakchott, Mauritania. Her district focuses on the following pillars: energy access, climate adaptation, access to finance, identification of potential solutions and the implementation of ecological models.

How much is needed to fund the urban transition toward more sustainable cities? About 2 billion dollars, only about 5 percent of which will come from public funding. FMDV has outlined a strategy to mobilize finance from public and private sources. Matchmaking among cities and communities is also part of the vision.

Linking development and urbanization in Africa

Joan Clos, Executive Director of UN-Habitat, speaking on the long-lasting divide between development and urbanization, explains that bringing the two together is not always easy. But looking to Africa over the next decades – development and urbanization will converge on a new scale. Urbanization in Africa is taking place at the same time, when the world is looking at Africa as source for commodities. But we need to look at how Africa can develop their secondary and tertiary sectors and invest in their cities.

No Planet B

The Silesian region generates 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in Poland, and houses four of the most polluting cities in the area. Households are the main source of pollution, which poses a challenge to policymakers who must support residents to change their consumption patterns. The region is partnering with North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany to learn about innovative models for energy transition. This partnership has supported the region to make a change – this past year, an anti-smog provision has been passed together with a law mandating the use of high quality boilers. “The region is committed to reducing pollution and transiting to clean energy,” says Henryk Mercik, Vize-Marshall of the Silesian Voivodeship, because “there can be no plan B as there is no Planet B.’’


Accelerating actions through city to city partnerships – before it is too late

La Paz is very beautiful, but very vulnerable to climate change, explainsMariana Daza von Boeck, Secretary for Environment for La Paz, Bolivia. During a severe drought last year, 30,000 people were without tap water for 3 months. During the 2016 UNFCCC climate conference, La Paz shared their experiences with other cities, and left with valuable lessons and partnerships. Local governments cannot wait for national governments to act on climate change. They must partner to reduce emissions today or we may not have the resources in the future to adapt.

New partnership for climate reporting

Leading new initiatives are being announced at the Summit. ICLEI and CDP have just joined forces in the Climate Reporting Partnership, which will bring together CDP and ICLEI to advance their ongoing efforts on climate reporting – and ICLEI will convey this data as focal point of the Local Governments and Municipal Authorities (LGMA) Constituency to the UNFCCC. Christiana Figueres, Vice Chair, Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy, Convener of Mission 2020 and former UNFCCC Executive Secretary joined the panel to share her enthusiasm for the initiative, which she believes will be the first step in raising the confidence of governments and also their ambitions.

City twinning brings the think global, act local mantra to life

Alajuela, Costa Rica, Deputy Mayor Luna Alfaro explains how his city has benefited from a city-to-city exchange with a municipality from Germany. This perhaps atypical exchange emphasized technical knowledge for the benefit of both cities. Alajuela has received training to improve their water management systems. More such trainings are needed to show local governments around the world that there is a better, more sustainable way. The impacts also goes beyond climate – by working together in city partnerships, it helps cities like Alajuela feel part of a broader movement. Only if cities join forces will they be able to tackle the many challenges they face.

New opportunities in the green economy

Jianqing YIN, Deputy Director-General, Development and Reform Commission, Jiangsu Province, China explains that the Jiangsu is a large province with 18 industries accounting for 10 percent of manufacturing in China. The province is at the forefront of economic development and now efficiency and innovation are important challenges. He highlights that it is important to explore the possibility of creating a green economy and peak carbon emissions as soon as possible.

Women get it done

"Go into the community, talk to the people…Use the youth, use the women – because most of the time, the women will say to the children and to the community we are going to do this and get it done – and they do," says Clara Doe-Mvogo, Mayor of Monrovia, Liberia.

5 takeaways for climate action

Gunn Marit Helgesen, CEMR Co-President, outlines 5 key takeaways for climate action: Global climate agendas are only achieved with local action. Political frameworks are critical. Governing together helps us tackle climate change. Europe should reinforce the protection of the planet. Decentralized approaches help advance low carbon societies.

Everyone needs to contribute the financing conversation

Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez, Senior Director of Social, Urban, Rural and Resilience Global Practice at the World Bank Group believes everyone should contribute to the conversation on financing opportunities in cities and regions. Right now there are no clear rules in the game for local and regional governments to collect taxes – inhibiting their ability to plan, design and implement projects in their municipalities.

There also needs to be stronger partnerships between cities and their citizens to create transparency, mobilize the finance and attract the private sector. Philanthropies, global funds and climate action grants can also help cities implement projects that can have both local and global impact.

Climate lessons from the Ebola outbreak

Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, recently faced a severe Ebola crisis. To respond, the seven townships of Monrovia got together to disseminate information about virus. People did not yet believe in the threat, and it was critical to get the word out immediately.

There are lessons to be drawn when it comes to climate action.

"The change in rainy and dry seasons has impacted Monrovia. We are faced with the reality in Monrovia as in any city in the world," says Clara Doe-Mvogo, Mayor of Monrovia, Liberia. Ebola was tackled by going to the community level – a reminder that local governments need to send the message that climate change is real and that citizens have an important role in the solution.

Inclusive climate action – turning ideals into policy

Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim from the association for Indigenous Women and Peoples of Chad highlights that engaging indigenous communities is essential. The value of indigenous knowledge to combat climate change is well understood, but formal recognition in the negotiations is needed, as are inclusiveness ideals and concrete policy and action.

Climate action in Oslo

"Citizens and businesses need to do their part. Our role is to involve and engage them. As a ctiy, we need to make the green option much more preferable. That is why…we make electric cars so cheap and easy to use and why our public procurement strategy sets strict environmental standards," explains Raymond Johansen, Governing Mayor, Oslo, Norway, the 2019 European Green Capital.

Emissions in Oslo have peaked, and cycling and walking is increasing. Oslo is considered the electric car capital of Norway. 47 percent of all new registered cars in Oslo are battery EVs or plug-ins.

From industrial city to sustainable future

The Lord Mayor of Essen, Germany, Thomas Kufen, shared how his city and the whole Ruhr metropolitan area are taking climate action. Essen is also a founding member of the Urban Transitions Alliance, a network of Industrial Legacy cities and will work with partner cities such as Pittsburgh, Districts in Beijing, Shijiazhuang, Buffalo, Dortmund and Cincinnati. Together they will share knowledge and find solutions to become sustainable and livable cities.

Beyond the city

Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, Association for Indigenous Women and Peoples of Chad (AFPAT) is sending a message that climate action in rural areas requires empowerment, access to markets and the space where rural inhabitants can have a voice. She also highlights that women are more than 50 percent of this world, and that they are not just vulnerable to climate change, but also a source of ideas and solutions.

Investment incentives

Tom Steyer Founder and President of NextGen America explains that governments need to set the framework that will allow the private sector to work with them. Policies like renewable portfolio standards and energy efficiency standards are vital, but there also needs to be a physical long-term framework and infrastructure. This forward-thinking infrastructure will be what incentivizes the private sector to come in and invest.

To solve energy problems we need to take the human justice standpoint. He also added that clean air, clean water, health and wellbeing should be at the core of climate action.


We expect climate action in every city

"We are expecting to have climate action in every city around the world," states Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, Head of Climate and Energy at WWF, Former Minister of Environment, Peru and COP20 President, emphasizing the need for local action.

"Implementation means clear targets. Implementation means to address the problem and to bring solutions to close the gap and to keep the promise of the 1.5 that the Paris Agreement has brought to us. And cities are a key element and the most relevant actor."

The pioneering spirit

"The innovation, the pioneering spirit – this is what we need to go beyond the obvious," says Bertrand Piccard. "Everything we talk about today will become obvious. This is why we want to bring together everyone who has the solutions."

Bertrand Piccard explains how to fly non-stop around the world

Bertrand Piccard, Explorer and Chairman of the Solar Impulse Foundation flew around the world non-stop. It was the longest flight ever – 20 days, non-stop, without refueling.

"When you believe that something is impossible, try to analyze what is the paradigm that limits the evolution, the paradigm that limits us to go further," says Piccard. "For me, that paradigm was fuel."

"If the specialists think it is impossible, it is only because they are unable to get rid of what they have learned…You have to go to people who do not know it is impossible because they will give you the solutions."

To leave no one behind, sustainable development is needed at the regional scale

Maria Cecilia Alvarado Carrión, Vice-Prefect, Azuay, Ecuador and Chair of the South of nrg4SD emphasized the importance of sustainable development at the regional scale. In Ecuador, cities depend on rural communities for their food supply and on mountainous regions for their water. As part of RegionsAdapt and Energy First, Azuay has established a climate strategy that emphasizes responsible land use and respects the needs of all people in the region, including women, children, farmers and fisherman.

We are all connected, she noted. The principle of leaving no one behind means cooperating at the regional level between cities and rural communities to ensure everyone has the resources they need.

Creativity is key in climate action

Maria Cecilia Alvarado Carrión, Vice-Prefect of Azuay, Ecuador and Chair of the South of nrg4SD, highlights that creative solutions from all actors and sectors are vital. Local governments are in a position to be creative themselves and harness the creativity of citizens.

Local partnerships and policies advance low carbon development in China

Huaqing XU, Deputy Director General of the National Centre for Climate Change Strategy and International Cooperation explained the three tiered strategy for low carbon development in Chinese cities, which focuses on climate smart policies, development plans and low carbon investments and technology projects. China is also promoting local data platforms for cities and creative public participation programs that employ carbon points, coins and credit cards. By partnering with local governments and citizens, China is encouraging low carbon lifestyles and development pathways.


Local action in Argentina

Monika Fein, Mayor of Rosario, Argentina explains that Latin American cities have many ambitions, projects and plans, but that it is often difficult for them to access funds. They need the approval of national governments, which is a challenge when it comes to implementing action.

Energy is half the problem in Rosario, and the city aims to enhance the use of solar energy and reduce consumption through effective citizen participation. By 2030, they aim to ensure that 100 percent of waste is recycled.

Greening the economy in China

Huaqing XU, Deputy Director General, National Centre for Climate Change Strategy and International Cooperation in China, highlights the importance of legal and policy frameworks that promote a sound economic structure for green, low carbon and circular development.

We can achieve results by working together

We strive towards an integrated approach when we work to tackle climate change in cities. As cities, we really take action," says Daniël Termont, Mayor of Ghent, Belgium, President of EUROCITIES and Member of the European Board of the Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy. "When we join levels of government and work across sectors, we have a better chance to achieve effective results," emphasizes the mayor.

All levels of government can take Scotland forward on climate action

Roseanna Cunningham, Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform in Scotland says her country also believes in climate justice and is dedicated to protecting the iconic landscape of peatlands and forests. To deliver on the goals set out by the Scottish government, "We need collective action with cities, local leadership and communities," she says.

The right to a healthy environment

Roland Ries, Mayor of Strassbourg, France and Co-President of United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), highlights that Paris was a success because local representatives were involved, and that cities can help achieve global results.

He emphasizes that all people on Earth should be able to live in a world where the future is not threatened or blocked by the challenges of the present time – we need a world where everyone has the right to live in a healthy environment.

Calling for a new economy

Calisto Cossa, President of the Municipal Council, Matola, Mozambique highlights that we need to think about how to mobilize resources to prevent desertification in the continent.

He highlights the 2030 timetable, noting it is important to mobilize resources in the continent. He calls for integration among actors, across stakeholders and levels of government. He calls for integrating sustainability and climate change into business models and in our investments and for a reframing of the mechanisms of the traditional economy and finance.

Across sectors, society and all levels of government

Dieter Salomon, Lord Mayor of Freiburg emphasizes cooperation between cities is critical. They need to exchange experiences and to learn from one another. "To successfully achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, we will need active engagement cross sectors and all levels of society and government," he says.

More than just implementers

“Major challenges of our time…become particularly tangible in urban space. It is therefore, now more than ever, 25 years after the Earth Summit in Rio, that local governments play a key role in implementing the concept of sustainable development,” says Dieter Salomon, Lord Mayor, Freiburg, Germany and Member of the Executive Board, Deutscher Städtetag. But he highlights local governments are more than just implementers. “They are catalysts of change.”

Climate change is one problem where everyone is in charge

“We need to make climate actions local and we need to make them real,” says Jerry Brown, the Governor of the State of California at the Climate Summit of Local and Regional Leaders. Political mobilization on climate action is difficult but it is not impossible.

The governor reminds us that economics and ecology both have the same root in greek – eco, meaning home. We need to make a transition away from measuring our wellbeing by gross domestic product and raise our consciousness. There has never been as many people, as much technology and as much knowledge that will enable us to make a change. “If we all do our utmost – we will get it done – climate change is the one problem where everyone is in charge.”

Push yourselves even further

"We have time but not much time. So please, push yourself to the furthest degree. I will promise you that California will be right there with you…We are committing ourselves to do everything possible to get on the side of nature instead of fighting it, to deal with the climate change challenge," says Governor Brown.

Life is more than the economic model, says Governor Brown

"Our very minds are shaped by the economic model. But life is also friendship, belief, religion, artistic expression. When we see the world, we find out that many of the most momentous events are not economic. They are based on some belief," says Governor Brown. "We have to build our understanding. We have to deepen our insight into the threat we face."

Speeding up global climate cooperation with BMZ

In Germany there are 11 000 cities and municipalities who contribute to climate action in a creative way. But Hans-Joachim Fuchtel, Parliamentary State-Secretary to the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) believes that we should speed up action globally. We need to connect to our counterparts more quickly through partnerships and knowledge and innovation transfer.

Germany has 61 energy partnerships but can still do more. Germany plans to enter into 100 partnerships with Africa, a region that has huge renewable energy opportunities. Mobility and transport will also be a cornerstone of partnerships and collaboration in the future.

Governor Jerry Brown of California takes the stage

Jerry Brown, Governor, State of California, USA, Co-Founder of Under2 Coalition and COP23 Special Advisor for States and Regions takes the stage.

“We are at a closer level to the people, so that gives us a particular directness and energy with which we can carry out our work of dealing with this overarching challenge of climate change,” says Governor Brown.

Urban resilience is critical

"We need to make our cities more resilient – cities that can absorb future shocks and stresses to social, economic and physical structures, that can keep citizens in a safe and healthy environment. We in the islands are in desperate need of responsive technologies and investments to carry out these actions," says H.E. Inia Seruiratu, Minister for Agriculture, Rural and Maritime Development and National Disaster Management of Fiji.

Subnational governments raise their voice

Brahim Hafidi, First Vice President of the Moroccan Association of Regions, Kingdom of Morocco takes the stage, highlights collective subnational action on facing climate challenges. He highlights that together, subnational governments raise their voice to have a say in the climate negotiations.

Tracking climate actions at the subnational level will make the difference

Christina Figueres, the Vice Chair of the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy asked the Summit delegates to “Think into the future “. Soon cities will have inventories alongside national inventories so that we can better track how we are doing on the Paris Agreement goals.

Tracking these inventories and managing progress is imperative. Cities are already having an impact – cities belonging to the Global Covenant of Mayors already reducing emissions by 1.3 billion tons per year just by the actions of local governments.

But most importantly, ambitious climate actions at the local level improves the quality of life of the people who live in these cities and regions. To close, Christina Figueres reminds us all “We are reinventing cities that are organically grown for the people they embrace.”

Uniting for Climate – a call to action

How can we make all levels of government align in practice? Former UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres outlined two key ways: First, through a global standard of measurement for cities to track and report their climate actions. Under the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy, 7,400 cities are already committed to reducing 1.3 billion tons of CO2 by 2030 – equivalent to the emissions of Japan or Brazil, a significant contribution. Strong city leadership is also essential, to ensure cities are organically grown to serve the people they embrace. This is the vision we are working toward.

H.E. Salaheddine Mezouar, COP22 President, highlights Marrakech Partnership

H.E. Salaheddine Mezouar takes the stage, explains how the Marrakech Partnership gives an answer to the question of the non-governmental players facing up to the challenges and goals adopted in the Paris Agreement. He highlights it is important to give a voice to those making a contribution, and cities and regions play an important role.

Paris Agreement is not just a written document. It depends on local action to be irreversible, says H.E. Salaheddine Mezouar.

Cities need to join forces for our climate

Cities need to “join forces to push beyond the national commitments.” Opening the Climate Summit of Local and Regional Leaders, Melbourne Councilor, Cathy Oke reminded us that “together we are united in climate and united in our ambition to keep global warming under 2 degrees.” She emphasized that we need to build partnerships with one another to be able to deliver the Paris Agreement and demonstrate the valuable commitments that local and regional governments are undertaking.

Cathy Oke, Melbourne Councillor sets the scene

Cathy Oke, Councillor of Melbourne, Australia, opening the event, noting this is the first time a summit of local and regional leaders has taken place on the UNFCCC premises.

Councillor Oke sets the tone: Local leaders are here to make their contribution known. They are here to talk about implementation of the Paris Agreement. They are here to demonstrate to the world their valuable commitments and partnerships. This Summit features the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy and the Under2 Coalition, which embody the ambition of local actors globally.

We are #Uniting4Climate.

Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Not readable? Change text. captcha txt