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Facilitating climate solutions for local governments to raise ambition and accelerate action

Who should engage in raising ambition and accelerating climate action? Over the last two weeks, national and local representatives gathered in Bonn for the Bonn Climate Change Conference organized by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to discuss this point. Celebrating the important achievements of COP 21, governments and other key actors discussed the way forward for implementing action.

ICLEI, present during the two weeks, participated in several interesting sessions to discuss the role of cities and subnational governments. One of the main discussion priorities for ICLEI was to explore partnerships with local actors and other networks and initiatives that support local action and that can help shape pathways to be followed to support the implementation of all the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

On May 25th, ICLEI and the Committee of Regions (CoR) held a joint official side event on the topic “Accelerating the implementation of the Paris Agreement with the engagement of all levels of government”, which was facilitated by Susanne Nolden, Department of International Affairs and Global Sustainability, City of Bonn, Germany. Speakers and panelists represented our partners: the OECD, the City of Paris, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and the Netherlands in its capacity as EU Presidency in the first half of 2016. Having now obtained the recognition, engagement and empowerment of local and subnational governments (a highlight of the successfully concluded Local Government Climate Roadmap!), ICLEI’s Secretary General, Gino Van Begin, acknowledged the beginning of a new era which requires a focus on action and collaboration.

Expert opinions flew fast and furious on the panel, where Maryke van Staden, Manager of ICLEI’s global Low Carbon City Agenda, helped to set the scene by focusing on successes achieved towards and at the COP 21. She posed the question on how actors could better partner to raise ambition and accelerate action as time is short to scale up. First Vice President of the Committee of Regions, Karl Heinz Lambertz, presented the EU multi-level governance model and role of the CoR, asking if this model could also function elsewhere in the world and offering to share their lessons learned. The Climate Special Envoy from the Netherlands (also representing the EU Presidency and the Co‐Chair of Friends of Cities at the UNFCCC) made an interesting proposal for the COP22 in Morocco to be the “Solutions Bazaar” where practical matters and cooperation can be explored, highlighting the role of ICLEI and city networks to engage actively. The City of Paris, represented by Yann Francoise, Head of Climate and Energy Strategies, Parks and Environment Directorate, called for a global steady team of cities that are open to share experiences in a transparent way in order to gain credibility. He also brought up the need for diversifying financial sources, and highlighted the need to get more financing from the private sector. Posing an interesting teaser to all participants, Yann also invited the panel and participants to design what a city would look like to support the pathway to 1.5° Celsius. Last but not least, Dr. Tadashi Matsumoto, Senior Policy Analyst of the OECD offered a teaser by mentioning an OECD toolkit under development that will measure multi-level governance, which is crucial to the success of achieving the NDCs. The ICLEI briefing sheet on vertical integration outlines what multi-level governance could address – this is a “must read” for everyone working in this space!

Questions were asked on the role of the business sector and how to encourage their involvement. One example from ICLEI was for national governments to create an enabling framework by policy, for example on green public procurement that would require clean, green services and products to be rolled out. Cooperation with partners such as the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) in city-business activities is another way to explore cooperation on a wider scale between associations such as ICLEI and WBCSD.

Closing remarks by CoR and ICLEI emphasized the willingness and the need to collaborate and join efforts in order to scale up climate action and gain multiple benefits for all.

More information:

To support local and subnational governments, ICLEI has developed guidance and tools to support low emission development, which can be found here.

Resilience and climate change adaptation support is outlined here.