On 7 December 2015, ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability and United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) cohosted a Blue Zone side event on behalf of the Compact of Mayors Management Committee. The event provided a forum through which Compact committed and compliant cities could report on their achievements, update negotiators on Compact activities since its launch in 2014 and highlight the role of local and subnational governments in raising the level of global climate ambition.
The session began with opening remarks from members of the Compact of Management Committee. Gino van Begin, Secretary General of ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, began the discussion by explaining that the Compact aims to capture the impact of cities on climate change through standardized measurement of climate actions and risks as well as consistent and transparent reporting.
Amanda Eichel of Bloomberg Philanthropies explained the unique value of the Compact of Mayors in that it builds on existing initiatives such as the Local Government Climate Roadmap or the Durban Adaptation Charter and collects them in a single place. The Compact also helps cities demonstrate their leadership and increase their visibility by using standardized measurement and reporting tools as an essential asset.
The Compact has four phases toward compliance, as Seth Schultz, Director of Research, Management and Planning at C40 explained. The first phase involves the commitment, followed by a citywide greenhouse gas inventory in the second phase. The third step is for cities to set goals and targets for mitigation and adaptation before establishing a climate action plan that lays out actions the city will undertake to meet those goals. The Compact of Mayors also has a number of tools that support Compact committed cities achieve the four phases. This includes ClearPath , a tool that helps cities develop greenhouse gas inventories and identify goals and targets as well as CURB and CRAFT and Compact of Mayors reporting platforms – the carbonn Climate Registry and CDP.
Natalene Poisson of UCLG explained that the Compact of Mayors is also a tool in itself. The Compact can help networks reach members that not fully environmentally sensitized and aware of the need to act on climate change.
The first panel of mayors came to the stage to discuss their experiences as Compact cities and commitment to climate action at home. Frank Cownie, Mayor of Des Moines, United States began by highlighting the tremendous momentum that exists for climate action and the Compact of Mayors in the United States. Prior to COP21, President Barack Obama asked US mayors to commit to the Compact of Mayors, which now has more than 100 committed cities.
“Mayors from the United States have proudly stepped up on the area of climate and have come together nationally and brought a sizable delegation to this COP,” Mayor Cownie explained. He and other US mayors are hopeful they to move the agenda forward, and not only work with our local leaders in US but share ideas with other cities around the world.
Stephanie Tan, Mayor of Catbalogan in the Philippines emphasized the fact that her city is at the front line of disaster. Catbalogan is a coastal city that highly vulnerable to storms, experiencing five super typhoons each year. Given this context as well as the rapid rate of urbanization, it is critical for cities in the Philippines to act on climate change. The Compact of Mayors was recently launched in the Philippines – an important signal of their readiness.
Cities in Latin America are also experience a rapid rate of urbanization. Carlos Amastha, Mayor of Palmas, Brazil explained that almost 80 percent of people live in cities, and 65 percent live in middle cities with 1,000 to 5,000 inhabitants. This means that if middle cities are given adequate support and work toward 100 percent renewable energy, the climate change problem will become progressively less problematic.
James Nxumalo, Mayor of Durban, South Africa and Hong-mo WU, Deputy Mayor of Kaohsiung, Chinese Taipei also presented their experiences on this panel as Compact compliant cities – Kaohsiung as the first Compact compliant city in East Asia.
Following the first panel of Compact leaders, Sharon Dijksma, Minister for Environment in the Netherlands remarked that cities also want to take action and that their impact on climate has tremendous potential – not only in terms of emissions reductions but also an incentive to others. It is important that cities show their ambitions and achievements through initiatives such as the Compact of Mayors and that they are recognized through the negotiations.
The next panel of mayors included Tikender Parwar, Deputy Mayor of Shimla, India, who explained that his city aims to become carbon neutral by strengthening already stringent laws on afforestation and banning car purchases. He noted that there is room for more South Asian cities to commit to Compact of Mayors as part of moving towards stronger sustainability.
Mayor George Ferguson of Bristol, UK has been active in promoting the role of cities, and that cooperation is the way forward. Working with the Compact of Mayors and Convent of Mayors enables cities to align and be more thorough in their reporting. The City of Bristol is heading toward full compliance with the Compact, which, as Ferguson described, “is an extremely important tool to enable us to plan for real change.”
Arron Wood, Councillor of Melbourne, Austria views the Compact of Mayors as embodying a strong spirit of information sharing, collaboration and inspiration. Australia was the only nation in world to remove a working carbon price, which was a step backward in terms of climate. Through ICLEI, the Compact and other networks of cities, Melbourne and other Australian cities get the inspiration to go further.
Ronan Dantec, French Senator and UCLG Climate Spokesperson concluded the panel by noting the importance of the Compact of Mayors in building credibility to leverage investments in cities of all sizes.
Dr. Joan Clos, Executive Director of UN-Habitat concluded the session by praising the Compact as an important agreement between many different mayors across the world in supporting the stabilization and improvement of climate change. As it moves ahead, Clos noted, the Compact of Mayors must tell the truth about sustainability issues on the planet.
About the Compact of Mayors
The Compact of Mayors was launched by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and his Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change, Michael R. Bloomberg, under the leadership of the world’s global city networks – C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40), ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI) and the United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) –with support from UN-Habitat, the UN’s lead agency on urban issues. The Compact establishes a common platform to capture the impact of cities’ collective actions through standardized measurement of emissions and climate risk, and consistent, public reporting of their efforts.
Featured image courtesy of IISD Reporting Services.