A Cities and Regions Guide to COP27

Everything your city or region needs to know about this year’s global climate event and driving multilevel climate action during and beyond the conference.

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Cities and regions are in Sharm El Sheikh, for the 27th United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP27). Across the two weeks, the Local Governments and Municipal Authorities (LGMA) constituency, as the official representative of cities and regions to the UNFCCC, will support a delegation of more than 500 — including more than 100 mayors, councilors, governors and other local leaders — to bring the voice of local governments from around the world to Egypt.

While at COP27, these leaders will find a home in the Multilevel Action Pavilion, the LGMA’s pavilion space in the Blue Zone at COP27, hosted by the Scottish Government, in collaboration with the COP27 Presidency, the Egyptian Ministry of Housing, the Marrakech Partnership and LGMA Partners. This space comprises an important portion of our efforts, hosting more than 70 events by over 25 partners.

In addition to the packed agenda of the Multilevel Action Pavilion, our leaders will contribute to programs across dozens of nation-level and partner pavilions, in UNFCCC plenary rooms, and the COP27 Presidency program. In all spaces, our LGMA leaders will have their work cut out for them.

Our four-point advocacy agenda for COP27—enhanced NDCs through multilevel action, addressing unfinished business, welcoming the first Climate & Urbanization Ministerial, and empowering Africa and the MENA Region—invites recognition that our world is in a climate emergency mode, and multilevel action is ready to deliver in response.

This guide provides you with an overview for what’s at stake in Egypt from an urban practitioners’ perspective, including cities and regions’ advocacy priorities at COP27, key moments to watch out for, and a call to action for nations and cities alike to take up.

What is the LGMA?

At the Earth Summit in 1992, nine stakeholder groups, including local authorities, were designated as essential partners in society for the implementation of the global sustainability agenda. The Local Governments and Municipal Authorities (LGMA) Constituency has represented local and regional governments at the processes under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) since the first Conference of Parties (COP) in 1995.

ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability acts as the LGMA Focal Point and on behalf of the Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments, a joint global policy advocacy initiative representing the major international networks of local governments. The LGMA brings the voices of cities, regions, towns, and counties to what are historically deemed national-level negotiations.


What the LGMA is Calling For at COP27

The LGMA constituency is bringing a four-point advocacy agenda to Egypt aimed at moving the world into implementation mode for the Paris Agreement,

  1. Enhance national climate plans through multilevel action. In addition to more than 60 nations bringing stepped-up NDCs supported by local government action, more than 1,000 local governments are proceeding toward climate neutrality through initiatives such as the Race-To-Zero, Race-To-Resilience, and Thematic Climate Action Pathways. For COP27, we will link-up the multilevel approach with more nations.
  2. Address unfinished business and open climate emergency mode. Several key areas of work remain unfinalized: Food, nature, adaptation, culture, finance (particularly Article 6.8 of the Paris Agreement), circular economy, 1.5-degree C lifestyles, blue economy, buildings, mobility, waste & consumption, and more need work to usher in the “climate emergency mode” that the word needs. The LGMA will bring these issues — plus climate migration, and loss and damage — to COP27.
  3. Support the first-ever Climate & Urbanization Ministerial. We will work to institute this theme into all agendas of the UNFCCC and ensure the Climate & Urbanization Ministerial continues as an annual fixture at the COPs.
  4. Empower Africa, Mediterranean and MENA Regions. Egypt has always existed at a unique crossroads connecting the African continent, Mediterranean, and Middle East & North Africa (MENA) regions. As every COP is a regional mobilization, we will use this COP to elevate the voices and roles of the nations and people operating in these regions.


How DId We Get to This Moment?

Whereas Glasgow proved last year that the #Time4MultilevelAction has come, the LGMA will show at COP27 that #MultievelActionDelivers.

Multilevel NDCs.  Indeed, on the road to Glasgow, more than 60 nations submitted more ambitious Paris climate plans — known as national determined contributions (NDCs) — predicated, in part, on the fact that their national climate commitments could be more ambitious because local governments were taking strong action.

Multilevel in the Paris Agreement. As a key success for the LGMA, the preamble of the Paris Agreement now recognizes all levels of government are instrumental to securing a 1.5-degree future. However, the Glasgow Climate Pact left many with mixed feelings. While it shows a promising commitment to multilevel collaboration in the next phase of the Paris Agreement, it failed to encapsulate the “emergency mode” that the climate crisis necessitates.

G7 engagement. Meanwhile, the seven large global economies in the G7 opened pathways for greater urban engagement this year, under Germany’s leadership. Known as the Urban7, or U7, the cities and regions constituency gained increasing contributions in the G7. Signs of strengthened engagement are showing, as the Government of Japan takes over the G7 leadership for 2023 and is expected to bring important urban-engagement announcements to COP27 in a session part of the Multilevel Action Pavilion.

Climate and urban communities come together. ICLEI and the LGMA first called for a ministerial that would bring the climate and urban communities together 10 years ago. At COP19 in Warsaw, steps toward this request brought the climate community together with environmental ministers. This was progress, but still urban ministers remained siloed from the process.

COP27 is a turning point to break down these siloes, with the first-ever Climate & Urbanization Ministerial convened by UN-Habitat on 17 November and including LGMA leaders in the program.


A Call to Action for Cities and Regions at COP27

Every COP brings its own challenges and new opportunities. To elevate the voices of cities and regional governments, the LGMA advances a cities and regions advocacy agenda around our four building blocks above..

But just as each COP is a renewed opportunity for action, we maintain flexibility in our building blocks to adjust as we meet certain achievements. This was the case in the 2021-2022 timeframe, given the outcomes from Glasgow and strong recognition by the Egyptian government for the power of urban sustainability to address the climate emergency head on.

Given this accelerating progress, the LGMA must be nimble with our approach. Leading to COP27, we have consolidated our four building blocks into three actionable proposals.

  1. Endorse the Sustainable Urban Resilience for the Next Generation (SURGe) Initiative, a multilevel climate governance initiative, focused on five tracks: buildings and housing; urban energy; urban waste/consumption; urban mobility; and urban water.
  2. Welcome the first-ever UNFCCC COP27 Ministerial Meeting on Urbanization and Climate Change.
  3. Mobilize Climate Emergency Finance to accelerate implementation of the Paris Agreement, including recognition of sustainable urbanization as a non-market mechanism under the Art 6.8, engaging subnational development banks, addressing loss-and-damage, and supporting project pipeline facilities.

These actions have been championed by Mayor Sharon Dijksma of Utrecht and ICLEI/LGMA Special Envoy to COP27 as a Call To Action that governments at all levels are invited to support. Importantly, these actions are equally for nations as for local and subnational governments.

The drumbeat of progress for our constituency has continued for at least a decade. With recent successes, we see that the time for multilevel action has truly come. It is up to us to move the world, through collaboration across levels of government, into full Paris Agreement implementation mode. Nations should see cities and regions as their strongest partners. Our call for COP27 should be one shared among countries with their cities: Multilevel action delivers.

This blog was written by Yunus Arikan, Kale Roberts, and Matteo Bizzotto from ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability.

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