Beyond the hype: ICLEI’s experts reveal their COP28 expectations

As the world counts down to COP28, more than 70,000 worldwide delegates set to converge in Dubai from November 30 to December 12.  We’ve turned the spotlight on fourteen members of ICLEI’s international team of experts, by asking them to share their insights on why they are going to COP, what they want to achieve, and what their hopes are for cities and regions at this year’s forum.

This group is bringing a diverse set of regional expertise and professional experience. Spoiler alert: ICLEI’s team is aligned on the power of multilevel action and the groundbreaking role cities and regions will play at the first-ever Local Climate Action Summit.


Yunus Arikan, Director of Global Advocacy, ICLEI World Secretariat:

“I come to COP28 full of hope – with multilevel action as the new normal, we finally are seeing a way to fulfill the promise of the Paris Agreement.”








Rohit Sen, Head of Sustainable Energy, ICLEI World Secretariat:

“We are advocating for a quick shift to renewables in cities. Our aim is global collaboration, innovative strategies, and increased use of renewables for carbon-neutral, resilient, and eco-friendly urban environments.”








Eszter Mogyorósy, Head Innovative Finance, ICLEI World Secretariat:

“The Local Climate Action summit gives us a unique opportunity to unlock and catalyze finance for the development and implementation of sustainable local projects. To amplify this, ICLEI in collaboration with UNCDF is launching the City Bridge Facility, a fund to fill local infrastructure financing gaps in developing countries, by providing reimbursable finance for their cities in local currency.”




Bráulio Diaz, Institutional Relations and Advocacy Manager, ICLEI South America Secretariat:

“This COP28 consolidates a process to position a municipal vision that highlights the enormous challenges for urban implementation of global commitments. I’m honored to witness Latin America’s growing leadership from the ICLEI South America office.”





Togo Uchida, Executive Director, ICLEI Japan Office:

“We’re attending COP to exchange knowledge about subnational and local government responses to the climate crisis. Given diverse city sizes and locations, we need to learn quickly and apply lessons to improve plan execution. Post-COP, we aim for local governments to better and faster deliver concrete outcomes.”






Kale Roberts, Senior Program Officer, LGMA coordinator, ICLEI USA Office:

“This is the most important COP for local governments since Paris — and I’m excited to be supporting nearly 30 U.S. mayors and local leaders to attend COP28. We will show how cities and counties across the United States are cutting methane emissions, ending coal power once and for all, halting deforestation by 2030, and modeling multilevel collaboration to achieve the country’s NDC.”





Goksen Sahin, Senior Advocacy Officer, ICLEI European Secretariat:

“Our window of opportunity to tackle the climate crisis is closing faster than ever. We must secure climate ambition, finance, and a just global transition. Local and regional governments, on the frontline of climate impacts, are key players. I attend COP28 to advocate for multilevel governance structures, accelerating climate action and Paris Agreement implementation.”




Dania Petrik, Climate Change, Energy & Resilience Officer, ICLEI Africa Secretariat:

“I am excited to be attending COP28 in my capacity as the lead for Cities Race to Resilience and Subnational engagement for the Climate Champions team. I believe it will be an auspicious year for recognizing the driving force of cities, states, and regions in the climate crisis. Through their efforts, they’re propelling action to achieve the objectives of the 2030 Breakthrough (mitigation-focused) and Sharm El Sheikh (adaptation-focused) Agendas, under the Marrakesh Partnership. With the support of the COP Presidency, events like the Local Climate Action Summit and Urbanisation and Climate Ministerial Meeting offer a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to really showcase and elevate the work of local and subnational governments. I am hopeful that – for the first time – subnational governments will be incorporated into the formal climate COP text, for example, in Nationally Determined Contributions revisions and global climate action processes such as the Global Stocktake.”


Peter Defranceschi, Global CityFood Program Coordinator, ICLEI European Secretariat:

“As ICLEI’s Global Food Program Coordinator, I want to push for a stronger strategic link between climate, food, and nature. I plan to speak often, including the co-organized session by ICLEI CityFood and C40, on city leadership on food and climate. I am also excited to do a TED talk on CityFood at the Expo City Farm. I hope Dubai proves to be a game changer, particularly with COP dedicating a Food Day daily. Food systems contribute significantly to GHG emissions and I hope food becomes part of national climate action commitments by COP30. Overall, I hope that local governments get closer to the negotiation table where only national governments sit, to counter fossil influence and track progress. Drastic needs require drastic structural changes! We can’t keep calling for multi-level governance for another ten years!”


Ge Liu, Strategic Manager, ICLEI East Asia Secretariat:

“I’m attending COP to support ICLEI’s efforts as the LGMA Constituency focal point. At the regional level, I’m working with local governments and ministries in China to organize side events at the China Pavilion, which for the first time will display five different cities’ and provinces’ local actions. I hope this motivates more Chinese local governments to drive change!”





Soumya Chaturvedula, Deputy Director, South Asia Secretariat:

“I want to support cities and sub-national governments in showcasing their climate ambition. I hope for national governments to clarify Loss and Damage fund modalities, facilitating easier access for sub-national governments. I’m closely watching the nations, multilateral and bilateral agencies, sanguine that climate funding pledges abound. I’m also following technology development and transfer.”


Meggan Spires, Director Climate Change, Energy & Resilience, ICLEI Africa Secretariat:

“In 2050, a quarter of the world’s population will live in Africa. Africa’s ability to tackle climate change is central to global solutions. Hundreds of African cities have developed progressive climate change plans. What is needed now? Finance. My hope for COP28 is that tangible progress is made on how cities can gain direct access to the climate finance they need. Only then can the transformative action that is urgently needed happen.”




Pourya Salehi, Head Urban Research, Innovation, and Development, ICLEI World Secretariat

“At COP28, my mission is fueled by the imperative for transformative action in the face of the climate emergency and sustainable development, and my objectives encompass showcasing impactful Research and innovation as well as Research and development endeavors undertaken collaboratively by ICLEI, our Members, and partners. I’m helping cities and regions advocate for system-level transformation and agenda-setting innovation based on a human needs approach. Additionally, I’m committed to fostering connections with a diverse spectrum of stakeholders, contributing to the global discourse on climate and innovation, and advocating for the pivotal role of cities in the climate arena. I aim to ensure their voices resonate in international dialogues, shaping critical processes from scientific endeavors like IPCC AR7 to capacity-building discussions and broader implementation agendas.”

Arif Wibowo, Country Manager, ICLEI Indonesia Office:

“Attending COP28 is an important platform to highlight the climate vulnerabilities permeating local contexts. Cities in the global south, including Indonesian cities, are among the most hard-hit by the impacts of the climate emergency. But while they are the most vulnerable, cities are also the birthplace of innovative climate solutions and truly inspiring grassroots climate action. Therefore, strengthening the pathway for robust collaboration with national and international partners and mobilizing climate finance is critical in enabling cities to lead the way in this climate emergency.”

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