Cities and subnationals make their case for multilevel climate action at the kickoff of Daring Cities 2023

Daring Cities 2023 started with a bang with a hybrid two-day event alongside the UNFCCC Bonn Climate Talks (SB58) in Bonn, Germany this past week. Local leaders sat face-to-face with national negotiators to make the case for urban inclusion in national goals and implementation strategies, and our host City of Bonn celebrated entry into the group of MCR2030 global Resilience Hubs.  

For the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, local leaders and stakeholders were able to meet in person for a Daring Cities event. They came together for the Daring Cities 2023 Dialogues, a multi-day event hosted by ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability and the City of Bonn, Germany, alongside the UNFCCC Bonn Climate Talks, to kick off the overall Daring Cities 2023 event.

The Dialogues embodied the horizontal and vertical collaboration desperately needed at a greater scale worldwide to deliver just and equitable climate emergency response in our communities. Solutions-oriented sessions during the Virtual Forum will contextualize what was discussed in the Dialogues by providing real-life methods to further action on the ground.


This is what multilevel dialogue looks like

Representatives from local, regional and national governments, intergovernmental agencies, research institutions and broader civil society, actively exchanged on challenges and approaches to responding to the climate emergency in a just and equitable way. Cities leading in resilience work worldwide discussed how they can expand their work as role models and provide resources to other cities, towns and regions.

Mayors and other subnational leaders met with their UNFCCC national delegations for face-to-face dialogues to improve multilevel governance and collaboration within global climate action and processes, such as the Global Stocktake.

Bringing leaders together in person provided for a critical opportunity to dialogue directly with negotiators and stakeholders involved in the talks which are vital for building the outcomes of COP28 held later this year in Dubai, UAE.

HE Razan Al Mubarak, UN Climate Change High Level Champion, met with Daring Cities local and national leaders inside the UNFCCC, and emphasized the importance of the multilevel nature of this exchange. “I want to give clear recognition of the importance that cities and subnational governments play in delivery of the Marrakech Partnership, 2030 Breakthroughs, the Breakthrough Agenda and the Sharm el Sheikh Adaptation Agenda. I call on delegates gathered here today, to ensure that we can progress towards these outcomes and ensure that cities and subnational governments are embedded in COP28 outcomes and widely recognized for the transformative leadership that they are showing.”


Daring Cities turns four 

Daring Cities 2023 is the fourth meeting of Daring Cities, which has occurred annually since 2020. The heart of the event has always been acknowledging, celebrating and promoting localized commitments. For example, Makati City, Philippines, attended that first Daring Cities event. Since then they have declared a climate emergency and been recognized as an MCR2030 Resilience Hub. As Makati City’s Head of disaster risk reduction management Liza Vella Ramos stated, Makati City is “…a Daring City that takes bold aggressive climate action engaging the different stakeholders of the society”

ICLEI acts in the role of convenor of Daring Cities. As such, Gino Van Begin, ICLEI’s Secretary General, said, “At the kick-off of Daring Cities 2023 at the Bonn Climate Talks, we heard from cities around the world that are finding ways to prioritize a just and equitable response to climate change. They are on the front lines, but they are not turning away from the need to prioritize the most vulnerable. Daring cities learn from each other, inspire each other and motivate each other to move forward. We invite local and regional governments everywhere to join us throughout 2023 and be a part of this vibrant and change-making community.”


Paris was the turning point

The 2015 Paris Agreement was a pivotal moment for a change of mindset and landscape, not only for nations and their approach to climate change, but also for local and regional governments. Since then, thousands of local and regional governments have declared climate emergencies and committed to ambitious 2030 climate targets. Over 60 NDCs engaged local and regional governments and 86% have an urban component. We also have numerous examples, both inside and outside of the UNFCCC, of global decisions and resolutions directly referencing the role of cities and subnationals in raising climate ambition.

It’s in this spirit that Daring Cities 2023 Dialogues engaged in multilevel dialogues between local and national stakeholders during a closed meeting at the UN on Day 1. At this meeting of the Friends of Multilevel Action – a group of national delegations that actively support multilevel governance – delegates from the United States, Germany, India, Morocco, Costa Rica, Ivory Coast, Egypt and United Arab Emirates, met with Daring Cities representatives to discuss the expected agenda and outcomes of COP28, as well as updates at national and regional level.

During the SB58, other key outcomes included the announcement that the YOUNGO constituency will collaborate with ICLEI, as the LGMA Focal Point, in creating synergies between the Local Conference of Youth with local and regional Stocktake4ClimateEmergency Sessions and Human Settlements Task Force as part of the Sharm El Sheikh Adaptation Agenda.

We also see urbanization becoming a major part of other global processes, for example through the historic commitment this past April by G7 Ministers to convene a roundtable on subnational climate action in collaboration with U7, Parallel to the UNFCCC meetings in Bonn, the 2nd UN Habitat Assembly met in Nairobi, concluding with the first ever resolution on urbanization and climate change, sponsored by Egypt, Africa and Pakistan, which included a strong acknowledgement of the COP27 SURGe Initiative, recommended continuity of Ministerial meetings on Urbanization and Climate at upcoming UNFCCCCOPs, and encouraged engagement of local and regional governments in the NDCs.


Know more, act better, lead together

As part of the three Daring Cities pillars of Know – Act – Lead, Mayors and other subnational leaders had a closed door meeting to review an advance copy of the Global Sustainable Development Report 2023. Report co-author Imme Scholz presented the report, acknowledging urbanization as a transformative agenda as well as the challenges of delivering all the SDGs all at once and facing complexities of breakthroughs between old sectors/actors and emerging ones. She emphasized that cities are the best place to achieve this level of action.


Resilience continues to be at the heart of Daring Cities

The Making Cities Resilient 2030 (MCR2030) kicked off four years ago, at the first Daring Cities. MCR2030 is a global partnership of actors with expertise in urban resilience, DRR, climate change and the SDGs, providing a resilience roadmap for cities with defined commitments over time on how to improve local resilience. By 2030, MCR2030 aims to have an increasing number of cities committed to reducing local disaster/climate risk and building resilience.

Today, 23 cities have been recognized as global Resilience Hubs, and many more are part of the MCR2030 campaign. At Daring Cities, cities at every level of resilience action met at a special roundtable to explore how they could rally other cities around the world through new partnerships and mechanisms and through developing a campaign to capacitate Resilience Hubs. Daring Cities 2023 host Bonn was recognized as a Global Resilience Hub as well.


What we expect in Dubai

With each week and month that passes, cities, regions, towns and their national representatives have more tools to connect local action to their NDCs. This means that multilevel governance really will be the new normal.

ICLEI’s Global Advocacy Director Yunus Arikan said, “From COP28 onwards, we should be counting and calling out the NDCs that have not yet engaged subnationals. Tools such as SURGe, Race to Resilience, Race to Zero, and the Urbanization and Climate Ministerials at COPs must be used to define exactly what multilevel engagement is. This is one of the key messages that we will be bringing to the next part of Daring Cities 2023, to COP28 and beyond.”

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