Flagship Event on Cities and Regions: The Globalization of the Covenant of Mayors

On 8 December 2015, the European Commission and European Committee of the Regions organized a session entitled “Flagship Event on Cities and Regions: The Globalization of the Covenant of Mayors” in the European Union Pavilion at COP21. During the event, local leaders presented their experiences in mitigating and adapting to the effects of climate change.

Maroš Šefčovič, Vice President of the European Commission, opened the session with positive remarks regarding the future of low-carbon development. “There is an unprecedented global movement to take climate change seriously,” Šefčovič  stated, but with further action is needed national governments, regions and local authorities. Šefčovič called on cities to present plans that are more ambitious than national-level efforts and work toward a higher level of transparency and accountability.

The Committee of the Regions President, Markku Markkula remarked that “states cannot act alone” in tackling climate change. “At the local level,” Markkula stated, “we see innovative thinking on climate policy that is making the difference. Cities and regions are the answer to the climate and energy challenge.”

James Nxumalo, Mayor of Durban, South Africa and Vice President of ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability joined the first panel of local leaders to discuss climate action in Durban. Mayor Nxumalo explained the challenges posed by an increasing number of informal settlements occupied by migrants. These settlements lack basic infrastructure for reliable water, electricity and sanitation and are highly vulnerable to the climate change impacts. The City of Durban aims to address this issue through efforts such as community-based afforestation, through which the city has hired hundreds of citizens to help restore the ecosystem, which creates employment and connects people with their natural surroundings.

The City of Nairobi, Kenya is also taking strides in the area of climate and energy, partnering with the private sector to capitalize on the abundant solar resources. Jonathan Mueke, Deputy Governor and Head of Delegation, Nairobi City County reported that the municipality has reduced energy consumption by 30 percent by moving to LED lighting – a move that is particularly impactful in streetlighting, which consumes of a substantial amount of energy. The city has also taken steps to legislate more efficient energy use, requiring that all new residential buildings have solar water heating and encouraging smart buildings that effective conserve energy.

Matt Appelbaum, Mayor of Boulder, United States and member of the ICLEI Regional Executive Committee for North America, joined the second panel to discuss mitigation efforts. Appelbaum explained that Boulder has more stringent codes for energy efficiency in buildings as compared to national standards. The mayor also recognizes the strength of city networks such as the Covenant of Mayors, the Compact of Mayors and ICLEI for sharing best practices, promoting transparency and strengthening national lobbying.  Mayor Appelbaum expressed particular interest in changing outdated federal energy regulations that prevent renewable entrepreneurs from selling to consumers in Colorado, and the lobbying power enabled through these networks can help cities gain authority from states and federal government and allow for higher levels of innovation.

Full List of Speakers

Opening Session

Fernando Frutuoso de Melo, Director General, DEVCO, European Commission
Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President of the European Commission
Markku Markkula, President of the European Committee of the Regions

Energy Access and Efficiency Panel

Fernando Frutuoso de Melo, Director General, DEVCO, European Commission
James Nxumalo, ICLEI Vice-President and Mayor of Durban
Johanna Rolland, President, Nantes Metropole
Jonathan Mueke, Deputy Governor and Head of Delegation, Nairobi City County
Moussa Sy, Second Deputy Mayor, Dakar City Council
Célestine Ketcha Courtes, Mayor of Bangangté

Mitigation Panel

Michael Köhler, DG NEAR, European Commission
Philippe Couillard, Prime Minister of Quebec, Canada
Matt Appelbaum, Mayor of Boulder Colorado, USA
Nouha Ghosseini, Mayor of Baaqline, Lebanon
Bernard Soulage, Co-Chair of World Summit Climate and Territories Steering Committee

Adaptation Panel

Jos Delbeke, Director General CLIMA, European Commission
Francesco Pigliaru, President of the region of Sardinia, Italy
Grigol Lazriev, UNFCCC National Focal Point of Georgia
Masaaki Kobayashi, Vice Minister, Ministry of the Environment, Japan (tbc)
Gonzalo Durán, Mayor of Independencia, Chile

Concluding Remarks

Kata Tüttő, European Committee of the Regions’ rapporteur on the Covenant of Mayors, Councillor of Budapest
Camille Gira, Secretary of State Sustainable Development, Luxemburg, EU Presidency


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