Latin American cities rally in unprecedented line-up of events as UN cancels regional climate week

In its Quarterly Report 2024, the UNFCCC confirmed that this year’s Regional Climate Weeks, including the Latin America and Caribbean Climate Week, have been canceled until further notice due to “lack of funding.” These regional climate weeks are seen as crucial for promoting multilateral partnerships and coordination, fostering innovative approaches, and uniting efforts to tackle the distinct challenges and needs of different regions. Their cancellation is therefore concerning since, without these regional events, this year’s COP29 in Baku, Azerbaijan, risks lacking regional dimensions.

Contrasting this lack of mobilization “from above,” an unprecedented line-up of events and meetings is taking place in Latin America “from below.” There, local and regional governments are, in fact, advancing their own ‘regional dialogues,’ supported by many organizations like ICLEI.

Belém, Brazil, particularly, becomes a beacon for regional and global climate discussions. Eighteen months ahead of the Climate COP the city will host, Belém saw a strong commitment and unity of Brazilian, Amazonian and Latin American Mayors, as well as other subnational leaders, for a successful COP30 that connects climate-nature-land, putting people at its heart. Moreover, the active support and leadership from Brazil’s Minister of Cities Jader Filho, as well as the participation of the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Technology, positioned the Brazilian Federal Government as a pioneer in implementing multilevel action, also pursuant to their endorsement to the COP28 CHAMP initiative.

In parallel to these efforts, ICLEI is helping prepare Brazilian (and South American) municipalities to take an active role in regional and global climate processes, advocating for inclusive and effective climate policies that resonate with the diverse needs of urban populations.

Below are several significant concurrent events held this month in “Belém’s Climate Week”:

  1. Ministerial Meeting of the Amazon Countries of the Forum of Housing and Urbanism of Latin America and the Caribbean | 15 April: Composed of Ministers of state and government authorities, the meeting was dedicated to promoting coordination and cooperation between countries, especially on issues related to the sustainable development of human settlements.
  2. Working meeting of the Amazon Cities Forum | 16 April: Newly established by the Inter-American Development Bank, this forum sought to tailor urban policies to the unique needs of the Amazon, promoting sustainable development across the region’s cities through enhanced cooperation.
  3. 3rd ICLEI Brazil national meeting | 16-17 April: This event took place under the theme “The Protagonism of Local and Regional Governments in the Climate Agenda.” By fostering a multisectoral dialogue among municipal, state, and federal authorities, as well as influential voices from academia and civil society, the meeting underscored the urgent need for effective, collaborative action on climate issues.
  4. XXIX national meeting of the forum of secretaries of the environment of Brazilian capitals (CB27) | 16 April: This forum fostered robust intermunicipal collaboration and sharing of sustainable practices, with a particular focus on financing sustainable development.
  5. UrbanShift Latin America Forum | 16-19 April: As part of the UrbanShift global initiative and in partnership with C40 cities, the UN Environment Programme, and the World Resources Institute, this forum explores innovative strategies to finance urban sustainability and climate adaptation efforts across Latin American cities. ICLEI experts are leading two in-person trainings based on the online UrbanShift City Academy; “Accessing urban climate finance” and “Circular economy strategies for sustainable development.”
  6. Gap Fund step up project activity | 16 April: This collaborative workshop bolstered urban infrastructure projects in key cities, enhancing their readiness for investment and sustainable development.
  7. First ICLEI South America Regional Executive Committee working meeting | 16 April: This inaugural meeting of the newly elected ICLEI Regional Committee (RexCom) Members outlined strategic initiatives aimed at reinforcing local governance and sustainable development across the continent.

Each of these events was designed to catalyze action and facilitate the exchange of knowledge and best practices among cities, aligning local efforts with global climate goals. As these pivotal discussions unfold in Belém, their outcomes have the potential to influence not only national policies but also contribute significantly to global sustainability dialogues, ensuring that local actions resonate on a global scale and bring about tangible environmental, social, and economic benefits. ICLEI will convey these outcomes at the upcoming UNFCCC Bonn Climate Conference (SB60) on 3-13 June and Daring Cities 2024 on 3-5 June, as well as feeding them into the Local Governments and Municipal Authorities Constituency (LGMA)‘s “roadmap towards COP29 and COP30,” to be announced at the ICLEI World Congress in São Paulo on 18-21 June.

Ambitious, inclusive and multilevel outcomes of COP28 opened a new era in global climate regime but the real success will depend on how these commitments will turn into national climate plans and actions by COP30. The enthusiasm and strong commitment to preserve the Amazon and its people shows that Brazil is committed to transform COP30 to a “people’s COP” – a goal that could reignite the spirit of Earth Summit in Rio in 1992 for an inclusive transformation to global sustainability.