Outlook: All Roads Lead to Paris (Via All Other Cities)

This post is part of our live blog series from the Resilient Cities 2015 congress. For more live blogs, please click here.

150610_outlook1With the COP21 in Paris swiftly approaching, climate was the overarching theme of the outlook plenary of the Resilient Cities 2015 congress – just as it has been throughout the conference, influencing the many fruitful discussions, presentations, and personal meetings. And for good reasons. As Heather McGray (Director, Vulnerability & Adaptation Initiative, World Resources Institute) noted:

“All different Paris outcome scenarios are still on the table, good and bad. We hope that the actual outcome will mean that cities can finally allocate more of our energy to real on-the-ground action, but this is far from certain. All city representatives should therefore now go back home and persuade your national governments to act.”

Yunus Arikan (Head of Global Policy and Advocacy, ICLEI) agreed, but with a twist. Arikan pointed out that, given the chosen approach of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, it is already abundantly clear that, come what may in Paris, cities will still have their work cut out for them:

“The climate negotations will leave much room open for us, cities, to take the lead. We will go to Paris and be very clear about how climate action for us is a race to the top, not the bottom. Cities in general and ICLEI in particular have always been one step ahead of the climate talks, always stepping in when countries do not deliver.”

So, as we leave Bonn for this time, cities can and must continue to take the lead so as to close the loop of climate action and connect the dots with other challenges for cities – that is, for humanity. Let us see to it that our local action for sustainability speaks louder than words.

On a personal note, I want to say that I am deeply impressed with the gender ratio (52% women) and the geographic distribution (22% Europeans, but global representation) of conference participants. However, more participating youth could lend crucial additional perspectives and new ideas.

Finally, thank you all for a great conference and for doing all that you do to build resilient cities and to boldly, restlessly combat our intertwined global challenges.

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