Reflecting on how to elevate the momentum on multilevel climate action beyond COP28

Wrapping up Daring Cities’ 2024 Cornerstone I “Reflect,” two in-depth webinars gathered local leaders and climate representatives to discuss past climate initiatives, especially those stemming from COP28. Here, we share their insights exploring how cities and regions can leverage COP28 outcomes, particularly the CHAMP initiative, as we move forward to the upcoming COPs in Baku and Belém.

From putting the Loss and Damage fund in motion, tripling renewables and doubling energy efficiency, to the unprecedented call to transition away from fossil fuels, COP28 sent a powerful signal to tackle the world’s core climate challenges. It also opened the doors for discussions outside the formal climate negotiations, including new commitments to create sustainable food and health systems, protect forests, and more. “COP28 led us to a new momentum for climate action, setting ambitious targets by addressing the root causes of the climate crisis”, stated Katja Dörner, Mayor of Bonn, Germany, and ICLEI Global Executive Committee Member.

With the first-ever Global Stocktake concluding at COP28, much of the discussions and aftermath outcomes that built the UAE Consensus revolved around a staggering reality: We are falling short of achieving the Paris Agreement’s goals to limit global temperatures to 1.5 °C within reach.

Asif Nawaz Shah, COP28 Presidency Subnational Engagement Lead, said, The reason why the outcome of the Global Stocktake was significant was not because it showed us that we were falling short, but because it galvanized the international community to produce a road map to recalibrate and correct that trajectory.”

How do we move from a world falling short to one that successfully follows through? And what does this imply for cities and regions?

Uplifting multilevel action

“Action is always stronger when it’s collaborative, and this is nowhere more applicable than when it comes to climate action,” said Asif Nawaz Shah. 

Through the first Local Climate Action Summit and the second Ministerial Meeting on Urbanization and Climate Change, and the traditional LGMA mobilization with its base at the Multilevel Action and Urbanization Pavilion, local and subnational governments played a key role in Dubai, with the outcomes of COP28 UAE Consensus urging for multilevel action.

This is particularly reflected in paragraph 161 of the COP28 Global Stocktake decision that urges Parties to engage in inclusive, multilevel, gender-responsive cooperative action, as well as in other relevant paragraphs of the UAE Consensus, providing direction for the next round of Nationally determined contributions (NDCs) due in 2025.

Jamila El Mir, Senior Adviser to COP28 High-Level Champion H.E. Razan Mubarak warned, “We are on a deadline to submit updated NDCs by COP30. The multilevel action agenda is very keen on translating this urgency into NDC commitments, ensuring they aren’t lost through the hype of a COP or a local climate summit. Integrating multilevel governance into action guarantees effective implementation of climate transition plans—our collective mission this year leading up to COP30.”

This inclusive, multilevel approach is critical for achieving progress toward the Paris Agreement goals, raising the imperative to advocate for even more concerted action at all levels of governance.

“When discussing multilevel governance, we refer to both vertical integration across tiers of government and horizontal engagement encompassing various sectors, including different ministries, the private sector, civil society -including indigenous people and youth- and academia,” explained Dania Petrik, Cities Engagement Manager of the UNFCCC High-Level Climate Champions Team.

CHAMP initiative: Elevating cities as partners in climate action

COP28’s multilevel action spirit is embedded in the DNA of the Coalition for High Ambition Multilevel Partnerships (CHAMP) initiative, launched by the COP28 Presidency. 72 countries have endorsed CHAMP, committing to enhance cooperation with their local, regional and other subnational governments – including cities, towns, states and regions – to collectively pursue efforts on NDCs’ planning, financing and implementation.

“As the Vice President of the German Association of Cities, I advocated for CHAMP and was pleased to see Germany endorse the initiative that positions cities as active partners in climate action. However, the true achievements of COP28, particularly CHAMP, will only show in 2025,” reflected Mayor Dörner.

Abi Binay, Mayor of Makati, Philippines, and ICLEI Global Executive Committee Member, added, “CHAMP is a transformative initiative and a critical facilitator offering Makati City a platform to influence national and international strategies ensuring our innovative solutions and local success stories resonate on a global scale. CHAMP serves as a conduit for accessing vital resources; it opens doors to financial, technical, and knowledge-sharing networks, all vital for implementing our climate mitigation and adaptation strategies effectively.” 

Now, the task for cities and regions is building momentum for CHAMP, ensuring its longevity not only up to COP30 but also well into the future.

“This isn’t a time-bound initiative. The principles of multilevel partnerships and governance enshrined in it are applicable beyond the 2025 NDCs and may be transferable to other multilateral processes and environmental conventions. That’s why we need to ensure a steady drumbeat of promotion and support for CHAMP,” highlighted Agathe Caviccioli, Deputy Director of the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy (GCoM).

The call for sustained support for CHAMP, echoes the urgency to enhance urban mitigation efforts, emphasizing the necessity of continuous action. “We are tasked with scaling up mitigation ambition to complement the global stocktake and strengthen the COP28 outcomes. This year, our focus on cities, buildings, and urban systems demands a concerted effort to reduce emissions. This approach ensures that our cities of the future are resilient and fit for purpose to minimize emissions,” emphasized Lola Vallejo and Dr. Amr Abdel-Aziz, Co-Chairs of the UNFCCC Sharm El Sheikh Mitigation Ambition and Implementation Work Programme.

Yunus Arikan, ICLEI’s Director of Global Advocacy and the focal point of the LGMA Constituency, added, “Having these discussions a year before COP30, while nations are still refining their strategies, presents an excellent opportunity to ensure seamless alignment between local ambition, national plans, and financing. This process highlights the beauty of collaboration and coordination, and we are committed to maximizing its potential in the coming months.”

Looking ahead: Daring Cities 2024 is powering collective action to respond to the climate emergency 

Subnational governments must foster direct engagement with national governments who have endorsed CHAMP to gather input on their commitments. This action will help them identify areas where local contributions are needed to swiftly and effectively implement concrete strategies for submitting enhanced NDCs. 

This is precisely what Daring Cities offers. In the words of Mayor Dörner, “Daring Cities is a supportive platform fostering collaboration between national and subnational governments to accelerate and stocktake the implementation of ambitious, inclusive and multilevel climate action.”

Wrapping up Daring Cities Cornerstone I, “Reflect,” the event transitions into Cornerstone II, “Exchange.”  Through the Daring Cities 2024 Bonn Dialogues and Virtual Forum, we’re leading the implementation of historic COP28 UAE outcomes on multilevel climate action and linking the climate agenda to sustainable urbanization.

Significant milestones will shape this year’s Daring Cities Bonn Dialogues from 3 to 5 June, alongside the Bonn Talks, including a CHAMP Endorsers Roundtable convening endorsers, UNFCCC leaders, and strategic partners to guide CHAMP implementation toward COP30. In addition, a Plenary on Multilevel Action will feature the first-ever joint public dialogue with COP28 and COP29 High-Level Champions, UN and national leaders, CHAMP endorsers, and mayors. Further discussions will focus on NDCs submission, just transitions, the upcoming IPCC Report on Cities and Climate, and fostering synergies between climate, nature, and land.

From August to October, the Daring Cities Virtual Forum will spotlight Town Hall COPs as an innovative mechanism linking climate emergency action to national and global efforts. Additionally, it will promote a holistic and integrated approach by exploring interconnected factors like food and nature within urban policies.

“It is crucial to keep up our continued ambition and diligence in our dedicated work to shape the future of our cities, towns and regions for 2030 and beyond. Let us reflect, exchange, and advocate for a world where local actions inspire global change. Together, we are daring to make a difference,” concluded Mayor Dörner.


To deep dive into this blog content, watch the Daring Cities 2024 webinars from Cornerstone I “Reflect”.

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