Setting up a multilevel COP29

Setting up a multilevel COP29: UN High-Level Climate Champions elevate the importance of subnationals and launch COP29 action agenda

As the SBs continue to set the stage for COP29, global city representatives shared concrete examples of multilevel governance and partnership for enhanced climate action between national and local governments.

On 5 June during the “Dialogue on multilevel partnerships for enhanced NDCs”, organized under the umbrella of Daring Cities 2024 Bonn Dialogues at the SB60 sessions, proposed a fruitful discussion on strengthening multilevel partnerships to enhance Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

At the event, the UN High-Level Champions reaffirmed their commitment to supporting all levels of government and implementing enhanced NDCs ahead of COP30, and COP29 UN High-Level Champion Nigar Arpadarai announced for the first time the COP29 Action Agenda of “Five pillars for harmony.”  The dialogue convened mayors, alongside climate leaders and representatives from youth organizations, financial institutions and NGOs.

COP29 High Level Champion Razan Al Mubarak emphasized, “What happens in cities is a microcosm of the systemic transformation that we all seek globally.”

The Champions presented three key recommendations to accelerate the leadership of cities, states and regions through enhanced NDCs:

  1. Co-design meaningful engagement of subnational entities in the design of NDCs.
  2. Co-implement the development of clear roadmaps, with defined roles and responsibilities, to guide these efforts.
  3. Co-finance opportunities to tap into international funding.

Mrs. Al Mubarak reiterated, “It’s truly incredible and inspiring to see what cities are already doing. Cities are all working tirelessly not because it’s a nice thing to have, or must have, but because of their relentless interest in serving their communities.” She reinforced the Champions’ advocacy for subnational engagement, emphasizing that city-level action is critical to achieving global climate goals.

Kobie Brand, ICLEI Deputy Secretary General, representing the LGMA Constituency, reinforced the importance of city and regional voices in climate action. ICLEI has been a steadfast advocate for cities since the first COP, and Ms. Brand acknowledged the commitment of the COP28 Presidency on multilevel action and amplifying the work of the LGMA Constituency. She also highlighted Bloomberg Philanthropies’ recognition of vital networks in supporting this multilevel process through the COP28 Coalition for High Ambition Multilevel Partnerships (CHAMP) for Climate Action, which underscores the pivotal role of partnerships in driving meaningful progress. Ms. Brand congratulated the 72 parties that have endorsed CHAMP and extended an invitation to parties that have not yet endorsed to engage.

Cecilia Kinuthia-Njenga, Director of Intergovernmental Support and Collective Progress at UNFCCC, stressed the necessity of aligning the next generation of NDCs with the 1.5-degree Celsius target, a goal unattainable without the active involvement of subnational governments. This sentiment was echoed by Ms. Al Mubarak, who noted that the majority of climate solutions lie within the boundaries of local mandates.


The COP29 Action Agenda: “Five Pillars of Harmony”

Ms. Arpadarai underscored the ongoing mobilization of cities’ roles in climate action. Reflecting on past experiences to build a sustainable future, she introduced the COP29 Action Agenda’s “Five Pillars of Harmony”:

  1. Harmony between climate finance, mitigation, and adaptation.
  2. Balance between climate ambitions and actions.
  3. Integration of economic, environmental, and social dimensions of the SDGs.
  4. Coordination of global and regional initiatives.
  5. Synergy between human capital, gender, youth, children, and nature, and aligning climate action with sustainable development through NDCs and SDGs.


Local, regional and subnational governments needed

Gregor Robertson, GCoM Global Ambassador and Special Envoy for Cities in CHAMP, highlighted the bold steps taken by the 72 countries that signed up for CHAMP, representing approximately 2 billion people. These countries are integrating subnational governments into their climate plans, demonstrating a strong commitment to multilevel governance.

During the dialogues, several speakers shared insights on strategies and best practices for effective multilevel governance and partnership between national and local governments.

Axel Grael, Mayor of Niterói, Brazil; Chair of the ICLEI Climate Action Support Portfolio spoke about the climate disasters in Rio Grande do Sul and the need for comprehensive rethinking of affected regions. He mentioned the Brazilian Minister of Environment’s recent announcement of an emergency climate plan focused on cities, highlighting the urgency and proactive measures being taken.

To reinforce such points, Lea Ranalder presented UN-Habitat’s newly launched report Urban Content of NDCs: Local climate action explored through in-depth country analyses. This analysis of 194 NDCs reveals that three-quarters of them could be significantly improved by working with subnational entities to integrate local action and enhance climate ambitions. Nicola Tollin from the University of Denmark echoed that including urban content in NDCs is fundamental to raising overall climate ambitions and ensuring local climate actions are supported.

The UN-Habitat report provided a detailed overview of mitigation and adaptation efforts by sector, identifying gaps between national and urban content. It found that 44% of NDCs integrate mitigation and adaptation at the urban level, with sectors like energy and waste frequently included. However, critical sectors such as the built environment need more representation, indicating room for improvement. Adaptation efforts commonly focus on infrastructure and water, while ecosystems, coastal areas, and human health present significant opportunities for further integration. Interestingly, while only 51 NDCs identify hazards at the urban level, the majority of these are water-related, including floods, droughts, and sea-level rise.

With robust support from global networks and the active engagement of subnational governments, the path to enhanced NDCs and comprehensive climate action is clear. The collaboration and insights shared during these dialogues provide a strong foundation for continued progress leading up to COP30.

The event was held by the framework of the UNFCCC Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action, which is co-lead by ICLEI as the focal point of the Local Governments and Municipal Authorities (LGMA) Constituency.

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