In 2024, the global climate agenda is at a critical juncture following the outcomes of COP28, which have been described as the “beginning of the end” of the fossil fuel era. The stocktake at COP28 recognized the urgent need to cut global greenhouse gas emissions by 43% by 2030, compared to 2019 levels, to address the escalating climate crisis. It also “urged Parties and non-Party stakeholders to join efforts to accelerate delivery through inclusive, multilevel, gender-responsive and cooperative action” (paragraph 161).
Looking ahead, 2024 is set to be a ‘super year’ for sustainability as a whole, not just climate, with the coalescence of six major UN events: the three Rio Conventions (Biodiversity COP16, Climate COP29, and Desertification COP16), as well as the 6th UN Environment Assembly, the 12th World Urban Forum, and the UN Summit of the Future. Additionally, while 2023 was the warmest year on record, 2024 may see the 1.5-degree Celsius global warming threshold being temporarily exceeded. Against this backdrop, local and regional government representatives play a crucial role in advocating for and driving forward the global sustainability agenda, as they prepare to engage in a series of significant events throughout the year.
Below is ICLEI’s top pick of 10 advocacy events that local and regional governments should be on the lookout for (in chronological order).
- The 6th United Nations Environment Assembly | 26 February – 1 March | Nairobi, Kenya
Held every two years, this year’s gathering will focus on “Effective, inclusive, and sustainable multilateral actions to tackle climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution.” The assembly aims to advance the global environmental agenda and strengthen multilateral actions to address pressing environmental challenges, with a particular emphasis on climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution. It will provide a platform for member states and stakeholders to discuss and deliver high-impact planetary action, featuring a high-level segment addressing inclusive and sustainable multilateral actions, as well as various official working documents and information on the implementation of decisions related to environmental issues.
- Daring Cities 2024 and UNFCCC SB60 | June | Bonn, Germany
Hosted by ICLEI and the Federal City of Bonn, Daring Cities is the annual global forum on climate change for urban leaders to empower decision-makers to lead in the climate emergency. The event aims to reinforce the importance of multilevel climate action to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement and to advance discussions on accelerating local climate finance. Daring Cities is held back to back with the 60th session of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (UNFCCC SB60), which addresses matters related to climate change, such as mitigation, and the global stocktake. It plays a key role in supporting the implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) under the Paris Agreement, research, and systematic observation.
- ICLEI World Congress 2024 | 18-21 June | São Paulo, Brazil
The triennial ICLEI World Congress aims to facilitate the exchange of best practices in local sustainable development among local and regional governments. The 2024 edition features three days of core programming, including high-level dialogues, mobile workshops, in-depth discussions, and networking opportunities. Not only does the Congress provide a platform to learn from São Paulo’s sustainability initiatives and engage in discussions on climate governance and multilevel climate action; it also celebrates ICLEI’s work and history in Brazil. Particularly, the Congress will serve as a bridge to link the ICLEI network’s journey to COP30, to be held in Belém, Brazil, in 2025.
- G7 Urbanization/U7 Mayors Summit | 24 – 26 July | Genoa, Italy
Building on the momentum of the 2023 Summit in Tokyo, the 2024 G7 Urbanization/U7 Mayors Summit will provide a platform for city leaders from G7 nations to convene and address the pressing challenges of sustainable urban development. This annual Summit serves as a forum for mayors to advocate for the ambitious implementation of sustainable development goals and to reaffirm the role of cities in strengthening their commitment to sustainability and climate change. Through continuous dialogue and collaboration, the U7 Mayors Summit aims to reinforce the urban perspective in the G7 process and advance the global urban development agenda.
- UN Summit of the Future | 22-23 September | New York City, USA
Proposed by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, this once-in-a-generation opportunity aims to forge a new global consensus on what the future should look like and what can be done today to secure it. Subnational inputs will be formulated by the UN Secretary General Advisory Board for Local and Regional Governments, in consultation with the Global Task Force of Local and Regional Governments and ICLEI’s global leadership. Building on such inputs and on the recommendations developed through the UN75, this Summit will result in an intergovernmentally negotiated, action-oriented Pact for the Future focused on sustainable development and financing for development; international peace and security; science, technology, and innovation; information integrity; and transforming education.
- 10th European Conference on Sustainable Cities & Towns | 1-3 October | Aalborg, Denmark
Held every three years, this flagship conference series serves as a milestone for progress and achievements in local sustainable development in Europe. The event brings together 1000+ participants from local and regional governments, multilateral organizations, academia, businesses, and civil society to promote core systemic changes and key policy shifts towards a more sustainable Europe. This will also represent the first reaction of European Cities and towns to the outcomes of European elections in June.
In 2024 we are celebrating not only the 10th edition of the conference but also the 30th Anniversary of the Aalborg Charter (1994) and the 20th Anniversary of the Aalborg Commitments (2004), both of which are recognized as local sustainability milestones.
- CBD Biodiversity COP16 | 21 October – 1 November | Colombia
The CBD Biodiversity COP16 is a biennial global event that addresses biodiversity conservation and sustainable use. It plays a crucial role in shaping policies and actions to protect and sustainably manage ecosystems and biodiversity at the local and regional levels, contributing to the global sustainability agenda. This edition will evaluate progress on the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, as well as the second 10 Year Plan of Action for Subnational Governments, Cities and other Local Authorities.
- World Urban Forum 12 | 4-8 November | Cairo, Egypt
Organized by UN-Habitat every two years, the 12th session of the World Urban Forum provides an open platform for addressing the challenges of sustainable urbanization and promoting collaboration among stakeholders engaged in urban issues, with a focus on the theme of sustainable, inclusive, and resilient cities.
- UNFCCC COP29 | 11-22 November | Baku, Azerbaijan
The 29th session of the annual Conference of the Parties aims to address the interdependence of climate action and sustainable development, with a focus on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Key expected outcomes include strengthening Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), financial commitments, and adaptation planning. COP29’s impact extends beyond climate change, driving progress in areas such as clean energy, sustainable cities, and biodiversity conservation,
- G20/U20 | 18-19 November | Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Comprising 19 countries and the European Union, the Group of Twenty (G20) meets every year to discuss global economic governance, financial regulation, and sustainable development. The Urban 20 (U20), is a city diplomacy initiative that brings together urban leaders from G20 cities to discuss and address urban issues such as climate action, social inclusion, and sustainable economic development. The U20 serves as a platform to influence the G20 agenda with urban perspectives and commitments to achieve sustainable development goals.
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