United in ambition – cities and regions at COP23 in Bonn

From 6 to 17 November, COP23, this year’s UNFCCC climate change conference, will take place in Bonn. Two years after the Paris Agreement was reached, and one year after it came into force, climate action is coming to a crossroad again. The Bonn COP, hosted by UNFCCC under the Presidency of Fiji, is meant to move a step closer to the full  implementation of the Paris Agreement.

Personally, I am optimistic.

Firstly, because I see that, after the announced withdrawal of the United States from the agreement, nations have reacted  by competing on more ambitious pledges,  supported by both the outgoing and incoming COP presidencies.

Secondly, because the climate movement has a very special ace up their sleeve: cities and regions, or, more precisely, local and regional governments. Local governments will host two-thirds of the worlds population in 30 years. Climate action is a priority and daily practice for both local and regional governments. It covers a wide range of policies – from technical innovation (e.g. in energy production and district heating) to guiding principles for climate adaptation, to ecomobility and climate education. Educating primary school children over the course of a month seems like a small project. However, it holds the potential to reach out to generations of children, so that they become the responsible and responsive citizens of the future we need. A potential for change that can be multiplied by their families and friends.

Implementation happens on the ground – but it is regions providing the framework and support for the local level to roll out high potential action. With their instrumental role to implementation, local and regional governments are natural partners in the process.

Cities and regions are a winning team already, united in their ambition. Now it is time to bring this experience, cooperation potential and ambition into a broader coalition, #Uniting4Climate.

With this aim in mind, the Minister President of North Rhine-Westphalia and I are jointly convening the Climate Summit of Local and Regional Leaders at COP23 in Bonn. ICLEI is organizing the Summit on behalf of Bonn, NRW and a wide range of partners.  The Summit will be the peak event in a two-week long schedule of local and regional activities at COP23, with a program that intensifies between 10 and 13 November.  The Leaders’ Summit of 12 November will bring together climate actors from all over the planet. It will focus on partnerships – across geographies as well as with stakeholders in cities’ and regions’ territories – on the synergistic implementation of global processes – such as the Sustainable Development Goals – and of course on the role of local and regional governments in the advancing and improving the Nationally Determined Contributions made by countries.

United in ambition. With this philosophy, we invite local and regional leaders to come to Bonn and to bring their latest commitments and initiatives with them.

The summit has been the first event to be officially endorsed by the Fiji COP23 Presidency. The space and access to the Bonn Zone at COP23 was generously provided by UNFCCC and Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa. The Summit also benefits from the generous support of the Federal Government of Germany.

The global climate process has reached a new phase with the Paris Agreement – so has the attention for what local and regional governments are doing and can do. Now more than ever, cities and regions have an opportunity to become a respected voice on climate change. The Climate Summit of Local and Regional Leaders at COP23 in Bonn is going to bring this voice to the global climate conversation. Join us in spreading a message of unity and shared responsibility on this defining issue of our time.

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