Want to accelerate climate action where you live? The @BonnGlobal workshops will help show you how

Yet another reason to get excited about the ICLEI’s Daring Cities 2022, which takes place all next week, is the fact that Bonn is not only serving as host city for this virtual forum, but is also heading up two key workshops tied to accelerating on the ground action in the fight against climate change.

Since 1996 when Bonn was chosen to serve as headquarters for the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) the city has voluntarily taken on a leadership role in seeking to reduce the pace of global warming. And over the span of two and a half decades, it has showcased several high profile climate conferences, including the Climate Summit of Local and Regional Leaders, jointly hosted with ICLEI in 2017.

The city has served not only as a hub for discussion on how positive change can occur but also as a role model when it comes to putting those words into action, announcing in 2016 the goal of becoming climate neutral by 2050 and since then aggressively lowering this target date to 2035.

In addition, Bonn has been one of the first cities in the world to document the steps that it is taking towards meeting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s), by establishing a formal reporting system. The first Voluntary Local Review on the SDG’s was produced in 2020 and as a sign of how seriously Bonn takes this process, a second Voluntary Local Review (2022) was released just this past July.

Reflecting on the importance of these reviews (which she hopes to share at Daring Cities), Bonn Mayor Katja Dörner observes that the reports “help to inform citizens of the progress of our work – but also about the challenges during the implementation and (hopefully) motivates them to get engaged themselves. We show what we’ve achieved… but also where we still need to improve.”

This approach of taking matters in hand and sharing with the public what the city is up to clearly reflects Mayor Dörner and her administration’s commitment to make the fight against climate change a top priority. Fittingly, she says “I want to be directly involved in the climate neutrality path,” and as part of this process, the city has established a Climate Neutrality 2035 office which reports directly to her. “We no longer can talk vision alone… we have to talk deadlines and establishing CO2 (mitigation) budgets. So it’s a totally different way of thinking.”

The Daring Cities @BonnGlobal Workshop entitled: Making Cities Resilient 2030 (Wednesday, October 5), will be an opportunity for Bonn to share some of the main insights the city has gained over the years in terms of knowledge sharing,  networking and best practices it has embarked upon towards becoming more climate resilient.

The session will also be used as an opportunity to formally announce yet another leadership role the city aspires to by applying this year to become a resilience hub as part of the Making Cities Resilient 2030 campaign of the United Nations Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) initiative.

While the first @BonnGlobal Workshop tackles the networking and knowledge sharing side of things, the second session on Thursday, October 6 will focus on both gender inequality and the challenges of procuring climate change financing. Entitled: Shifting to Female Driven Climate Action, Mayor Dörner comments that “we will showcase how women drive resilience and why gender-just financing can actually steer the change through women-led projects.” That particular session will be conducted in partnership with the Gender@International Bonn network and the Center for Development Research at the University of Bonn.

Notwithstanding Bonn’s numerous accomplishments on the world stage in the fight against climate change, it’s impressive to note that urban leaders such as  Mayor Dörner remain grounded when it comes to recognizing there is still much work to be done. Reflecting on her own ‘backyard’ Dörner observes that “our biggest challenge and opportunity continues to be changing the habits of individuals.” Examples she cites include getting commuters to embrace more sustainable mobility options and the lack of willingness on the part of homeowners to embrace such CO2 reduction solutions as solar energy.

Dörner says she also remains concerned about the whole matter of finding a way to support lower income families as part of their drive towards becoming climate neutral. “We have to come up with a better strategy to help get the poorer and more vulnerable parts of the population on board,” she says candidly.

Apart from the unique perspectives that Bonn and leaders such as Mayor Dörner will share at Daring Cities, and the two workshops Bonn will lead, it’s worth noting there will be several other hands-on sessions that involve not just presentations, but a working dialogue that will be encouraged between all participants.

Furthermore, the focus this year will be on financing and addressing the whole matter of how cities can procure the funds they need to get their respective projects off the ground. For example, the Monday, Oct. 3 session Seeding the Future of Energy: Public Private Partnerships to Drive Energy Innovation at Scale will showcase innovative public/private projects from Africa, Chinese Taipei and Europe.

As for the session that excites her the most, Mayor Dörner says she is actually looking forward to the closing day sessions “when everything comes together and arches toward the upcoming COP-27 (in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt). And for the participants of Daring Cities, it will be a chance to contribute to this momentum. “It will be an opportunity to be part of an urban movement that addresses climate change faster and better,” she says.

And in doing so, help drive change with fellow participants from around the world.

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