Why the end of Daring Cities is just the beginning…

After five packed days of discussion, workshops and networking on everything from multi-level collaborations to addressing land capture, Daring Cities 2021 has come to a close. But the journey doesn’t end here. We reflect on the achievements of the week and how Daring Cities’ outcomes will sow the seeds for the climate discussions at COP26 and beyond. 

As leaders reflected on their visions for the future, they contemplated the reality of now. The IPCC’s Sixth Assessment report, published this year, laid down the hard reality of the climate emergency in black and white. The IPCC scientists are “usually conservative about spelling out the severity of the situation … but this time they did”, emphasized Saleemul Huq, Director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD). He also expressed dismay at the lack of climate action over the past decades.

The gravity of the situation is not unfamiliar to local governments who are racing forward to compensate for lethargic responses at the national and international level. The City of Bonn, co-host of Daring Cities, was crystal clear in its commitment to delivering on its climate promises.


There is widespread acknowledgement that a handful of cities excelling in their climate action is not enough to reach global climate neutrality goals. In parallel with multilevel action, every city needs to be taking leaps and bounds. That’s why ambitious leaders at Daring Cities are compiling a Compendium of Best Practices, documenting concrete examples of initiatives they’ve successfully implemented and that have led to impactful results. 

For example, the city of Izmir, Turkey is sharing their best practice in incorporating cultural aspects into their climate planning. The city has developed a concept of circular culture, stating that not only art, but also science, technology and climate action require a cultural basis. The concept is founded on four pillars – harmony with nature, harmony with each other, harmony with the past and harmony with change – and informs the city’s practices from politics to agriculture.

This free-to-use resource will help local governments exchange knowledge and learning, and disseminate much needed guidance for cities striving to transpose commitments into action, especially in regions with weaker institutional and technical capacity. 

The Compendium of Good Practices is one of two outcomes from Daring Cities 2021 that will guide cities as they navigate the waters of ambitious climate action. The second being the Call for Transformation, which unites the voices of cities, towns and regions already responding to the climate crisis, as they call on non-state actors and on the international community to provide the necessary support to deliver on the Paris Agreement.

A living document, the Call for Transformation started at Daring Cities 2021, but will continue to grow and evolve through city contributions and will bring the voice of urban leaders to COP26 and beyond. 

Using the momentum of Urban October, of events like World Cities Day on 31 October and of COP26 will be crucial for cities to achieve their visions, impresses Frank Cownie, Mayor of Des Moines, US, and President of ICLEI. “National governments are finally starting to incorporate cities into plans. World Cities Day on the 31st will not only kick off the beginning of COP26…it marks the start of multi-level, multi-actor actions.” 

This is something Daring Cities knows all too well, with ICLEI’s Head of Global Advocacy, Yunus Arikan, reiterating that multi-level action will be the deciding factor of success for local governments and municipalities at Glasgow. “We’ve been working on this since the last climate conference in Madrid. Over this time we’ve seen a change in the mindsets, from the US to Japan. It’s time.”

To close out this week of intense and inspirational discussions, special guest Annika Zeyen, two time paralympic gold medalist, stepped up to serve as a coach for the local and regional leaders that came together at Daring Cities. She reminded us all that we can each make a difference, and that working towards our goal is not always easy, but we have to keep our eyes on the prize.