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ICCA Bulletin

Volume 172 Number 45 | Sunday, 26 May 2019


Summary of the International Conference on Climate Action

22-23 May 2019 | Heidelberg, Germany


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Visit our IISD/ENB+ Meeting Coverage from Heidelberg, Germany at: http://enb.iisd.org/climate/icca/2019/

The International Conference on Climate Action (ICCA2019) convened in Heidelberg, Germany, from 22-23 May 2019 and was hosted by Germany’s Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, and Nuclear Safety, the State of Baden-Württemberg, and the city of Heidelberg. More than 700 participants attended the conference.

The event took place in the lead-up to the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit, scheduled for September 2019, and focussed on how vertical and horizontal cooperation can strengthen climate mitigation and adaptation activities. The two-day event showed that many solutions for increasing climate ambition already exist, but that enhanced collaboration between different government levels is needed to further strengthen their roll-out and upscaling.

ICCA2019 began on Wednesday, 22 May, with opening remarks from the conference co-organizers, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the 2019 Climate Action Summit, as well as representatives from the UN Human Settlements Program (UN-Habitat) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Participants then heard an intervention from members of the Fridays for Futures movement and participants in the Youth Climate Summit that convened alongside ICCA2019. The morning closed with a panel discussion on collaborative climate action.

On Thursday morning, 23 May, participants heard a keynote address on climate policy from a sustainable development perspective and a panel discussion on the role of science in informing climate action. A high-level roundtable also convened with representatives from national, regional, and local governments, as well as intergovernmental organizations and transnational networks, discussing options for stepping up cross-level collaboration for climate action. At its conclusion, the high-level roundtable adopted a Partnership Declaration.

On both Wednesday and Thursday, workshops took place under thematic clusters such as energy transitions, mobility, and resilience and adaptation. Takeaways from these workshops shaped the Heidelberg Outcome, which consolidates the results of the ICCA2019. The Heidelberg Outcome will be published in the beginning of June and will inform discussions at the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit and the 25th session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC.

A Brief History of Global and Local Climate Governance

The international political response to climate change began with the 1992 adoption of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which sets out the basic legal framework and principles for international climate change cooperation with the aim of stabilizing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHGs) to avoid “dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.” The Convention, which entered into force on 21 March 1994, currently has 197 parties.

To boost the effectiveness of the UNFCCC, the Kyoto Protocol was adopted in December 1997. It commits industrialized countries and countries in transition to a market economy to achieve quantified emissions reduction targets for a basket of six GHGs. In December 2015, parties adopted the Paris Agreement. Under its terms, all countries submit nationally determined contribution (NDCs), and aggregate progress on mitigation, adaptation, and means of implementation will be reviewed every five years through a global stocktaking. The Paris Agreement entered into force on 4 November 2016 and, to date, 185 parties have ratified the Agreement.

In the context of these ongoing efforts to address climate change, increasing attention is being paid to the role of local and regional governments in implementing mitigation and adaptation actions and thus contributing to reaching national and international climate policy objectives. Beyond taking initiatives within their own jurisdictions, subnational governments increasingly form and engage with transnational networks to share best practices, actively positioning themselves as important actors in the global transformation towards a sustainable future.

Notably, at the 2014 Climate Summit, hosted by then UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to support the UNFCCC negotiations, more than 2,000 cities committed to take further action on climate change by reducing emissions by 454 megatons by 2020 through the Compact of Mayors. Another milestone was the adoption on 25 September 2015 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by the UN General Assembly. The 2030 Agenda features 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including SDG 11 (making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable) and SDG 13 (taking urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts).

In 2015, several other large meetings brought together local leaders to discuss sustainable urban development and subnational climate action, such as the International Conference on Climate Action (ICCA2015), which convened in Hannover, Germany, from 1-2 October 2015 under the theme ‘Local Governments Driving Transformation.’ The key outcome of the conference was the adoption of the Hannover Declaration, which calls for political strategies tailored to recognize, encourage, and enable local authorities’ climate action.

In September 2019, UN Secretary-General António Guterres will host the 2019 Climate Action Summit to boost ambition and accelerate the implementation of the Paris Agreement. As was the case at the 2014 Summit, ‘cities and local action’ will be a priority, as Guterres called for addressing mitigation and resilience at urban and local levels with a focus on new commitments on low-emission buildings, mass transportation, urban infrastructure, and resilience for the urban poor.

Report of the Meeting

Opening Speeches

In her opening remarks on Wednesday morning, Svenja Schulze, Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation, and Nuclear Safety (BMU), Germany, said that ICCA2019 is an important milestone ahead of the UN Secretary General’s Climate Action Summit and is a forum for raising climate ambition with a view to limit average global temperature rise to 1.5°C. She underscored that collaboration across government levels is key for effective climate action and highlighted that the German national climate initiative (NKI) provided financial support for about 29,000 local climate projects in the country. Schulze lauded the Fridays for Future movement for increasing the pressure on decision makers to become more “climate ambitious.”

Winfried Kretschmann, Prime Minister, State of Baden-Württemberg, Germany, underscored the need to move from goal setting to implementation. He called for “making it expensive to ruin the climate,” for example through taxing CO2 emissions. He noted the need for a new culture of both vertical and horizontal cooperation that creates mutual trust and pointed to the Under2 Coalition as a good example of transnational climate cooperation between regions. Kretschmann also emphasized the need to ensure that ecological and economic considerations go hand-in-hand. He closed underscoring the role of high technology regions, such as Baden-Württemberg, in demonstrating that economic growth can be decoupled from resource depletion.

Eckart Würzner, Mayor of Heidelberg, Germany, highlighted that climate change already impacts many cities around the world and called for industrialized countries to be climate policy frontrunners. He emphasized the growing engagement of cities in taking ambitious climate action and making their contributions transparent, notably in the context of the Covenant of Mayors. He said many solutions are already available, for example on renewable energy and sustainable mobility, and that national support is key for implementing local climate projects. He lauded ICCA2019 for bringing together multiple levels of governments and providing a relevant forum for cross-level cooperation.

In a video address, Luis Alfonso de Alba, Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for the 2019 Climate Action Summit, recalled that cities and metropolitan regions contain most of the global population and produce 80% of the world’s GDP. He highlighted the challenge of mobilizing the USD 93 trillion needed to adapt to climate change and noted the 2019 UN Climate Summit is a key opportunity to drive transformative action on issues such as energy transition and nature-based solutions.

Shipra Narang Suri, UN-Habitat, underscored that climate change affects cities in many ways, such as through weather related disasters and heat waves. She noted many areas where climate adaptation and poverty reduction must advance together, highlighting that plans and policies cannot work without fiscal support from governments and enhanced access to international finance. She recalled that, by 2025, 70% of the world’s population is projected to live in low elevation coastal zones and underlined the urgent need to plan adaptation measures for those areas. She closed highlighting UN-Habitat’s commitment to support transformation towards a 1.5°C world, declaring that the “time to act in now.”

Martin Frick, UNFCCC, said that climate change science is undeniable and demonstrates the urgency of complying with the 1.5°C target. He celebrated the arrival of the climate agenda into the political mainstream but said that cooperation across levels is still lagging. He called for a combination of both bottom-up and top-down approaches to deliver the Paris Agreement. In a second round of statements, Suri and Frick addressed the need for greater cooperation across the UN system, as well as opportunities and challenges related to digitalization and blockchain technologies.

Jakob Blasel and Luisa Neubauer, members of the German Fridays for Future movement, urged bold action to tackle the climate crisis and ensure intergenerational equity. They called upon decision makers to move from lip service to effectively addressing youth demands, inter alia, saying Germany needs to accelerate the closing of its coal power plants and become climate neutral in 2030 instead of 2050, as it currently plans. The youth representatives noted that “if governments around the globe don’t raise ambition, this will go down in history as humanity’s biggest decision-making failure” and closed stating that there is still time for a “success story.” Concluding their statement, participants in the Youth Climate Summit, which convened alongside ICCA2019, inspired the audience chanting: “we are unstoppable, another world is possible!”

Throughout the meeting, participants engaged in interactive sessions with the moderator, Natasha Walker, notably reacting to questions on what impacts the conference should have, whether they were optimistic that progress in tackling climate change will be made in 2019, and what needs to be done to step up climate action, with participants citing, for example, taxation, empowering women, and reducing consumption. The conference also featured a comprehensive supporting programme, including events such as a dedicated networking session for mayors, a Youth Climate Summit, a meeting of the Under2 Coalition, field trips to local climate projects in the region, a ceremony for the Impact Hub’s Better Together Award, and a Climate Neighborhoods event under the motto “Let’s scale up solutions!”

Panel Discussion on Collaborative Climate Action

Alexander Carius, CEO, adelphi, facilitated the discussion. Lisa Helps, Mayor of Victoria, Canada, described her city’s plan to be climate neutral by 2030 instead of 2050, an adjustment made to reflect the growing understanding of a need for urgent climate action. She said that, for her city to be successful, resources and delegation of authority from national and provincial authorities are key. She stressed that recognizing the climate emergency “can’t just be a political message,” but needs to be translated into concrete reforms.

To emphasize the global relevance of climate action in her State, Kate Gordon, Director, California Office of Planning and Research, recalled that, if California were a country, it would be the 5th largest economy in the world. Describing key achievements of her state, such as on renewable energy, she noted the need for greater action in two specific sectors: transport and land use, both of which are lagging behind.

Arlette Soudan-Nonault, Minister of Tourism and the Environment, Republic of the Congo, noted that, although having contributed little to causing the problem, Africa is significantly affected by climate change. She drew attention to the fact that the Congo basin forest is the world’s second largest reservoir of carbon in vegetation, after the Amazon, and called for increased attention to the global importance of preserving it.

Raffaele Mauro Petriccione, Director General for Climate Action, European Commission, underscored that the European Union’s plans for 2030 and 2050 aim to foster economic transformation and noted the importance of the local level in creating this change. He stated that climate action goes “way beyond increasing the number of electric cars on the road” and, in fact, requires a holistic rethinking of how cities are designed and infrastructure is built. He concluded saying that everyone must avoid falling into the trap of thinking of climate action as “an extra cost,” explaining that it is about “doing everything differently and changing the way we spend our resources.”

Sheela Patel, Chair, Shack/Slum Dwellers International, discussed challenges for non-state actors and vulnerable individuals to respond to the climate crisis. Recalling the importance of social justice in the debate on climate change, she mentioned that around 30% of the people in the Global South don’t have a fixed address. She stated that “poor people with all their problems want to participate and to have a voice and not just be perceived as a burden.”

Workshops

Three workshop sessions took place during the conference, two on Wednesday and one on Thursday. A total of 23 workshops were organized under the following thematic clusters: energy transitions, mobility, planning and building, resilience and adaptation, consumption and production, ambitious climate action plans, collaborative climate action, finance, governance, and good practices in Baden-Württemberg. Descriptions of all the workshops can be found at: https://www.icca2019.org/programme/

Planning and Building - From Integrated Spatial Planning to Buildings: Ratcheting Up National Ambition Via Municipal Action: Ani Dasgupta, World Resources Institute, moderated this session. He emphasized that the need to deal with projected changes in urban populations represents a great opportunity to shape urban futures more sustainably. Kate Gordon, Director, California Office of Planning and Research, said that, while California managed to decouple economic growth from GHG emissions growth, it has so far not managed to decouple it from physical growth. She highlighted the need for urban densification, investment in public transit, and disincentivizing individual car use, including by limiting free parking options. In discussing the role of transportation, Gordon also raised the following issues: increasing car-based transit resulting from services, such as Uber and Lift; time spent commuting competing with other activities, notably family time and exercise; and noted the need to pay more attention to the role of land-use planning, for example, to preserve buffer zones for forest fire mitigation.

Andrea Fernández, C40, pointed to decreasing densification rates, emphasizing that “we are going in the wrong direction.” She shared her experience that cities, especially in the Global South, are more inclined to take climate action when it is presented in terms of positive health effects and better quality of life. Among other points, she highlighted the need for: better collaboration between climate and planning departments; establishing building standards at the national level; and ensuring that funding schemes to develop mass transit can be used to invest in biking infrastructure.

Oliver Rapf, Global Alliance for Building and Construction, emphasized the need to foster the dialogue between government agencies, the construction sector, and civil society on how to achieve the transformation towards highly efficient buildings powered by renewable energy. He lauded common building codes at EU level for providing clear goals but also giving flexibility at the local level to adjust to local circumstances, including with regard to different climatic conditions.

With regards to energy efficiency in buildings, Stephan Anders, Director, German Sustainable Building Council, emphasized the need to better account for the environmental impact of insulation material over its entire life cycle. On options for incentivizing sustainable building, he pointed to banks providing better lending conditions for environmentally certified buildings, and municipalities allocating development rights to investors based on how they address climate change and social considerations in their designs. He also noted that there are significant knowledge gaps with regards to buildings’ energy and water use, both at household and corporate levels.

Ambitious Climate Action Plans - Technology And Innovation Investment Opportunities: Amanda Eichel, Executive Director, Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy (GCoM), moderated this session. Andreas Wolter, Vice-Mayor of Cologne, Germany, and President of the Climate Alliance, highlighted actions taken by the city of Cologne to improve air quality. He pointed to the importance of partnerships, both with cities such as Stockholm and Barcelona, and with local companies, noting the example of the waste management sector.

Mutazindwa Muhamood, city of Kampala, Uganda, highlighted the Kampala Climate Plan as a key tool for enhancing the city’s resilience and developing a green economy. He noted eco-mobility and digitalization of traffic management as current opportunities to step up climate action in his country and other areas of the Global South.

Renán Barrera Concha, Mayor of Mérida, Mexico, said that the transport sector emits the majority of CO2 in his city. He described initiatives to increase the use of renewable energy through tax incentives and highlighted the city’s goal to plant 100,000 trees by 2021. He also noted Mexico’s high level of centralization makes it challenging for cities to access funds.

Nur Masripatin, Senior Advisor to the Indonesian Minister of Environment and Forestry on Climate Change and International Conventions, noted typical challenges for cities in Indonesia are waste management and emissions in the transport sector. She also highlighted increasing green spaces and curbing energy consumption as key opportunities in her region, noting there are many global alliances allowing cities to exchange experiences, and that transforming “global commitments into local action” is key.

In the ensuing discussions, participants inquired about the role of decentralization in facilitating cities’ access to funding; land-use measures and their relationship to biodiversity preservation; mechanisms to foster citizen participation; and experiences in implementing climate adaptation measures and stakeholder engagement to improve multi-level collaboration, notably to include the most vulnerable populations.

Production and Consumption - Circular Economy in Cities and Quality of Life: Kevin Austin, C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, moderated the session. Joke Dufourmont, Circle Economy, said that the circular economy is about more than recycling. She shared strategies to make economies more circular, including: prioritizing regenerative resources; preserving what is already made; rethinking current business models; incorporating digital technology; using waste as a resource; and collaborating to create joint value.

To prepare the workforce for contributing to the transformation towards a circular economy, she recommended mainstreaming circular thinking in education, and better connecting industry with educational institutions. Dufourmont also emphasized the importance of focusing on social equality when implementing circular economy measures.

The session hosted two rounds of group discussions. One participant noted many local authorities lack human resources, saying that “it is not easy for municipalities to have the right people to effectively act on these issues.” Some inquired about barriers for scaling up circular economy approaches, which led Dufourmont to note that “vested interests are large impediments to move this agenda forward,” adding that the circular economy could be facilitated by taxing resource use instead of labor.

The session highlighted challenges for monitoring the progress of sustainable public procurement and panelists urged for: a systemic approach towards circular economy; decoupling growth from resource use; and scaling up public-private partnerships.

Supporting Collaborative Climate Action – Hot Seat Panel: Romeo Bertolini, NDC Partnership, moderated the session. Mariana Panuncio-Feldman, WWF, recalled that the “enormous” challenge of addressing climate change requires the engagement of all, and that the most pressing question is how to engage these different actors. She said that there are “not enough champions leading the way” and that the work of pioneering actors often lacks visibility, especially at the national level, underscoring the need to invest in social infrastructure to connect actors across levels and create multi-stakeholder coalitions.

Mitch Carpen, Green Climate Fund (GCF), noted the requirements for accessing climate finance are challenging for subnational actors and emphasized support for project proposal preparation, especially for risk assessments. He underscored the GCF’s approach of “de-risking” investment in climate change projects for other investors and of collaborating with national financial institutions to build in-country capacity. He pointed to successful projects in diverse areas, including crop insurance for farmers and results-based payments in the forestry sector.

Elisabeth Ouma, Ministry of Devolution, Kenya, emphasized the need to consider questions of social structure to mobilize all parts of society in tackling climate change. She drew a parallel to campaigns in the health care sector targeting organizations as varied as religious institutions, schools, and professional associations. Noting that local priorities might not align with those at the national levels, she underscored the need to bridge these gaps, including by providing financial support to help cities to invest in infrastructure development.

Noting that Adelaide is the capital of the State of South Australia, Michelle English, city of Adelaide, delineated how the city’ goal of becoming climate neutral was reflected in state level strategies. She highlighted that city-state collaboration enabled leveraging funding for energy storage projects and increasing the number of electric car charging stations, adding that Adelaide pursues a strategy to catalyze community action to attract investment, distribute costs, and reduce investment risks. She highlighted that more than 100 stakeholders committed to supporting the climate neutrality goal.

The ensuing discussion addressed inter alia: barriers to cities’ access to international climate finance and whether and how donors are adjusting to the increased role of subnational climate action; using mobile payment systems for issuing green bonds; challenges related to decarbonizing the transport sector; and aligning national budget planning with NDCs under the Paris Agreement. 

Governance – Regional Perspectives: Tina Voelker, North Rhine Westphalia, Germany, moderated the session. Mercè Rius, Catalonia, delineated her region’s actions against heat waves as well as its targets of 40% reduction of GHG emissions by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2050. Mudit Kumar Singh, Chhattisgarh State Centre for Climate Change, India, described how local level initiatives for water harvest can overcome failures of former large-scale projects, and pointed to initiatives on home gardens and biogas use as success stories for local self-sufficiency.

Ronan Dantec, Senator, Region of Loire-Atlantique, France, underscored that climate change progress is, above all, an issue of political will and financial viability. He urged for better narratives and enhanced public communication to avoid regulatory setbacks, citing the “yellow jackets” in France, which initially mobilized against a planned carbon tax.

Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, Secretary General of United Cities and Local Governments of Africa, called for improved synergies between the climate and biodiversity agendas. Stressing the need for awareness raising, he emphasized that youth and the media have key roles to play in sustaining attention and pressure to deliver on sustainable development. Mariana Panuncio-Feldman, WWF, said that “a social infrastructure” is needed to ensure that the youth “feels connected and heard.” The session highlighted the need for close cooperation between national and subnational levels and the urgency to “break the silos.”

Highlights from the Parallel Workshops: Across all workshops, participants exchanged best practices and lessons learned about collaborative climate action. Discussions addressed inter alia:

  • mapping of informal settlements and self-organized redesign to reduce vulnerability, notably to flooding;
  • risk-informed spatial planning and infrastructure development;
  • overcoming siloed adaptation responses resulting from split government responsibilities;
  • subsidizing green roofs and increasing green spaces for rain run-off management;
  • collecting locally relevant data to inform disaster risk reduction strategies;
  • enhancing the dialogue between researchers, as data suppliers, and local stakeholders, as data users;
  • build local communities’ capacity for collecting data;
  • leveraging the opportunity of private investment in sustainability projects, both through commercial banks and bottom-up mechanisms such as crowdfunding initiatives;
  • using district heat management projects as an accessible entry way for subsequently expanding climate action;
  • technological solutions that generate revenue for more climate action;
  • developing capacity not only to replicate projects, but also to manage them sustainably;
  • project preparation facilities, such as FELICITY, playing a crucial role in helping local authorities to prepare bankable projects;
  • the need for the public sector to serve as a role model, notably through green procurement and using renewable energy in municipal buildings;
  • ensuring that support structures at different government levels are complementary to each other; and
  • taking social considerations into account in planning climate action and raising awareness about co-benefits.

Plenary

Addressing the plenary on Thursday morning, Ingrid-Gabriela Hoven, Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), Germany, delineated Germany’s rationale for stepping up climate action in the context of development cooperation activities, highlighting in particular the importance of implementing the SDGs within planetary boundaries. Hoven reiterated her country’s commitment to increase its contributions of climate finance to the GCF. She noted that Germany has joined the Global Commission on Adaptation and aims to strengthen collaborative action to scale-up adaptation efforts and climate-proof infrastructures. She closed emphasizing the importance of inclusive partnerships and engaging local communities, as well as praising the energetic youth mobilization in the Fridays for Future movement.

Participants then heard a panel discussion. Minu Hemmati, independent consultant, noted there is a strong appreciation among local authorities for transnational networks of cities and regions that help build capacity and share best practices. She highlighted the networks’ role in supporting local climate action in countries where national governments are not proactive. Hemmati emphasized best practice examples in the Global South, highlighting these could inspire action in the Global North. An important lesson learned in the context of the German national climate initiative, she said, is the need for coherence between funding programmes and providing tailor made support for local projects. She also underscored that “projects don’t have to be big to have an impact at the local level.”

Karsten Sach, BMU, said that the German national government not only supports subnational governments, but also incentivizes community-based action, citing the example of shared cargo bike projects. He underscored the need for fiscal reform, keeping in mind that revenues generated from tools, such as carbon taxes, should be used to support communities and businesses to decarbonize in a socially equitable manner. Regarding the pathway to decarbonisation, he said “regulation is not very popular, but it gives clarity,” citing the importance of building standards.

Tom Henfrey, ECOLISE, highlighted that a key effect of local level projects is building a “sense of community.” He also noted they enable people to “live better,” while reducing their material impact, citing co-living projects with shared kitchen facilities as an example. He emphasized the need to move beyond debating sustainable development in the context of the growth paradigm and instead move towards considering solutions with the transformative potential to decouple well-being from resource consumption. Henfrey concluded by calling upon all stakeholders to “be creative,” and for governments and businesses to create enabling conditions for scaling-up locally developed solutions.

A second panel discussion addressed the role of science in “pushing the levers for collaborative climate action.” Debra Roberts, Co-Chair Working Group II, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), emphasized the crucial role of scientific actors in informing action and of societal and political will to effectively drive change. On the need to limit the mean global temperate rise to 1.5°C rather than 2 °C, she underscored that what seems to be “only half a degree” actually represents a significant difference, notably for people living in vulnerable coastal regions and in terms of water and food security. She highlighted that the biggest message from IPCC scientists to policy makers is that transformative change is both urgently needed and possible but requires holistic implementation.

Dirk Messner, Director, UN University Institute for Environment and Human Security, emphasized the speed, scale, and force of the “urbanization surge.” He specifically highlighted that, if this urbanization takes place in a business-as-usual manner, much of the newly urban population will live in slums and that urban sprawl will significantly increase. Messner said an investment of USD 70 trillion is needed to build the “cities of tomorrow,” noting that such investments have to be carbon free. He emphasized giving communities the power to decide the allocation of local budgets as a means to strengthen their role as change-makers in the transformative pathway towards sustainability. He closed urging more focus on the social dimension of sustainable cities, adding that climate action needs to increase human wellbeing and access to public goods.

High-level Roundtable on Collaboration for Climate Action

Andrew Steer, CEO, World Resources Institute, moderated this session in which representatives from national, regional, and local governments, as well as intergovernmental organizations and transnational networks, exchanged views on how to step up cross-level collaboration for climate action. He highlighted the session’s objective of sharpening the messages of the Heidelberg Outcome, the main conference outcome, noting it is not a legal document but rather serves to take stock of existing initiatives and affirm a shared commitment to collaboration across government levels. Participants discussed, inter alia: how to foster and better recognize local and regional climate action in countries where the national government is antagonistic to such initiatives; providing predictable and continuous financial support to cities, especially in countries where cities don’t have sovereign access to tax revenues; establishing carbon taxes and using this revenue to support local projects; engaging subnational governments in the revision of NDCs; aligning all public policies and funding from development banks with the goals of the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; not just “doing more” but doing things differently to drive transformative change; addressing issues of distributional justice; and ensuring collaborative frameworks allow every government level to do “what they do best.”

Closing: Conference Takeaways

Participants in the Climate Neighborhoods meeting, which took place alongside ICCA2019, reported on discussions held in “fishbowl sessions,” notably on the interlinkages between climate and health, and urged political commitment towards the safeguarding the wellbeing of present and, above all, future generations.

Plenary then heard two rounds of reflections on the discussions held at the conference. On replicating innovative solutions, Peta Wolpe, Managing Director, Sustainable Energy Africa, stressed that “there is a lot that the Global South can teach the North,” not just the other way around; and said future discussions need to better address the issue of vested interests that constitute a barrier to progressive climate action. Tim Ash Vie, Director, Under2 Coalition, highlighted the need for better narratives to get everybody on board for “the climate journey,” pointing to the outcomes of the 2019 Australian election as a signal that many still don’t recognize the need for urgent climate action. Nick Godfrey, Director, Coalition for Urban Transitions, emphasized the importance of promoting climate resilience for the urban poor and scaling up green finance for cities.

Karsten Sach, BMU, emphasized the role of national governments in empowering local climate action and said transnational collaboration is key for supporting subnational pioneers in countries where the national government is not climate ambitious. Minu Hemmati, independent consultant, highlighted the challenge for local authorities to navigate the “funding jungle” and successfully leverage support. She also noted discussions on having “locally determined contributions” feeding into the NDCs. Tom Henfrey, ECOLISE, called for recognizing power differentials between stakeholders engaged in collaborative action, emphasizing the need for genuine empowerment. He said incredible solutions can be identified if people are given space to be creative, and highlighted that collaboration fosters consideration for other peoples’ values, opinions, and interests.  

Representatives of Kenya and Turkey, the co-leading countries of the cities track at the 2019 Climate Action Summit, shared thoughts on how the discussions held at ICCA2019 will feed into the UNSG’s Summit. Recalling that latest scientific findings show the urgency of increasing climate ambition, Pacifica Achieng Ogola, Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, Kenya, said the Summit will be “all about ambition, ambition, ambition–and action,” and called upon all to “keep preaching the gospel of climate science to make sure everyone gets the message.” She also noted the need to turn challenges into opportunities, citing energy production from waste as an example. Mehmet Emin Birpınar, Vice-Minister of Environment and Urbanization, Turkey, said his personal takeaway from ICCA2019 is that the current generation needs to “apologize to young people and work harder to limit the impacts of climate change.” He noted the UNSG’s call to focus on new commitments on low-emission buildings, mass transportation, urban infrastructure, and resilience for the urban poor. He recognized that “there is no simple answer to the climate threat,” saying partnerships will be key to move forward.

In her closing remarks, Rita Schwarzelühr-Sutter, Parliamentary State Secretary, BMU, said the Heidelberg Outcome will be a blueprint for action and emphasized that revised NDCs should account for subnational action and be aligned with a 1.5 °C pathway. She emphasized ICCA2019 showed that the international community stands ready to foster a just transition to a low-carbon future. Franz Untersteller, Minister for the Environment, Climate, and Energy Sector, Baden-Württemberg, expressed his hope that participants will carry inspiration and motivation gained at ICCA2019 back home. He noted many members of the Under2 Coalition already endorsed the Heidelberg Outcome. Eckart Würzner, Mayor of Heidelberg, called upon participants to “carry the Heidelberg messages” back into their administrations and communities, saying that trust-based collaboration across government levels and with stakeholders will “get us in the right direction.” As a key takeaway, the three co-organizers highlighted that ICCA2019 showed that a lot of solutions already exist, but that cross-level collaboration is needed to further strengthen their roll-out and upscaling.

The Heidelberg Outcome

In the weeks after the conference, a drafting team will finalize the formulation of the Heidelberg Outcome which will send a clear message that collaborative climate action can drive ambition and trigger transformation to swiftly counter the climate crisis in a fair and effective manner. The Declaration will reflect findings from discussions held at the conference, especially in the context of the thematic workshops. It will summarize lessons learned about success factors and barriers to collaborative climate actions and delineate potential leverage points for replicating, scaling up, and speeding up action.

Upcoming Meetings

Eighteenth World Meteorological Congress (Cg-18): The Congress will be held from 3-14 June 2019 at the International Conference Centre of Geneva. Topics for discussions include Global Multi-Hazard Alert System, and Hydrological Status and Outlook System.  dates: 3-14 June 2019  location: Geneva, Switzerland  contact: World Meteorological Organization  Secretariat  www: https://public.wmo.int/en/eighteenth-world-meteorological-congress-cg-18

50th Sessions of the UNFCCC Subsidiary Bodies The 50th sessions of the UNFCCC Subsidiary Bodies will meet in June 2019.  dates: 17-27 June 2019  location: Bonn, Germany  contact: UNFCCC Secretariat  phone: +49-228-815-1000  fax: +49-228-815-1999  email: Secretariat@unfccc.int  www: https://unfccc.int/event/first-sessional-period-sb-50

Resilient Cities 2019: Resilient Cities – The Annual Global Forum on Urban Resilience and Adaptation, which was first launched in 2010, aims to connect local government leaders and climate change adaptation experts to discuss adaptation challenges facing urban environments around the globe and forge partnerships that could have lasting impacts for cities.  dates: 26-28 June 2019  location: Bonn, Germany  contact: ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability   phone +49-228 / 976299-28   email : resilient.cities@iclei.org  www: https://resilientcities2019.iclei.org/

Stocktaking Meeting in Preparation for Climate Action Summit: The United Arab Emirates (UAE) will host a stocktaking meeting in Abu Dhabi, UAE, which will serve as a preparatory meeting for the UNSG Climate Action Summit. The meeting will review the reports of the nine coalitions established under the following Summit tracks: mitigation strategy; social and political drivers; youth and mobilization; energy transition; resilience and adaptation; nature-based solutions; infrastructure, cities and local governments; climate finance and carbon pricing; and industry.  dates: 30 June - 1 July 2019  location: Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates  www: https://sdg.iisd.org/news/nine-coalitions-to-craft-transformative-outcomes-from-climate-summit/

High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) 2019: HLPF 2019 will address the theme ‘Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality.’ It will conduct an in-depth review of SDG 4 (quality education), SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth), SDG 10 (reduced inequalities), SDG 13 (climate action), and SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions), in addition to SDG 17 (partnerships for the Goals), which is reviewed each year.  dates: 9-18 July 2019  location: UN Headquarters, New York  contact: UN Division for Sustainable Development Goals  fax: +1-212-963-4260  email:  https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/contact/ www: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/hlpf/2019

IPCC-50: The 50th session of the IPCC is expected to approve the Summary for Policy Makers (SPM) of the Special Report on Climate Change and Land.  dates: 2-6 August 2019  location: Geneva, Switzerland  phone: +41-22-730-8208/54/84  fax: +41-22-730-8025/13  email: IPCC-Sec@wmo.int  www: http://www.ipcc.ch/calendar

IPCC-51: The 51st session of the IPCC is expected to approve the SPM of the Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate.  dates: 20-23 September 2019  location: Monaco  phone: +41-22-730- 8208/54/84  fax: +41-22-730-8025/13  email: IPCC-Sec@wmo.int  www: http://www.ipcc.ch/calendar

UN 2019 Climate Summit: UN Secretary-General António Guterres will convene the UN Climate Summit under the theme ‘A Race We Can Win. A Race We Must Win,’ to mobilize political and economic energy at the highest levels to advance climate action that will enable the implementation of many of the SDGs. Its aim to challenge states, regions, cities, companies, investors, and citizens to step up action in nine areas: mitigation; social and political drivers; youth and public mobilization; energy transition; climate finance and carbon pricing; industry transition; nature-based solutions; infrastructure, cities and local action; and resilience and adaptation.  date: 23 September 2019  location: UN Headquarters, New York  www: http://www.un.org/climatechange/

SDG Summit: The HLPF, under the auspices of the UN General Assembly, will assess progress achieved so far since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda in September 2015 and provide leadership and guidance on the way forward that would help accelerate implementation of the 2030 Agenda and SDGs.  dates: 24-25 September 2019  location: UN Headquarters, New York  contact: UN Division for Sustainable Development Goals  fax: +1-212-963-4260  www: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgsummit

African Climate Risks Conference 2019: The African Climate Risks Conference 2019 will convene under the theme, ‘Dismantling Barriers to Urgent Climate Adaptation Action.’ The conference will: disseminate results and share insights from new and ongoing climate science and adaptation research in Africa; provide a forum to identify common priorities in African climate research for development through African-led discussions; help ensure greater impact of ongoing research programmes; and link researchers and other actors instrumental in moving research into policy and practice. It will convene in parallel to the eighth Conference on Climate Change and Development in Africa.  dates: 7-9 October 2019  location: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia  email: info@acrc2019.org  www: https://www.africanclimaterisksconference2019.org

2019 UN Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC COP 25): The 25th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 25) to the UNFCCC, the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP), and the second meeting of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA) will convene to review implementation of the Paris Agreement and the Climate Convention.  dates: 2-13 December 2019  location:  Santiago, Chile  contact: UNFCCC Secretariat  phone: +49-228-815-1000  fax : +49-228-815-1999  email: Secretariat@unfccc.int  www: https://unfccc.int

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