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ICCA Bulletin

Volume 173 Number 10 | Monday, 5 October 2015

International Conference on Climate Action: Local Governments Driving Transformation

1-2 October 2015 | Hanover, Germany

Languages: EN (HTML/PDF)
Visit our IISD/ENB+ Meeting Coverage from Hanover, Germany at:

The International Conference on Climate Action (ICCA2015) convened under the theme ‘Local Governments Driving Transformation’ in Hanover, Germany, from 1-2 October 2015. Hosted by Germany’s Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB), the Ministry for Environment, Energy and Climate Protection of Lower Saxony, Germany, and the German Institute of Urban Affairs (Difu), the conference attracted over 400 participants.

The conference took place on the heels of the UN Sustainable Development Summit and in the lead-up to the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 21) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to be held in Paris, France, from 30 November – 11 December 2015. In light of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted at the UN Sustainable Development Summit and the universal climate agreement that is expected to be adopted at COP 21, ICCA2015 focused largely on bridging the divide between subnational governments and decision making at the intergovernmental level. Throughout the two-day event, participants highlighted the leading role of subnational actors in fighting climate change and formulated messages for negotiators at COP 21.

On Thursday, 1 October, ICCA2015 began in plenary, followed by a panel on climate diplomacy and the opening of the ‘Climate Neighbourhoods’ exhibit. The exhibit allowed participants to explore projects from municipalities, schools, networks and research institutions, and featured a ‘Science Lab’ on research originating from the state of Lower Saxony. In the afternoon, participants heard from a panel on local climate action at its best, followed by an award ceremony honoring the 2015 recipients of the German Climate Action Award for Local Government.

On Friday morning, 2 October, a high-level panel addressed the topic of local action for solutions. In the afternoon, participants shared informal reflections from the conference and heard the conference conclusions in a closing plenary. The Climate Neighbourhoods programme continued in parallel throughout the day, with a presentation of youth and education projects, a youth theater production, a Forum on Food and Culture, a “walk and talk” press event with Barbara Hendricks, Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety, Germany, and a “fishbowl discussion” with students.

On both Thursday and Friday, 18 facilitated workshops grouped under six different clusters took place, the results of which shaped the ‘Hanover Declaration: Local Action Driving Transformation,’ which captured the conference outcomes and whose message will be delivered to participants at COP 21.


The international political response to climate change began in 1992 with the adoption of the UNFCCC, which sets out a legal framework for 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, has 196 parties.

Subsequently, the Kyoto Protocol, negotiated under the Convention, was adopted in 1997 and entered into force in 2005. Under the Protocol, industrialized countries and countries in transition to a market economy committed to emission reduction targets during an initial commitment period from 2008-2012.

The Cancun Agreements, agreed in 2010 during COP 16, recognized the need for deep cuts in global emissions in order to limit global average temperature rise to 2°C above pre-industrial levels.

A second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol, spanning from 2013-2020, was agreed to at COP 18 through the Doha Amendment; however, the Amendment has yet to receive enough ratifications to enter into force.

Parties to the UNFCCC are now in the process of negotiating a new, universal climate change agreement to take effect in 2020, which is expected to be adopted at COP 21 in Paris, France.

The role of local, subnational and regional governments in these international negotiations, and in combating climate change more generally, has been gaining prominence as many cities, provinces and states have forged innovative solutions for implementing mitigation and adaptation actions within their jurisdictions. Notably, at the 2014 Climate Summit, hosted by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to support and complement the UNFCCC negotiations, cities were featured as one of eight climate action areas. At the Summit, over 2,000 cities committed to take further action on climate change by reducing emissions by 454 megatons by 2020 through the Compact of Mayors.

In addition to taking part in the Climate Summit, subnational leaders from around the world have come together through various regional and global climate change forums and networks. For example, in 2005, the US Mayors Climate Protection Agreement was launched. In 2007, a coalition of city networks created the Local Government Climate Roadmap to ensure the design and implementation of a strong and ambitious post-2015 global climate regime. In 2008, the European Commission launched the Covenant of Mayors, under which over 6,500 local and regional governments in the European Union (EU) have voluntarily committed to increasing energy efficiency and use of renewable energy sources in their territories, and aim to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 20% by 2020.

Subnational governments also adopted the Global Cities Covenant on Climate (‘The Mexico City Pact’) in 2010 and the Nantes Declaration of Mayors and Subnational Leaders on Climate Change in 2013. Many cities, states, provinces and other subnational governments opt to track their commitments in the Carbonn Registry, launched by the Mexico City Pact, and the Non-State Actor Zone for Climate Action (NAZCA), established at COP 20 in 2014 in Lima, Peru.

In 2015, several large meetings brought local leaders together to discuss sustainable urban development and subnational climate action, including the EU Capitals and Large Cities Meeting on Climate in March in Paris, France, when European capitals and major cities signed a declaration agreeing to undertake green public procurement and climate change policies. ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI) convened the ICLEI World Congress in April in Seoul, Republic of Korea, and the sixth Resilient Cities Congress in June in Bonn, Germany. The former discussed the development of urban sustainability, while the latter focused on resilience and adaptation to the impacts of climate change in urban areas.

On 25 September 2015, the UN General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including 17 SDGs, at the UN Sustainable Development Summit in New York City, US. SDG11 and SDG13 deal with cities and climate, respectively, stating: “Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable” and “Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.”

It is within this context that the Ministry for Environment, Energy and Climate Protection of Lower Saxony and BMUB decided to host ICCA2015 in the run-up to COP 21 to highlight local sustainable development and climate initiatives and elevate the voices of local governments in the process of creating the post-2020 global climate regime. ICCA2015, the idea of which was conceived by the two ministries in 2014, builds on previous efforts and ongoing work where Germany, through its National Climate Initiative, has invested in exchange and knowledge management on local climate action, nationally and internationally, such as through the Climate Dialogue project, and by highlighting best practices through Difu’s Climate Action Award for Local Government.



On Thursday morning, Stefan Wenzel, Minister for Environment, Energy and Climate Mitigation, Lower Saxony, Germany, welcomed participants and underscored the need for “deep-rooted change” to tackle climate change technically, economically and institutionally. Suggesting a focus on local action at COP 21, he stated that local communities serve as fields of experimentation to pilot new innovations, pointing to the efforts of mayors and local governments to reduce GHG emissions and civic initiatives, such as the Transition Town Movement and renewable energy cooperatives. He underscored that cities and local communities offer examples of tackling the “seemingly impossible task” of climate change.

Jochen Flasbarth, State Secretary, BMUB, explained that ICCA2015 was organized in the run-up to COP 21 to highlight the role of local communities, contribute inputs to the negotiations and trigger action. He suggested that we must “think and act globally and locally,” working together at all levels, to rise to the challenge of climate change. He expressed confidence that an agreement would be reached in Paris, citing technological improvements, an influx of intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) from parties and growing awareness. He added that, while current INDCs will not be enough to prevent warming of 2°C above pre-industrial levels, they will inspire a “competition” among countries to put their best ideas and efforts forward.

Philippe Etienne, Ambassador of France to Germany, discussed preparations of the incoming French Presidency for COP 21, and emphasized that, to ensure success in Paris, mobilization must continue in earnest and all stakeholders must be involved. He said the goals for COP 21 are ambitious, but that they must be since the problem is massive. Noting that France spends €3 billion annually fighting climate change through bilateral and multilateral channels, he underscored the French Government’s commitment to make COP 21 a success. He called on cities and local authorities to register their climate change commitments with the NAZCA platform.

Henri Djombo, Minister for Sustainable Development, Forestry Economy and the Environment, Republic of Congo, lamented that while Africa is responsible for a small percentage of GHG emissions, the continent is subject to the worst impacts of climate change. Calling for an ambitious agreement in Paris, he highlighted that the Earth itself is not threatened; rather, it is humanity whose existence is at stake. He called for transformative action that will consider different levels of development, expand electricity access in Africa and foster inclusive green growth.

Joan Clos, Executive Director, UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), lauded the approval of the SDGs, notably a focus on cities and human settlements. He referred to 2016’s Habitat III Conference and noted that in the next 30 years approximately 70% of the global population will reside in cities. Indicating that 98% of growth will occur in the developing world, he called for a connection between development and urbanization, while pointing to statistics in Africa, which indicate that the energy consumption of citizens increases 10 fold when migrating from rural to urban areas. He suggested cities prepare for this growing demand and its implications.


This panel opened with video footage from UN climate change conferences dating back to COP 15 in Copenhagen in 2009. Andrea Steckert, Pestel-Institut, and Inka Schneider, TV journalist, co-moderated the panel.

Sven Ambrosy, Regional Commissioner, District of Friesland, Germany, kicked off the panel by commenting on expectations for COP 21 outcomes. He called for clear-cut regulations and noted the need for hope and motivation, recalling the dire mood after Copenhagen.

 Two youth activists, Hendrik Laufenberg and Sophia Dorenkamp, youthinkgreen, said they hoped their ideas would be taken to a higher level, and called for clear structures that hold States to their commitments.

Imanuel Schipper, Director, Rimini-Protokoll (theater group), presented the background, concept and video footage of an interactive play, ‘World Climate Change Conference,’ recently performed at a Hamburg theater. He explained that the audience is able to participate in the play, taking on the role of country delegates and putting forward emission reduction commitments for 2020 and 2050 and financial pledges. An abbreviated version of this exercise was then carried out with ICCA2015 participants. At the end of the mini simulation, the “pledges,” despite being offered by conference members advocating for ambitious climate action, were not sufficient to prevent warming of 2°C above pre-industrial levels.

Schneider then moderated a formal discussion on the intergovernmental climate negotiations and the current state of play under the UNFCCC.

 Commenting on the negotiation process and key players, Franzjosef Schafhausen, Director General, Climate Change Policy Europe and International Affairs, BMUB, described how countries coordinate their positions in like-minded or regional groups so as to have more impact than if they took their positions up individually. He noted that the “convincing” of other parties often must be done between formal negotiating sessions.

Monika Zimmermann, Deputy Secretary General, ICLEI, emphasized that national delegations take the decisions and have a place at the table, yet local governments are the implementers, and thus should not be left at the “side table.” She called for national governments to be as ambitious as, and recognize the relevance of, cities, whose involvement is not formally acknowledged in most countries. She raised the point that the agreement will not take effect until 2020, leaving a five-year gap to fill.

Hermann Ott, Senior Advisor for Global Sustainability and Welfare Strategies, Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy, advised that while members of parliament initially play an observing role, they should be involved early in the process, since treaties have to be ratified by parliaments later. He observed that finding consensus among the 196 UNFCCC parties is quite difficult and advocated for a new agreement among “a vanguard of countries” that want to take action. He added that the outcome of COP 21 will not be sufficient to stop climate change, noting it will lack substance if individual country commitments are not included in the core agreement.

Minister Stefan Wenzel, Lower Saxony, noted that 196 parties working together results in longer and longer texts for negotiation. He said the complexity of the negotiations, which makes it difficult for other stakeholders and journalists to understand, drives people away.

Miranda Schreurs, Freie Universität’s Environmental Policy Research Centre, cautioned that decisions in many places have been taken at one level without thinking about the changes that will be required at other levels. While admitting that the Paris agreement will not be sufficient, she said it was important to secure as a starting point to build from and strengthen.

Nick Reimer, Editor-in-Chief,, described the wealth of observers working to bring their influence to bear on the process, from women and industry, to scientists and environmental organizations.

The question and answer period touched on population growth, with Schreurs emphasizing the importance of education for women.


Three workshop sessions took place during the conference, two on Thursday and one on Friday. During each session, six workshops ran in parallel, grouped under six clusters: agents of change; governance; finance; infrastructure; ecosystems; and networks and groups. IISD RS covered the following workshops as summarized below. Their corresponding clusters are indicated in parentheses. Descriptions of all the workshops can be found at:

PIONEERING LOCAL CLIMATE ACTION (AGENTS OF CHANGE): Martin Beer, City of Flensburg, Germany, moderated this workshop, guided by three questions on: risks and benefits of being a pioneer; experience sharing and transfer; and how cities contribute to national targets. Following presentations, participants broke into small groups to discuss the experiences of: Vaxjö, Sweden; Hanover, Germany; Herten/Arras, Germany; and Cape Town, South Africa.

On the risks and benefits of being a pioneer, participants stated: risks include that initially cities rely on new, less-tested and initially-costly technologies before they become mainstream; and benefits include access to national or EU funding to pilot new climate innovations and reputations as local climate action leaders.

On experience sharing and transfer, including how to connect with stakeholders, participants suggested: engaging stakeholders early on, such as industrial actors, non-governmental organizations and neighborhood cooperatives, to understand and engage in local climate actions. They also suggested that less-pioneering cities visit pioneers to learn technical and process innovations.

On how cities can contribute to national targets, participants noted that cities can show what is possible or profitable at the local level, as well as what can be scaled up.

Closing remarks reflected that: cities have different drivers to motivate climate action, such as energy security; leading by example is more difficult without support; local climate actions require an emphasis on “learning by doing” and being open to making mistakes; cities have to balance short- and long-term planning; and cities should support inclusive pathways, maximizing co-benefits.

CAPACITIES FOR LOCAL CLIMATE ACTION (AGENTS OF CHANGE): Moderator Marcus Andreas, adelphi, asked participants what capacities local climate managers need and how to support continuous capacity development.

Acknowledging many players are responsible for local climate protection, Hans Hertle, Institute for Energy and Environmental Research Heidelberg (Ifeu), suggested continuous climate change education, focusing on soft skills and technology.

Calling climate change a complex problem requiring many skills, Daniel Willeke, Difu, introduced a national programme to train local climate managers through courses, focusing on carbon footprint, mobility, consumption, efficiency and public relations.

Cord Remke, Rural Adult Education, presented on adult education training on climate change, noting considerable interest.  

Referring to working with local administrations in British Colombia, Canada, Svend Anderson, GHG Consulting, presented tools and methods, including a web-based toolkit and quantification methods.

Priscella Mejillano, UN-Habitat, presented efforts in the Philippines, noting their working nexus: local/urban development; urban mitigation; and disaster resilience. She recognized capacity gaps, including limited appreciation and expertise, and stakeholder engagement via citywide consultation processes.

Julia Schirrmacher, University of Flensburg, presented research on investigating change agents, underscoring the role of networks and formal and informal knowledge.

LOCAL CLIMATE ACTION AS AN INTRODUCTION TO TRANSFORMATION PROCESSES (GOVERNANCE): Klaus Hoppe, Klaus Hoppe Consulting, moderated the workshop and introduced three guiding questions on: achieving a win-win at multiple levels; leveraging potentials and addressing obstacles to create synergies; and optimizing transformation processes.

Benson Ochieng, Executive Director, Institute for Law and Environmental Governance, presented on the changing role of local administrations in Kenya, in the context of Kenya’s new constitution, including an emphasis on stakeholder engagement and a focus on integrated county development plans. Indicating that Kenyans are beginning to understand their power, he identified two priorities: promoting local entrepreneurship; and institutional innovation.

Hoppe described the similar aspects of playing soccer and addressing climate change, such as planning, strategy, intuition and teamwork, to achieve goals. Both feats, he implied, are unpredictable, complex, require cooperation, coordination and communication, and are played by risk savvy and risk adverse types, including interactions with multiple players, leading to “serendipitous” outcomes. With this in mind, participants broke into small “teams” to plan local climate action strategies.

ADDRESSING CHALLENGES OF CLIMATE ACTION IN THE CONTEXT OF THE ENERGIEWENDE (GOVERNANCE): Moderated by Christian Jacobs, Ministry for the Environment, Energy and Climate Protection, Lower Saxony, this workshop considered the example of Germany’s energy transition (Energiewende) to clean sources of power and heat. Speakers identified challenges and success factors in managing an energy transition, using the cases of the US’s Clean Power Plan and India’s goal of reaching 175 gigawatts of installed renewable energy by 2022.

Emma Zinsmeister, US Diplomatic Mission to Germany, described how environmental regulation conducted in partnership with subnational governments provides flexibility, especially in a large geographic area with diverse priorities, and makes for more effective regulation.

Timon Herzog, German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), said that Indian cities often welcome distributed power generation as a way to relieve congested power lines. He underscored that India is coping with rapid population and electricity demand growth, lack of electricity access for over 300 million citizens, load shedding and up to 30% transmission and distribution losses.

The workshop highlighted successful experiences where a broad, high-level programme supported local communities to implement their own strategies. Participants called for increasing this support at the local level as a best practice in managing transformation processes.

CLIMATE-FRIENDLY MOBILITY IN RURAL AREAS (INFRASTRUCTURE): Moderator Jörg Thiemann-Linden, Thiemann-Linden Office of City and Mobility, said the main bottleneck is knowledge of good practices and thus informative examples would be the focus of the workshop. Gunnar Heipp, International Association of Public Transport (UITP), presented a tool that allows users to compare their costs of transportation when deciding whether to live in a rural or an urban area. Timo Barwisch, plan:mobil, noted migration to cities can mitigate transportation emissions, as urban dwellers generally travel shorter distances. Noting that projects implemented in one place cannot always be transferred without modification to another locale, Barwisch presented examples of good practices and lessons learned.

One successful rural initiative Barwisch described was a flexible bus service that does not follow a timetable, but rather allows users to call for pick-ups and stops for drop-offs anywhere requested. Another system he described saved costs by using one bus to run multiple routes during the week, serving some cities or shopping centers on certain days of the week and others on the remaining days. He explained that car sharing or “professional hitchhiking” was found to be less successful, largely due to perceptions that it is dangerous. However, he noted that in a very small village of about 100 inhabitants, a very popular car-sharing arrangement arose organically and was met with much enthusiasm. Barwisch emphasized that the success of a public transit initiative depends on good marketing for the entire duration of the project.

CLIMATE ACTION AS PART OF THE NEW URBAN AGENDA (INFRASTRUCTURE): Vera Rodenhoff, BMUB, moderated the workshop and presented Germany’s position for Habitat III, which emphasizes: recognizing and empowering cities and municipalities as development actors; focusing on livable cities; and advocating integrated urban development.

Raf Tuts, UN-Habitat, placed the SDGs and COP 21 in an urban context, noting how they will influence Habitat III and the New Urban Agenda, which will also offer a platform to explore SDG implementation. Calling for national urban policies to support cities, he underscored that only 30 countries have such policies.

Monika Zimmerman, ICLEI, underscored a link between local and global levels, while calling for stronger links to the national level. She suggested that Habitat III and the New Urban Agenda serve as a commitment of national governments to empower local governments to work on low-carbon urban development. Zimmerman highlighted urban climate actions at COP 21, such as, inter alia: the Transformative Actions Program platform to demonstrate the engagement of cities; the Cities and Regions Climate Pavilion; the Cities Summit organized by Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo; and the Carbonn Climate Registry.

Other panelists raised several examples from UN-Habitat Vietnam, Xalapa, Mexico, and Dresden, Germany, emphasizing, inter alia: urbanization from a Global South perspective, and rapid urban growth patterns in Africa and Asia; linkages between population growth, urban sprawl and the need for integrated planning policies; the need for dedicated financial support for local climate actions; and integrated people-centered approaches to urban development that address immigration and gender concerns and climate-justice.

SMALL ISLANDS TAKING CLIMATE ACTION (ECOSYSTEMS): Moderator Ashley Good, Fail Forward, introduced two questions: how to learn from crisis and failure; and how small islands and others can develop resilience in dealing with failures. She introduced several speakers who presented on: disadvantages of not engaging stakeholders early enough; faulty infrastructure projects; and vulnerabilities from a lack of disaster planning.

Participants broke into small groups, later reconvening to discuss key lessons, including: failing provides a chance to learn and begin anew; failing is complex; encouraging openness to allow people to fail; relearning to work together; not being afraid to quit if something does not work; and taking responsibility for failure, and that if failure is externalized fewer options exist for learning. Good noted that when dealing with complex and emerging challenges such as climate change, uncertainty remains, requiring additional learning, which can be overwhelming. She encouraged participants to be open to failure, as well as to the opportunity it presents for learning.


TABLE TALK: LOCAL CLIMATE ACTION AT ITS BEST: On Thursday evening, Inka Schneider, TV journalist, moderated a roundtable of local German leaders. Underscoring the importance of garnering local support for national and international objectives, Franzjosef Schafhausen, BMUB, suggested that all the climate actions taken to date would have had just half the impact if only a top-down approach had been followed.

Roland Schäfer, Mayor, Bergkamen, and President, German Association of Towns and Communities (DStGB), cited the deliberate exchange of information between cities and the institutional framework that is enabling cities to connect at both the regional and international level.

Bernhard Reuter, District Administrator, Göttingen, and Vice-President, German Association of District Councils (DLT), highlighted the importance of securing a successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol and added that German districts want to contribute to international efforts by providing best practices for other districts. He said districts can play a “pioneering” role, providing a shining example in the field of actions.

Stefan Schostok, Mayor of Hanover, described a pioneering project from Hanover, the Expo 2000 project, which created a residential settlement of low-energy buildings. He said its success helped the city initiate new projects, including a ‘Zero E’ park where 300 passive houses are being built.

AWARDS: Rita Schwarzelühr-Sutter, Parliamentary State Secretary, BMUB, introduced the Climate Action Award for Local Government highlighting that in 2015 there were 119 applications, of which nine projects were selected. Commending local action, she referred to Germany’s goal to reduce GHG emissions by 40% by 2020, compared to the EU target of 2030, and underscored that cities and towns will play an important role in meeting this. Underscoring the importance of funding support to establish and implement climate plans, she referred to a national funding programme for local climate action and noted several target areas, including mobility and LED lighting.

Schneider noted that, since 2009, 55 awards have been presented, with €1.5 million in prizes. She introduced the three categories, recognizing that the nine recipients would each receive €25,000.

Detlef Raphael, Councilor of the Association of German Cities, noted 45 applications had been submitted in the category ‘Local Climate Action through Cooperation’ with many future-oriented projects, and identifed the winners as: Beckum for a project on inter-firm cooperation for energy independence; Siegen for establishing an energy efficiency association; and Rheinberg for a transnational cooperation on climate protection among 11 Dutch and German cities in the Rhein-Waal region.

Reuter introduced the award on ‘Local Energy and Climate Action Management,’ noting the submission of 15 applications in the areas of, inter alia, climate-friendly procurement and awareness raising. He identified the winners as: Landkreis Oldenburg for a project on gathering and reporting energy consumption data; Mannheim for “FlurfunkE,” a project to motivate climate-friendly behavior among employees; and Samtgemeinde Harsefeld for an energy-saving sewage treatment plant.

Schäfer introduced the award on ‘Local Climate Actions through Participation,’ noting 59 applications had been submitted in such areas as behavior and consumption. He identified the winners as: Landkreis Northeim, where neighboring villages compete on climate actions; Offenbach am Main for energy efficiency advising; and Landkreis Traunstein for a German-Austrian traveling expo that teaches kids about protecting the climate through consumption choices.


This panel took place on Friday morning and was moderated by Inka Schneider, TV journalist. Achim Steiner, Executive Director, UN Environment Programme, addressed participants via a video message from UN Headquarters in New York, where he said he had witnessed the “remarkable development” of the adoption of the SDGs a week prior. He said the SDGs provide a new framework for countries around the world to refocus their development strategies. Noting the challenge of taking high-level goals and making them real and actionable, he said local governments have the capacity to make things happen.

Minister Stefan Wenzel, Lower Saxony, highlighted the role youth played at ICCA2015, especially during the second day, when they invited everyone to add their messages for COP 21 to a model Eiffel Tower. He expressed concern that the lowest common denominator would be agreed in Paris, and said preparatory efforts and an effective strategy are important to ensure local governments’ messages are heard.

Martin zur Nedden, President, Difu, said the conference made clear that involving people is essential to building a climate-conscious society. He highlighted that it is at the local level where people see and feel what is happening, and thus local authorities can be most persuasive in galvanizing action.

Minister Barbara Hendricks, BMUB, called for a way of life that respects the ecological boundaries of our planet. She supported efforts to “link up across borders and learn from each other” and suggested ICCA2015 should not be a one-off event. She promised to take the diverse ideas and voices heard at the Climate Neighborhoods exhibit, as well as the Hanover Declaration, to Paris. She reported some positive developments in the UNFCCC process, including the announcement of India’s INDC for the post-2020 climate regime, and that the announced INDCs by 146 countries to date cover over 85% of global emissions. She quoted Pope Francis, whose encyclical Laudato Si’ states, “We are faced not with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather with one complex crisis which is both social and environmental,” and said the SDGs and climate go “hand-in-hand.” Convinced that limiting climate change is a prerequisite for fighting poverty, preventing war and fostering development, she predicted that, in the future, cities will only be attractive to companies and new residents if they take climate change seriously.

Underscoring Africa’s vulnerability to climate change, Minister Henri Djombo, Republic of Congo, introduced his country’s sustainable development strategy, which includes a focus on participation. Highlighting the forestry sector, he presented efforts focused on forestry management, reforestation and the promotion of conservation tourism.

Stating that governments do not need to create change, but to create the conditions under which change can flourish, Rob Hopkins, Transition Network, noted 21 stories of “meaningful change processes” from network members, including examples of communities using local currencies to support circular economies, reductions in car travel by some 1.3 million miles, energy cooperatives and repair cafes.

Stating that never before has the reality of climate change been more conspicuous, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, underscored an emerging “culture of responsibility” and climate ethic, and a patchwork of different activities to address climate change. He noted even enlightened political leaders need to be supported and encouraged by citizens to take action on climate change.

Panelists then addressed, inter alia: the need for citizen feedback in political processes; deep democracy and inclusion to support citizen engagement in local climate actions; clear messages on climate action; responsibilities starting with families and individuals; a greater focus on capacity building; and the use of alternative building materials, replacing concrete with wood for carbon-neutral building processes.

Minister Hendricks closed the panel, suggesting further collaboration with Minister Djombo, for example on local energy projects.


Inka Schneider, TV journalist, introduced a video message from Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris, France, who welcomed delegates to COP 21 and called climate change both a problem and an opportunity. Noting approximately 70% of GHG emissions comes from cities, she identified concrete examples in Paris and called for a new way to share and preserve the planet.

Karsten Sach, Deputy Director-General for International Cooperation, BMUB, and Minister Stefan Wenzel, Lower Saxony, moderated the conference conclusions, presented in the six clusters.

For the Agents of Change Cluster, Olav Hohmeyer, Flensburg University, summarized key messages, notably that pioneering cities and communities are far more advanced than international politics and that COP 21 should look to cities for more ambitious targets.

For the Governance Cluster, Berthold Goeke, BMUB, summarized key messages, suggesting that governance systems recognize the need for local climate actions, as well as support for them. He called for structural changes, but expressed caution regarding potential negative side effects of transitions.

For the Finance Cluster, Ben Finkelstein, Climate Action Secretariat and Ministry of Environment, British Columbia, Canada, recapped discussions, highlighting the challenge an infrastructure deficit poses for cities, adding that climate change will only make the investments needed more costly. Because climate change affects all issues local governments address, he urged integrating funds for climate action across all departments and accounting for the value of ecosystem services in budget processes. He advocated for the “quick, seamless and transparent” transfer of tax dollars from national to local governments.

For the Infrastructure Cluster, Holger Robrecht, ICLEI European Secretariat, called urban infrastructure the “hardware of transformation” which can deliver mitigation and adaptation and/or exacerbate climate change. Noting the complexity of infrastructure planning and the long duration of infrastructure projects, he questioned whether local governments will make the switch to a transformative path or remain on the conventional path. He said participants agreed that climate action should become a fundamental service of local governments.

For the Ecosystems Cluster, Chantal Van Ham, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), said the main message is that great potential exists for using ecosystems for adaptation and mitigation, noting their tremendous value not only for the climate but also for humanity. She called ecosystems “angel investors” as they are very valuable but often invisible, and highlighted that solutions through ecosystems are often extremely cost-effective.

For the Networks and Groups Cluster, Svenja Schuchmann, Climate Alliance, summed up discussions on multinational and regional cooperation among local governments, town “twinning” partnerships and harmonization efforts. She called for supporting these networks at the national level and for involving subnational governments, especially those that have not yet progressed very far in combating climate change. Commenting on challenges, she cited language barriers that hinder meaningful exchange and the longer timeframe generally required to demonstrate results.

Lothar Nolte, Managing Director, Lower Saxony Climate and Energy Agency, together with Emma Weglage, Kilian Thiel and Vanessa Kalisch, three youth from youthinkgreen, then presented the Eiffel Tower project that sought to gather all stakeholders’ voices to send a clear message to leaders at COP 21. A mirror had been added to the project so that politicians must look at their faces and ask themselves, “Have we done something good for climate protection? Have we come up with a good agreement as so many have asked us to do?”

Thanking participants for having shown what is possible at the local level, Sach confirmed that the message of the Hanover Declaration would be delivered in Paris at a COP 21 side event.

Congratulating the vanguard of community “initiators” who have already realized what the future can look like, Wenzel promised that the spirit of Hanover would be carried into the future, possibly through subsequent events like ICCA2015. Alluding to climate justice and the many challenges ahead, he underscored that the conference had illustrated the power of local communities and initiatives to forge innovative solutions. He closed the meeting at 3:31 pm.


HANOVER DECLARATION: LOCAL ACTION DRIVING TRANSFORMATION: The Hanover Declaration acknowledges the importance of preventing warming of more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels and builds on the newly adopted SDGs. It encourages more prominent attention to local climate actions at COP 21 and within Habitat III’s New Urban Agenda.

The Declaration, noting ICCA2015’s key goal of showcasing successful examples of local climate policy and actions, recognizes the fundamental role and real leadership of local authorities in facilitating local climate actions on mitigation and adaptation. It suggests a need for transformative processes, including through energy transition (Energiewende) and a focus on communication, continuous learning and capacity building.

The Hanover Declaration calls for political strategies tailored to recognize, encourage and enable local authorities’ climate actions by:

  • setting ambitious targets;
  • establishing appropriate frameworks, including legal and financial conditions, at the national and international levels, which enable local authority climate leadership;
  • creating incentives for all local authorities; and
  • providing long-term and predictable finance.

Recommendations to steer and implement effective local climate strategies are further specified in six categories, as discussed at ICCA2015: Agents of Change; Governance; Finance; Infrastructure, Adaptation and Urban Development; Ecosystems; and Networks and Groups.

The Declaration is available at:


Ecocity World Summit (ECWS) 2015: Hosted in the Middle East for the first time, the Summit will focus on making cities more livable. Speakers and participants will include representatives from local, regional and national governments, academia, international organizations, the private sector and civil society. ECWS, also known as the International Ecocity Conference Series, was first held in 1990 and is the longest running conference for ecological city design.  dates: 11-13 October 2015  location: Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates  contact: ECWS Abu Dhabi Head Office  email: www:

Local Climate Solutions for Africa Congress 2015: ICLEI is organizing this biennial event as a platform for local African leaders to consolidate their vision, position and partnerships for accelerated climate action. The Congress will feature a high-level segment on Urban Leadership for African Sustainability, as well as plenaries, thematic sessions and field trips.  dates: 13-15 October 2015  location: Durban, South Africa  contact: ICLEI  phone: +27-21-202-0381  email: www:

Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) 2-11: The eleventh part of the second session of the ADP will convene to continue negotiations under the UNFCCC for a 2015 universal agreement on climate change and for a decision on enhancing pre-2020 ambition.  dates: 19-23 October 2015  location: Bonn, Germany  contact: UNFCCC Secretariat  phone: +49-228-815-1000  fax: +49-228-815-1999  email: www:

Fifth Climate Change and Development Conference (CCDA-V): To support Africa’s preparedness for COP 21, CCDA-V will be held on the theme ‘Africa, Climate Change and Sustainable Development: What Is at Stake at Paris and beyond?’ and will be the culmination of climate change dialogues across the continent. CCDA-V will contribute to the development of common African positions in the global climate governance regime, as well as anticipate the outcomes of COP 21 and initiate preparations for their implementation. The event is organized under the auspices of the Climate for Development in Africa (ClimDev-Africa) Programme, which is a consortium of the African Union Commission, the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the African Development Bank.  dates: 28-30 October 2015  location: Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe  contact: Jacqueline Chenje, Communications Officer, Africa Climate Policy Centre, UNECA  phone: +251-11-544-3489  email: www:

World Cities Day: Coordinated by UN-Habitat, the second annual World Cities Day will convene under the theme ‘Designed to Live Together.’ As designated by the UN General Assembly, the annual day is intended to promote the international community’s interest in global urbanization.  date: 31 October 2015  location: Milan, Italy  contact: UN-Habitat Events and Outreach Unit  phone: +254-20-7621234  email: www:

UNFCCC COP 21: The Paris Climate Change Conference will include COP 21, the 43rd sessions of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation and the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice, and ADP 2-12. In addition, Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris, and Michael Bloomberg, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change, will co-chair the Climate Summit for Local Leaders on 4 December. Cities and Local Governments Day will be celebrated on 7 December, and the Local Government Pavilion will be open to visitors throughout the two-week conference.  dates: 30 November – 11 December 2015  location: Paris, France  contact: UNFCCC Secretariat  phone: +49-228-815-1000  fax: +49-228-815-1999  email: www:

76th Session of the Committee on Housing and Land Management (CHLM) of the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE): UNECE’s CHLM will hold its 76th session to review its work and discuss issues involving housing, land management and urban development, including standards for energy efficiency in housing and smart cities, and implementation of the Strategy for Sustainable Housing and Land Management in the ECE Region for the Period 2014-2020. The session will also agree on CHLM input into Habitat III.  dates: 14-16 December 2015  location: Geneva, Switzerland [tentative]  contact: Gulnara Roll, Head, Housing and Land Management Unit, UNECE Secretariat  phone: +41-22-917-2257  email: www:

Habitat III: The Third UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) aims to secure renewed political commitment for sustainable urban development, assess progress and accomplishments to date, address poverty, and identify and address new and emerging challenges. The conference is expected to result in an action-oriented outcome document and the establishment of the New Urban Agenda.  dates: 17-21 October 2016  location: Quito, Ecuador  contact: UN-Habitat  phone: +1-917-367-4355  email: www:

C40 Mayors Summit 2016: This summit will highlight the leadership role of cities in addressing climate change, bringing together mayors from all over the world to examine urban solutions to a global problem. Urban and sustainability experts will also take part, contributing to data-driven and outcome-focused roundtables and working sessions. The Summit will feature best practices in areas, such as building energy efficiency, low-carbon transport, green growth and climate resilience.  dates: 8-11 November 2016 location: Mexico City, Mexico  contact: C40 Cities  email: www:

Ninth World Urban Forum (WUF9): Convened by UN-Habitat, WUF9 will bring together thousands of stakeholders to share practices and knowledge on how cities are built, planned and managed. Key objectives of the Forum include: advocating for and raising awareness on sustainable urban development; advancing knowledge on sustainable urbanization through debates and exchange of experiences and best practices; and coordinating and cooperating within and between different constituencies towards advancing and implementing the Habitat Agenda.  date: 2018, exact dates TBA  location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia  contact: UN-Habitat  phone: +254-20-7621234  email: www:

For additional meetings, see