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C40 Mayors Summit Demonstrates Cities Leading on Climate Change

c40summit7 February 2014: The fifth biennial C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40) Mayors Summit, which was held for the first time in Africa, brought together C40 mayors from around the world to advance urban solutions to global climate change through individual efforts, as well as international engagement and cooperation.

The Summit, which took place in Johannesburg, South Africa, from 4-6 February 2014, convened under the theme ‘Towards resilient and livable megacities – demonstrating action, impact and opportunity.' Plenary sessions focused on issues related to: adaptable and resilient cities; building livable cities; and socioeconomic development of emerging megacities. Urban leaders and sustainability and technical experts shared ideas and experiences, forged new partnerships, and addressed unique problems and challenges faced by cities when confronting climate change.

During the Summit, C40 released 'Climate Action in Megacities Volume 2.o,' a report that outlines significant actions C40 cities are taking to reduce carbon emissions and climate risks, which number over 8,000. C40 Chair and Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes said mayors have “real power to cut emissions and improve climate resilience,” and that “C40's networks and efforts on measurement and reporting are accelerating city-led action at a transformative scale around the world.”

At the Summit, C40 also: expanded its membership by adding three African cities – Dar es-Salaam (Tanzania), Nairobi (Kenya), and Cape Town (South Africa) – bringing the number of C40 cities to 66; launched a programme providing on-the-ground support to cities; and underscored the key role of cities in tackling climate change in a statement to the global community. In addition, over 35 C40 mayors signed a letter urging the UN's Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) to include a specific urban goal among the SDGs.

During the Summit, Michael Bloomberg, former New York City Mayor, C40 Board President and newly-appointed UN Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change, emphasized that cities are at the forefront in tackling climate change. He said progress made by cities in reducing emissions “should encourage national governments to make an increased effort at UN climate talks to agree on a new carbon reduction treaty.”

Addressing the Summit, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres said Bloomberg was “courageous and brave enough,” in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, to “publicly make the link to the growing waves of devastation of climate change.” She recalled COP 19's decision to invite cities and sub-national governments to the negotiations to share best policies and practices. She underscored the role of cities' input into the 2015 global climate agreement, which must respond to the needs of an increasing number of urban dwellers.

While emphasizing progress made by cities in improving livability and combating climate change through, inter alia, improving urban transportation, reducing congestion and air pollution, upgrading homes and buildings, and pursuing smarter infrastructure, she acknowledged lack of progress in integrating cities' efforts with those of national governments. She suggested collaboration through: using international metrics, setting targets and monitoring progress; greening the current finances of cities; and opening the door to commercial funding and private investment that benefits citizens, while increasing resilience and decreasing emissions.

The C40 Climate Leadership Group, initiated in 2005, is a network of leading cities from around the world that are addressing climate change. [C40 Cities Mayors Summit Homepage] [C40 Cities Press Release] [Publication: Climate Action in Megacities 2.0] [Statement of UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres]