First World Congress on Cities and Adaptation Adopts Bonn Declaration

30 May 2010: The first World Congress on Cities and Adaptation to Climate Change, which addressed the theme "Resilient Cities 2010," convened from 28-30 May 2010, in Bonn, Germany. The Congress was organized by ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainable Development, the World Mayors Council on Climate Change and the City of Bonn, and it sought to support the implementation of the UNFCCC Nairobi Work Programme on Adaptation by providing a forum for exchange, learning, networking, debating and policy making on approaches and solutions for climate change adaptation and resilience-building in cities and municipalities, including local adaptation practices.

During the Congress, the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) co-organized a session on "Ensuring food security through adaptation." Approximately 40 participants discussed adaptation approaches for achieving food security, including: diversifying and adapting local and traditional food; securing watershed management; and adapting supply-demand linkages for adequate food supply and processing. Luc Gnacadja, UNCCD Executive Secretary, stressed the importance of agricultural productivity in the drylands, where one third of the world population lives.

During the final plenary panel, Margareta Wahlström, UN Assistant Secretary General for Disaster Risk Reduction, highlighted that the UN does not have an adequate framework for interacting with local governments and noted the need for increasing the space for local governments in the national arena and in global agenda-setting. Underscoring that the poor suffer the most from the impacts of climate change, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer called for support from national governments to help cities address these impacts they have to deal with directly.

The Congress concluded with the Mayors Adaptation Forum signing the Bonn Declaration of Mayors, a roadmap for the World Mayors Council on Climate Change's trajectory toward the 16th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 16) to the UNFCCC in Cancun, Mexico, at the end of 2010, and beyond. In the Declaration, mayors recognize the failure of the UNFCCC COP 15 to deliver a strong and comprehensive post-2012 climate agreement and declare ten action points, including to: prioritize local level adaptation strategies that support local sustainable development; protect the urban poor from the effects of climate change; press for greater local government involvement in international climate negotiations; dedicate more funds to cities' climate adaptation and technical resources; empower local leadership to ensure climate action; and build partnerships with multilateral institutions, national governments, the private sector and civil society.

Also during the Congress, the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UN/ISDR) unveiled its "Making Cities Resilient Campaign," a two-year scheme that seeks to bring more than 1000 local government leaders around the world to sign up for and meet ten recommendations to make their cities more resilient to the impacts of climate change, such as: investing in urban planning; developing infrastructure and building safety; reinforcing drainage systems to reduce flooding; and installing early warning systems. UN/ISDR is coordinating the initiative, in collaboration with the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT), the UN World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF). [UN/ISDR Making Cities Resilient Campaign] [Congress Website] [Nairobi Work Programme on Adaptation] [UNCCD Press Release] [Food Security Session Website]