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UN Officials Recognize Cities’ Role in Addressing Climate Change

21 November 2013: The Warsaw Climate Change Conference celebrated 'Cities Day of the High Level Segment,' in recognition of the role of cities in combatting climate change. Cities Day encompassed a number of events, including a Conference of the Parties (COP) Presidency ‘Cities and Subnational Dialogue.'

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon described cities as “the proving ground for our efforts to combat climate change, build resilience and achieve faster, more equitable development progress” in his remarks at the COP Presidency event. He said the complexity of cities makes “it difficult to channel urban issues into the climate discussion in a coherent way” and called for cooperation, innovation and scaling up to deliver a global transformation that results in “thriving economies, a healthier planet, sustainable cities and a life of dignity for all.”

unfcc-unitednations-unhabitatUN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) Deputy Executive Director, Aisa Kirabo Kacyira, said local authorities are ready to act on climate change, but need strong frameworks within which to work and budgets to achieve their goals. She called for "establishing mechanisms to give qualified local authorities more direct access to international sources of climate finance." Rachel Kyte, World Bank, recommended supporting sub-national leaders to address climate change through basic regulations, finance and national frameworks.

Speakers also discussed recognition of sub-national and local issues within the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) text. Christiana Figueres, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Executive Secretary, recognized delegates' disappointment with the most recent version of the ADP text, which reduced emphasis on subnational actors. David Cadmen, President, ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI), urged the Polish presidency to reintroduce text to raise the profile of local and sub-national climate actors and actions.

Additional events included: an ICLEI event, 'Local Government Climate Roadmap 2013-2013: Raising the Global Level of Ambition Through Local Climate Action;' 'Momentum for Change Urban Poor Pillar Lighthouse Activities,' which highlighted activities that address climate change and improve livelihoods and living conditions in urban areas of developing countries; and a UN-HABITAT event showcasing 'UN Agencies supporting climate smart cities.'

The COP Presidency, the UNFCCC Secretariat and the City of Warsaw organized the day. [UN-HABITAT Press Release on Cities Day] [IISD RS coverage of COP 19 Side Events] [UN Secretary-General Statement] [ICLEI Website on Cities Day] [Cities Day Agenda] [Momentum for Change Urban Poor Website]