COP21 Agreement Welcomes Participation of Cities and Regions
The most recent draft agreement of COP21 was published late Thursday evening, and includes a brief note on welcoming cities, regions and other non-national entities in the climate change mitigation and adaptation work ahead. Mistra Urban Futures has participated in the preparations e.g. through the Nordic Mayors Initiative.
David Simon, Director of Mistra Urban Futures, attended the COP21 global climate summit in Paris last week, participating in a side event, ‘National government, Nordic Cities and Mayors Looking beyond Paris’ that was held in the pavilion of the Nordic Council of Ministers. The event symbolised the coalitions of interests around the importance of multi-level governance for effective action on climate change. First off was Mehmet Kaplan, the Swedish Minister of Housing and Urban Development, a veteran of Habitat II in Istanbul. He was followed by Bo Frank and Dagur Eggertsson, mayors of Växjö and Reykjavik respectively, David and then Renat Heuberger, CEO of the Southpole Group thinktank/advocacy firm. Really heartening was the consistency and complementarity of the issues raised, priorities articulated and examples of good practice and necessary change cited.
This was just one of many events featuring cities, the first time that there has been such a presence and prominent urban voice at a UNFCCC Conference of the Parties. Indeed, the Summit of Mayors was held alongside it in order to underline the importance of cities to tackling climate change.
By the end of this weekend, the negotiators from every UN member government will have been negotiating very hard over the text of the Paris Agreement for a fortnight. Although disagreements remain over the draft text released yesterday, 9th December, considerable progress has already been made and there is cautious optimism that a meaningful commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and to provide adequate finance for a global adaptation fund will result.
David commented, “The progress in getting member states of the United Nations to recognise the central importance of sub-national entities, especially cities, in addressing climate change is reflected in explicit terms in the Decision accompanying the draft Paris Agreement. This is greatly to be welcomed. After all, human populations now mostly live and work in urban areas, which is where GHGs are increasingly emitted. Hence the active involvement of municipalities in this agenda is essential.”