Local governments adopt plan towards resilient, low-carbon cities

(Image: Mayor attending the ICLEI World Congress 2015 in Seul, South Korea, and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon. Photo credit: ICLEI/Flickr)

ICLEI World Congress 2015 was held in Seoul, South Korea from April 8 to April 12. Representatives from more than 200 cities worldwide met with officials from international bodies to discuss sustainable urban development and the role of cities in addressing climate change. The theme of this year’s conference was Sustainable Solutions for an Urban Future, focusing on municipalities’ role in solving global issues.

ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability is a network of over 1,000 cities that is committed to building a sustainable future by helping member cities to be sustainable, low-carbon, resilient, biodiverse, resource-efficient, healthy and happy, with a green economy and smart infrastructure. ICLEI members and partners gather at an ICLEI World Congress every three years to showcase actions and discuss strategies for the following years.

The main outcome of the 2015 event was the Seoul Declaration (pdf), a collaborative document outlining a path to urban sustainability, which is linked to ICLEI’s Strategic Plan 2015-2021 (pdf), that will be delivered to the UNFCCC conference in Paris in December. The Seoul Declaration highlights the importance of cities in addressing the current “ecological crisis,” and identifies 9 actions that will be taken moving forward to build sustainable cities. The aim of the plan is to “pursue cities that are low-carbon, resilient, productive and resource-efficient, biodiverse, ecomobile, economically sustainable, smart, happy, healthy, and inclusive.” It was officially adopted and signed by 96 mayors on April 9.

Additionally, 36 new cities and towns pledged to comply with the Compact of Mayors at the ICLEI World Congress, including Seoul. The Compact, launched at the 2014 UN Climate Summit, establishes a common platform to capture the impact of cities’ collective actions through consistent and transparent reporting of their efforts. Cities participating in the Compact are required to register climate mitigation and adaptation targets, and report vulnerability assessments and emissions inventories. In compliance with the rules of the Compact, Seoul Mayor Park Won Soon, who was also named the new ICLEI president at the event, unveiled the Seoul Action Plan (pdf). The Plan contains a series of practical plans that address climate change through sustainable development, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions, low-emission development planning, climate impact response, and city-city cooperation.

Furthermore, under the Compact of Mayors and the Cities Climate Finance Leadership Alliance, ICLEI launched the Transformative Actions Program (TAP) at the World Congress to address the current lack of bankable projects and access to funding for climate action.

Secretary General of ICLEI, Gino Van Begin described the Program, noting that, “The Transformative Actions Program is the result of an inclusive and cooperative effort by networks of local and subnational governments to accelerate implementation of climate action. The TAP seeks to scale up direct investments and increased engagement in national and global mechanisms focusing on capacity building, technology transfer and finance, supported by national government and by financing institutions that can fund accelerated action.”

The Program will select up to 100 transformative projects ahead of December’s Paris Climate Conference with the aim of enhancing capital flows to cities. It will also create a TAP Platform to provide project visibility to financial institutions, and a TAP Pavilion as a physical space for exchanging ideas.

(Image: Mayor attending the ICLEI World Congress 2015 in Seul, South Korea, and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon. Photo credit: ICLEI/Flickr)