World Summit of Regions calls for new bottom-up approach to shape future climate policy

Regions of Climate Action (R20), the international non-profit organization launched by Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2010, organized the World Summit of Regions for Climate on 10-11 October 2014 in Paris. The summit was set for the official launch of the “Road to Paris 2015”. This participatory community platform was created to accelerate the fight against climate change and build an actionable agenda for the upcoming COP21, the UNFCCC Convention of the Parties to be held in the French capital in 2015.

The World Summit of Regions brought together regions and local governments from every continent, as well business and financial leaders to work toward a new international and legally binding agreement on climate change to be signed at COP21 in 2015. Since the top-down approach adopted at Copenhagen (COP15) has proved ineffective so far, a new bottom-up approach is needed now.

To this end, the Paris Declaration has been presented, debated, and signed by all the participants, including the founder of R20 Arnold Schwarzenegger, representatives of the Federal States, Regions, and Cities, Heads of State, Foreign Affairs and Environmental and Energy Ministers, as well as EU and UN representatives such as Connie Hedegaard – the EU Commissioner for Climate Action, and Mary Robinson – the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy on climate change, and Presidents and CEOs of main energy companies and financial leaders from around the world.

The message set forth at this Summit was very encouraging and it was clear that in the aftermath of the UN Climate Summit in New York the momentum is there to undertake concrete and ambitious actions in favour of a robust, fair and legally binding international climate agreement. It emerged that at the next EU Council of the end of October the EU needs to take a final and ambitious commitment on EU climate and energy targets for 2030, by speaking with one and strong voice, and seize the momentum in favour of a global climate agreement.

The Summit of Regions for Climate and the Paris Declaration point in this direction. The seven commitments undertaken by sub-national governments and the five commitments undertaken by the business and finance sector in the Paris Declaration converge on the idea that the plan to fight against climate change must be just one because the planet is one, and the momentum for action is now. The role of sub-national governments and the mobilization of the civil society in the fight against global warming are both very important, as Mary Robinson underlined. Nevertheless, the final target must be that of a global shared and legally binding agreement to be achieved in Paris in 2015, as Connie Hedegaard pointed out.

The main aims of R20 over the next fourteen months up to COP21 is to disseminate the Paris Declaration through partner organizations around the world, to reach the symbolic threshold of 1,000 regions, cities and local governments from every continent that commit to taking concrete actions for climate, and urge national governments to achieve an agreement. The Paris Declaration, and the pressing and positive call to action, will be put forth to heads of state and governments at the opening of COP 21 in Paris in 2015.