Anne Hidalgo, Summit Closing Speech
Our Summit has offered us the key opportunity that we have all been waiting for, traveling from our dear cities, and I would like to thank the C40 organization and all the mayors that have made our joint involvement possible. Our involvement is one for our citizens and we must always speak in their voice. That is what I refer to as loyalty to our land. Our loyalty to the real world that we face day to day. It is in this real world that our professionalism is rooted. It is a professionalism not of experts, but of pragmatics. It also stems from the trust and friendship existing between us mayors. I would like to thank you, dear friends, for your conscious commitment as I believe that, as mayors, we like to harbor illusions. But also for your relentless efforts, which clearly define us all : we never give up, and that should never change!
This has been clear to us throughout our summit : the concrete involvement of our cities has become something essential to the international community. First of all, because it allows us to take a concrete measure of the challenges we face. And also because our creative territories come up with the solutions to face these same challenges. But, above all, our local and global commitment ultimately creates the conditions for a new, truly multipolar and multicultural order, with contributions from both the South and the North, and both the East and the West.
So, together we have a great responsibility. And it is to commit our cities in a transition that is both environmental and democratic, because one can never be possible without the other. A few moments ago, we all heard the impassioned statements made regarding public participation. That conversation was truly inspirational because, in fact, this is a day-to-day challenge for each of us as mayors. I would like to share with you the words of our friend, Ada Colau, Mayor of Barcelona, who would say, simply but categorically, that “there is no city without citizens”. Just like her, I am convinced that true ecology is political, social, economic and cultural. It does not remove the human being from his surroundings, but allows him to progress, saving his environment. This is what we are experiencing in our cities and is what we must now highlight to broaden the sights of the states and international organizations.
Because by knowing how to get the public and private sector, the financial world and the associations, the most important companies and citizen platforms, to all work together, our cities will be most capable of freeing the future. But even so, we must be allowed to act. In other words, we must be able to break away from the old bondage to the past to implement a faster access to the new solutions of today and tomorrow. For instance, now it is essential that, as large cities, we have direct access to international funds and their main donors. It is also urgent that the law allow us to create sovereign and lasting funds to accelerate the ecological transition of our territories. And it is essential that we be allowed to handle renewable and recyclable energies ourselves and without a cumbersome centralism. Today, on behalf of us all, I wish to clearly tell the states and international organizations that, as cities, we have enormous abilities : give us the freedom to use them and you will not regret it! Free the cities and you will free the future!
That is what this is about: freeing the future! That is the title of a book by Ivan Illich, one of the founding fathers of modern ecology and a dear friend of Mexico, where he founded the Center for Intercultural Formation in Cuernavaca, which would later become the famous Center for Intercultural Documentation. Well, freeing the future should be our collective goal as mayors and global leaders. Freeing the future from the fatality of environmental catastrophe. Freeing it from the fatality of populism. And freeing it from the fatality of the furthering of inequalities. These three fatalities are one and the same. One we all have fought against, constantly promoting new possibilities.
These opportunities are not at all abstract or ideological. They are as real and alive as the societies that birth them. And our role is to give them the necessary space, the resources, the breadth. This is what we do at C40, not only for our citizens, but through them and with them.
Because the citizens have the desire and energy to change the world from the cities where they live, where they work, where they breathe. Because they know that global change is rooted in their own lives, here and now.
Citizens are our main source of energy as mayors. Citizens are renewable energy, as long as they trust us. They are clean energy compelling all powers to reinvent themselves, without exception. They are positive energy that wants to build and not destroy, unite and not divide, progress and not regret. It is with this energy that political, economic, social and cultural innovation may resolve the climatic equation.
Let’s continue to share our best practices in environmental matters, of course, but let’s not stop there. Let’s inspire each other in all areas, as we have with the democratic regeneration that participative scenarios imply. Brazilian cities started inspiring the world. Then Paris looked toward New York and Lisbon, before Milan and Madrid set out to imitate Paris, and I know that Stockholm is in this now, too! This type of public initiative is the best response to the populism that can poison our world if we do not realize that our citizens are the solutions in place.
Letting loose their ideas and initiatives, our 650 million citizens could together take on the climate challenge facing all mankind. My point is yours: for the voices of our 650 million citizens to be heard. You can count on my determination. Many thanks to all.