Anne Hidalgo, Summit Opening Speech

First of all, I want to thank our host and friend, Miguel Ángel Mancera, without whom, our Summit would not be possible. You have accommodated us in your inspirational city in the best of ways. For several years now, you have taken the brave and innovative measures that we the mayors need to take, facing climate change and air pollution. And you do it because, just like all of us, you know it is for the good of the living quality of your fellow citizens and the appeal of your city.

Before I continue, I would like to congratulate our colleague, Eduardo Paes, for having been an excellent Chair of C40. A Chair that was not only a visionary but was also pragmatic. Indeed, as all good mayors! Eduardo and I met a long time ago and I think we had a great deal in common. We agreed in considering that both cities and citizens play a crucial role in overcoming the great challenges of our times. I thank you, dear Eduardo, for all your inspirational achievements. And I would like to be clear: my Chair could not start off any better than by following in your footsteps.

I would now like to thank all of you for your unanimous trust. My Chair will be defined by conviction and commitment. I am convinced that the cities have countless concrete solutions that will enable humanity to overcome the planetary challenges that we have already started to face. I am committed to drawing out those solutions to achieve universal, shared progress, for the good of the people.

We no longer have time for waiting, speculation or questions. As stated and proven by Leonardo diCaprio, we have to take concrete and collective action before it is too late. There are three things we need to do : act, act and act again. Act there, where we are, with the opportunities and instruments that we have available, and in contact with a reality with which we are undoubtedly familiar.


It is for this reason that our cities are the first to respond to the call of climatic challenge. And it is so because our cities converse, share, establish bonds in spite of differences, are free to act and have the power to do so.

Facing the skepticism of certain heads of state and the cowardice paralyzing others, we respond guided by a single principle: action. And we apply a single method that consists of knocking down walls and putting up bridges.

Cities have always been at the forefront of change. They have always generated what would later become progress. They have always intuited the future and, in some way, have always anticipated and got ahead of it. They have therefore assumed key roles in the world ecological transition. The most illustrative example is the signing of the Paris Agreement, where the contributions of over a thousand mayors that we brought together with my dear Mike Bloomberg, were decisive so that the states could now reach their lofty goals. It is our duty to drive that buoyancy. The cities must participate, through C40 and initiatives such as the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, in all great international negotiations. The cities will be the voice of the people and of the streets, which are too often forgotten, and will offer concrete, pragmatic and effective solutions.


The C40 mayors are preparing to act and we will do so without delay. For ten years, we have been proving that a low-carbon world is possible. And that it is possible in our cities and thanks to them. It is the mission that I have assumed as new Chair of C40, this extraordinary network that has already counted with the participation of 90 metropolises from around the world, and that represents over 650 million people and one-fourth of the world economy.

By 2030, the world cities will be responsible for 74% of the greenhouse gas emissions. Facing this situation, we must be ambitious but also concise. Visionaries, but also pragmatic. With that spirit, we must rid our economy from carbon, close coal plants, generalize ecological movements and triple our high-speed trains. With that spirit, we must give priority to circular economy and ecodesign, foster environmental education and choose a radical, effective and shared energy transition.


In many places, we already have chosen clean energies and we fight against contamination, eradicating the diesel cartel and favoring electric transportation, carpooling and bicycles. We are preparing for the increase in temperature and adapting to that change. Our cities are going green and we have freed their centers from car supremacy, as in the case of Paris, with the creation of a magnificent park along the banks of the Seine, which I invite you to get to know as soon as you may.

We must nonetheless go farther and faster. The priority at this time is to implement the Paris Agreement. If we are successful, humanity will have a chance to survive. If we fail, the average temperature on the planet will rise between three and four degrees from now until the end of the century, and extreme climatic phenomena will multiply, as already experienced by several of our cities.

For all these reasons, the twelve mayors that form the C40 Executive Committee met yesterday to approve a strategy that will allow the mayors of the world’s most influential cities to adopt the measures necessary to implement the agreement over the next four years and achieve that the rise in temperature be no greater than one degree and a-half.

In practice, this implies that, starting today and until the year 2020, C40 will help its cities develop climate action plans that are coherent with the objectives of the Paris Agreement. The final objective is that by 2020, our cities all have implemented a climate action plan that will allow them to restrict such rise in temperature.

If we can reach that objective, the C40 mayors will become the first group of political leaders contributing to both the ratification of the Paris Agreement and to its application, making benchmark models of our citizens.

The report published today by C40 sets out precisely this perspective. By once again highlighting the key role played by the cities in the application of the agreement, we are driven to accelerate and broaden the movement that we have been able to start together.

It is precisely in the areas of energy and planning of our dear cities where the possibility lies of reducing emissions by 40% and, thus, of successfully applying the Paris Agreement.

We are all aware that to achieve this, we need funding - now and later. This will be the sinew of peace in the years to come. According to our report, the application of our public policies will require an investment of 375 billion dollars over the next four years.

There is no other solution : together, we will seek out that money.

So, we are up against an equation that is easy to understand, but not to solve. At present, there are financial means, but they do not contribute — or, better said, they do not contribute not enough — to solving the great problems of the planet. It is therefore our duty to guide them toward ecological and energy transition, transforming them into an investment of a thousand shapes and a thousand faces traveling the cities. Only we can build bridges between a financial sector that often considers itself far from the day to day, and some territories that are deeply rooted in it. This is the mission that I am commissioning us, as local and global leaders. I know that we can complete it because I am witness to the resilience, creativity and pragmatism that we are capable of developing to build effective and innovative solutions.

Eduardo Paes already started this work, creating the C40 Finance Facility. With the support of this program, we must reinvent our cities, that is, allow all our fellow citizens to create, in complete freedom, to make way for free architectural, cultural, economic, social and societal innovation. And we will do this by fostering in our own network the project to Reinvent cities, based on the successful Reinvent Paris. It is what will do by also launching DataCity, an initiative backed by NuMa, the most important incubator in Paris, which will allow putting technological innovation at the service of sustainable cities.

Today we must learn to together build the spaces that we will share tomorrow. Reinventing our cities also implies reinventing our forms of governance. It implies bringing them into a new era, where they will play the role of catalysts of the ideas, projects and desires of the citizens. In our cities, the ecological and energy transition must be accompanied by a new democratic evolution.

Such perspective must leave space to the women leading the fight against climate control. This fight needs leaders that are aware that goals may only be achieved when responsibilities are assumed without expecting rewards; leaders that know how to combine perseverance, caution and humility. The fight for the Climate needs, in one word: women. The history of women is a history of battles and victories. Ecological transition shall be their next challenge. And it will also be their next victory!

Women are well acquainted with the strength of hope and power of determination. Day after day, they move mountains in a world where they are ignored. In my opinion as the first woman to chair C40, it is essential that we know how to spotlight the importance of these heroines, who shall be the pioneers of this peaceful revolution. Ecology bears a close relation to equality. In the same way that the defense of nature cannot be separated from the defense of culture. The fight for the environment goes hand in hand with the fight for gender equality and, therefore, the lady mayors of C40, greatly increasing in numbers year after year, will tomorrow launch the key initiative Women4Climate.

We are aware that all of this will not be easy. But we must be brave as well as visionaries, to together overcome the greatest challenge to humanity. The motivation is obviously solidarity but it is also — and we must face it — an interest; as this challenge also implies new opportunities; economic, of course, but also social and political. Our call out to private initiative is absolutely clear : Help us transform the world!

Before I conclude, I would once again like to thank our host and friend, Miguel Ángel Mancera, Head of Government of Mexico City, for accommodating us in his wonderful city. I also wish to extend my thanks to the main C40 donors, who have just renewed their commitment to our project and whose donations will reach 40 million dollars over the next four years. Without them, none of this would be possible. Thank you Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Children Investment Fund Foundation and Realdania for your leadership and trust. And, obviously, thank all of you mayors for your commitment to the climate challenge, the challenge of the twenty-first century.

A great writer and traveler, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, author of the famous book The Little Prince, once wrote that “our task is not to foresee the future, but to enable it”.

Together, in our cities, let’s enable the future.