C40 Cities Engage (but do not wait for) Official UN Negotiation Process for Agreement on Sustainable Future

At the C40 Mayors Summit in Sao Paulo last year, the C40 Steering Committee drafted a communiqué to highlight for participants of the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development the increasingly important role cities play in adapting to and mitigating the impacts of climate change. A related document was formally submitted to the UN Conference on Sustainable Development on November 1, 2011. Among other things, it called for:

  • Greater recognition of the role of cities in providing an alternative approach to addressing climate change;
  • Greater and more effective financing for cities’ low carbon and sustainable projects, including technology transfer to cities in developing countries;
  • A seat for cities at the table in any new international negotiating platform for sustainable development

In March, 2012, C40 and OECD convened a roundtable event in Chicago for mayors & ministers around the world to explore the opportunities and challenges facing cities on the road to sustainable growth with a focus on financing sustainable urban infrastructure. As part of the proceedings, participants agreed on a series of principles, which were adopted as the “Chicago Proposals for Sustainable Cities” and announced at the meeting. These were a second key submission to the Rio+20 negotiation process. The Proposals call for policy alignment across all levels of government; the “greening” of existing revenue sources for cities, e.g. improving price signals for water and waste services; and, finally, the need for new sources of finance for urban sustainable infrastructure investment. 

In a speech delivered at the close of the OECD event, C40 Chair, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg amplified the key messages behind the Proposals. On the same day, C40 announced the creation of new networks of cities on Green Growth and Sustainable Infrastructure Finance, respectively chaired by the City of Copenhagen and co-chaired by the Cities of Chicago and Basel. The Chicago Proposals will be presented by the OECD at the Rio+C40: Megacity Mayors Taking Action on Climate Change event on June 19. 

Hosted by C40 and the City of Rio de Janeiro, the Rio+C40 event focuses on the things cities are doing to address climate change. The following day, in another part of the city, international negotiators will take up their proceedings, and C40’s contributions will be duly noted. We hope our collective call for change will be heeded and reflected in any final agreement that emerges...but, if not, we know that cities will continue to forge ahead regardless.