The C40 Latin American Mayors Forum in Buenos Aires on 27 March 2015, will be a critical opportunity for city leaders to address one of the most important development challenges of the 21st century: how rapidly growing urban areas can be sustainable and liveable for their citizens, and inspirational to the world on climate action. The forum will be a key precursor to the international climate negotiations culminating in Paris in December 2015, and it will offer cities in the region an open platform to discuss challenges, share experiences and jointly plan for a more sustainable future.

As economic and population hubs, cities are pivotal in the global fight against climate change: they consume 78% of the world’s energy, produce over 60% of all carbon dioxide and generate 1.3 billion tonnes of municipal solid waste a year. And their populations are growing rapidly. Today over half of the world’s population lives in urban areas and that figure is expected to rise to around 66% by 2050.

The world’s cities have in recent years shown bold leadership in committing to address global warming at the local level. Public management models have evolved so as to position climate change as a cross-cutting issue, essential to the strategic agendas of local governments.

In this critical year of international climate negotiations, it is important that we as cities show our solidarity by continuing to cooperate at the local level to reduce emissions and construct environmental management practices that are sustainable, inclusive and potentially replicable in other parts of the world.

Dialogue and unity between local authorities is a step in the right direction if we are to reach a balanced but ambitious agreement at the 2015 climate change conference in Paris, to which all countries are committed. The global Compact of Mayors, signed in New York in 2014, is the world’s largest cooperative effort of cities to fight climate change. This and parallel efforts across the globe, such as the 2014 Compact of States and Regions, is helping to raise the ambition of local climate actions even while international agreements remain elusive.

The Compact of Mayors has answered calls from an ever-growing number of city mayors to voluntarily commit to adaptation and mitigation measures using the new GPC gold standard for calculating city-scale emissions. Under the  Compact,  cities report annually on their progress through existing platforms,  including  CDP  Cities,  and  the data will  be centrally collected and  publically  available  through ICLEI’s carbonn Climate  Registry, providing a consistent and transparent evidence base.   

Strategic cooperation between these cities is another crucial component for yielding results at the global level. Latin America & the Caribbean, for example, have an urban population of over 391 million, 75.3% of the region’s total population, well above the global urban demographic average. These cities not only have comparable population growth rates and similar patterns of economic and social development, but there are also parallels in how these cities are exposed to the effects of climate change, such as heat waves, drought and sea level rise. Closer cooperation and a more fluid exchange of experiences, needs and technologies, will help the region overcome its challenges and demonstrate the decisive role played by cities in supporting the global climate agenda. 

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