City leaders worldwide are urgently calling on multilateral development banks (MDBs) to provide essential support in addressing the pressing climate challenges facing urban areas.

With more than half of the global population residing in cities—a number that could rise by 2.5 billion by 2050, predominantly in Asia and Africa—urban centres have become significant contributors to the climate crisis, responsible for 70% of greenhouse gas emissions. Cities are increasingly grappling with the adverse effects of climate breakdown, such as flooding and extreme temperatures. Despite their ambitious climate plans, our cities face a critical barrier: limited access to finance.

Today, in an open letter addressed to the presidents of ten global and regional MDBs, 40 mayors and governors from cities across the globe underscore the urgent need for action. The mayors are asking MDBs to work with them to narrow the finance gap by increasing urban climate investment, integrating urban climate action into their strategies, and implementing tailored programmes to support city projects.

During COP28, the launch of the Coalition for High Ambition Multi-Level Partnership (CHAMP) recognised cities’ pivotal role in global climate efforts, while a report by C40 and partners highlighted the strategic importance of urban climate action within MDB reform agendas. These developments underscore the imperative of collaboration in tackling climate breakdown.

The open letter signatories invite MDB presidents to engage with city leaders at the upcoming World Bank/IMF Spring Meetings in Washington, D.C., stressing that effective climate action requires partnership and commitment across all levels of governance. By amplifying the voices of city leaders and fostering collaboration between MDBs and urban stakeholders, we can take meaningful steps towards creating a safer, healthier and more resilient future.

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