The recent Vatican climate summit, ‘Climate Crisis to Climate Resilience,’ marked a milestone in the global climate fight, with C40 mayors signing a crucial climate protocol. 

The impact of the climate crisis reverberates across the globe, affecting people of all faiths and backgrounds. To avert climate breakdown, we need coordinated partnerships between all levels of government to unlock the win-win opportunity, enable better, more ambitious and people-centred climate action, and leverage the true potential of local climate leadership.

Led by C40 Co-Chair and Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, on 16 May 2024, a delegation of eight city leaders engaged in high-level discussions on climate adaptation, mitigation, and resilience. The delegation, which included Mayor of Boston, Michelle Wu; C40 Vice Chair Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo; Mayor of Rome, Roberto Gualtieri; Mayor of Athens, Haris Doukas; Governor of Santiago, Claudio Orrego; Mayor of Yokohama, Takeharu Yamanaka and Mayor of São Paulo, Ricardo Nunes, emphasised the vital role cities play in driving climate action.

Vatican - All summit attendees are seated for an address by His Holiness Pope Francis; C40 mayors are sitting along the front row (16 May 2024)_© Gabriella C. Marino_PAS
© Gabriella C. Marino / PAS

The mayors called for enhanced collaboration between cities and national governments to meet climate targets and signed the ‘Protocol for Climate Resilience’ alongside global climate leaders. The protocol will be submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to take it forward to all nations.

A highlight was the audience with His Holiness Pope Francis, where mayors discussed their climate strategies and challenges, aligning with the Pope’s call to action in his Laudate Deum. Mayors also addressed the assembly throughout the day in the ‘Mayors and Governors Summit,’ participating in global roundtable events.

Vatican - C40 Co-Chair Mayor of London Sadiq Khan meets His Holiness Pope Francis during the three-day Vatican summit, “From Climate Crisis to Climate Resilience” (16 May 2024). © Vatican Media
© Vatican Media

C40 Vice Chair and Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo praised Pope Francis for linking climate, social justice, and migration, a connection evident in the challenges faced by cities. Mayor of Yokohama Takeharu Yamanaka emphasised the importance of resident empowerment and the city government’s role in societal transformation, sharing Yokohama’s success in reducing household waste by 43% through expanded waste separation and resident engagement.

Mayor of Athens Haris Doukas highlighted the effectiveness of multi-level climate action initiated by the Paris Agreement, positioning cities at the forefront of the climate fight. Echoing His Holiness Pope Francis, Mayor of São Paulo Ricardo Nunes reflected on the need to support the poorest and most vulnerable in the transition to more sustainable cities.

[Clockwise, from top left] The mayors of Paris, Yokohama, São Paulo and Athens address participants at the Vatican climate summit (16 May 2024)_© Gabriella C. Marino/PAS
© Gabriella C. Marino/PAS

Governor of Santiago Claudio Orrego pointed out the exacerbation of inequality by climate breakdown, advocating for the involvement of various sectors to tackle the issue effectively. Mayor of Rome Roberto Gualtieri discussed the city’s efforts in mitigation and adaptation, focusing on transformative interventions and protecting the most vulnerable through measures like low-emission zones. Mayor of Boston Michelle Wu reflected on the city’s historical and ongoing commitment to green spaces as essential components of community health and climate resilience.

[Left to right] The city leaders of Santiago, Rome and Boston address participants at the Vatican climate summit (16 May 2024)_© Gabriella C. Marino_PAS
© Gabriella C. Marino / PAS

As the summit concluded, C40 Co-Chair Mayor of London Sadiq Khan highlighted the success of London’s ultra-low emission zone, emphasising how the world’s largest clean air zone is protecting the health of residents. Watch below:

Reflecting on the summit in The Standard, Mayor Khan wrote: “It’s an honour to have been invited by the Pope to speak at an important climate summit at the Vatican. Following my recent re-election in London, I go with a clear message for other city leaders — this is not the time to back down, but to double down.

“This is a moment which demands the courage to take tough decisions because regardless of the differing beliefs and faiths we live by, we share a collective duty as custodians of this planet.”

The collaborative efforts and shared insights from this summit underscored the collective determination of cities worldwide to lead the charge in climate action and resilience, marking the event as a key moment in the global climate movement.

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