Representatives from over 30 cities convened in Brazil for the Urban 20 (U20) 2024 Mayors’ Summit in São Paulo earlier this week.

Hosted by São Paulo, co-chaired by São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, and co-convened by C40 Cities and United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), the summit addressed critical global challenges including social inclusion, the fight against hunger and poverty, sustainable development and the reform of global governance, as set out by the G20.

Over two days, mayors and city representatives shared insights on specific proposals to the G20 to empower cities to deliver on these priorities, from working with cities to increase the ambition and fairness of national climate plans that all countries must update ahead of COP30 in Belem next year, to new guarantee funds to unlock much needed urban finance.

Host city mayor, Ricardo Nunes of São Paulo, shared inspiring examples of city leadership that show how addressing climate breakdown, social inclusion and hunger go hand in hand, such as the city’s programme to distribute over two million plant-based meals to residents daily. Ahmedabad, Buenos Aires, Dakar, Johannesburg, Freetown, Montrèal, and Seoul, were among the mayors and city representatives who added global context to the discussions and outlined how cities can work together to address the world’s key challenges. 

Mayors were joined by Ambassador Antonio da Costa, representing Brazil’s Ministry of Cities, and the G20 Brazil Sous-Sherpa, Felipe Reis. The U20 Co-Chairs delivered a statement for the G20 to consider ahead of its summit in Rio de Janeiro in November 2024, covering measures to increase social inclusion, fight against hunger and poverty, deliver a just transition, reform global governance, and unlock finance for urban sustainable development. The statement will be delivered directly to the G20 Sherpa on 4 July.

Mayor of Rio de Janeiro, Eduardo Paes, said: “It is crucial to always bear in mind that the primary actions to address climate change are carried out in cities, which serve as key drivers of economic growth, accounting for over 80% of the global GDP. It is imperative to establish mechanisms within global governance that secure their direct access to international financing through public, private, and multilateral sources. The G20 represents a unique opportunity to demonstrate to the world’s foremost leaders the vital importance of global financial reform.”

“The mayors’ summit is the main event of the U20, a great opportunity to debate ideas and develop public policies committed to sustainable urban development”, highlights Mayor of São Paulo Ricardo Nunes. He said: “The city of São Paulo has the honour of hosting such an important meeting and, in our tradition of welcoming, wishes everyone an excellent participation and experience.”

Kevin Austin, Deputy Executive Director of C40 Cities, said: “Cities don’t just act on climate, they take action at scale and they take action quickly. From the new public park the size of Paris in São Paulo, preserving this as permanent green space for city residents, to the new solar plant in Rio that will be located in a deactivated landfill and supply energy to 45 schools. By working with cities, G20 countries can turn the noble goals and words of global agreements into action; action that can benefit people not years from now but months. Fast action is essential – the world is on the brink of climate tipping points that, if exceeded, will only exacerbate poverty, inequality and conflict. The proposals of the U20 summit are a beacon of hope as cities lead the charge towards a more sustainable and equitable world.”

Emilia Sáiz, UCLG Secretary General, said: “The message of hope given by cities like São Paulo needs to be accompanied by increased capacity to deliver public services that provide a solid foundation for equality and social justice as the ground to combat hunger and poverty. The conversations and engagement at this U20 Summit were proof of how cities of the world are at the frontline to address not only today’s current challenges but also the needs and aspirations of future generations, aligned with the G20 Brazilian presidency. In Sao Paulo, U20 cities have proven they stand ready to work in partnership with G20 leaders. In return, a clear recognition of cities as a sphere of government in international institutions will be crucial.”

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