Enhancing the role of cities as global economic and political leaders

Created in 2017 under the leadership of Mayor of Buenos Aires Horacio Rodríguez Larreta and Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo, the Urban20 (U20) is a city diplomacy initiative that provides a space for cities to engage in the Group of 20 (G20) and enhances the role of cities as global economic and political leaders.

We know from experience that climate change solutions are often most effectively implemented at the municipal level. A dialogue forum for local governments to contribute to the global agenda shaped by the G20 is therefore necessary. As diplomacy is no longer executed at a single level of government, the U20 responds to the opportunity to link diverse efforts under a common framework.

The U20 works to coordinate a joint position between the mayors of major G20 cities and other global urban centres to inform and enrich the discussions of national leaders. It focuses on responding to the climate crisis by championing and accelerating the transition to carbon neutral, more inclusive and resilient societies. By doing so, the U20 aims to facilitate lasting engagement between the G20 and cities, raise the profile of urban issues in the G20 agenda and establish a forum for cities to develop a collective message and perspective to inform G20 negotiations.

During each U20 cycle, each participating city is represented in the process by its mayor and a key city representative, ideally the Head of International Affairs or top city diplomat. The main output of the U20 process is the ‘Urban 20 Communiqué to the G20’. This communique and any other recommendations from the mayors and lead representative are shared with the G20 Presidency and Heads of State during the annual U20 Summit, held before the annual G20 Leaders’ Summit.

The G20 works with a broad range of organisations to provide diverse perspectives on financial and socio-economic challenges. Some of these organisations are gathered in thematic groups referred to as ‘G20 Engagement Groups’. The U20 operates in the same spirit but is independent from organisations of the G20 host country. The initiative is permanently convened by C40 Cities and United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), un,der the leadership of a chair city that rotates annually, following the G20 cycles. The U20 has been chaired by Buenos Aires and Paris (2018), Tokyo (2019), Riyadh (2020) and Milan & Rome (2021).

To learn more, contact Judith Neijzen at jneijzen@c40.org.