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November 24, 2017

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Demonstration of closeness at the summit of cities and regions


More than 1,000 participants from 80 nations, including approximately 330 mayors and other leading representatives at local and regional level, arrived in Bonn on Sunday, 12 November 2017 for the summit of cities and regions. It was held at the invitation of the city of Bonn, the Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) and the international city network called Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI) for the first time as part of the UN Climate Conference, which will continue until 17 November in the Federal city. The increasing importance of municipalities and regions in the battle against climate change and climate adjustment was the focus of the discussions.

This summit was "A demonstration of closeness at local and regional level", according to Bonn’s mayor Ashok Sridharan, who together with the NRW Minister for the Economy, Innovation, Digitalisation and Energy, Andreas Pinkwart, as well as representatives of ICLEI and the Federal ministries involved, reported at press conference given by the city in Bonn on the meeting. He seemed delighted that so many decision-makers at sub-national level had accepted the invitation to the summit. Mayor Sridharan continued: "I am particularly pleased that this includes so many mayors, governors and other representatives from the USA, who have therefore demonstrated that they stand behind the resolutions adopted by the Paris Convention on Climate Change and want to implement it”.

The Economics Minister of NRW, Andreas Pinkwart emphasised: "In the battle against climate change it is now about becoming effective and providing specific examples. The municipalities play a major role in this.” He pointed out that the ambitious targets up to 2050 represented a great challenge for NRW and Germany, for which step-by-step innovations would not be sufficient, and breakthrough innovations would be necessary. "We want to meet this challenge through innovation and research and NRW and Germany could be the pioneers in this endeavour."

Hans-Joachim Fuchtel, Parliamentary State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), also emphasised the role of the municipalities and regions and the significance of the Bonn summit: "The global world must be bound together at its roots and that means the municipalities." Cities would not be able to overcome the consequences of climate change alone, but without the cities it would not be possible to overcome them at all. Fuchtel pointed to a BMZ programme supporting collaboration between the municipalities from Germany with cities in developing countries. During the last three years 647 municipal partnerships had been created, which helped to pass on experience and know-how.

For Wolfgang Teubner, Regional Director for Europe of the international city network called Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI) the increasing awareness of the importance of cities and regions in the activities against climate change is the result of 20 years of intensive work and negotiations. "However this turning point in awareness is at the same time the starting point for implementing climate protection measures in cities and regions now." The process must be supported by political, regulatory and economic structures to make this possible.

Bonn, a wonderful host at the Climate Conference

In almost all the statements issued it was mentioned that the event in Bonn had been accepted very positively by the delegates from all over the world. NRW Economics Minister Pinkwart stated: "Bonn is presenting itself in an excellent light; the delegates feel very much at home here and have been made to feel very welcome. This ensures that there is a very pleasant atmosphere during the discussions." Jochen Flasbarth, Parliamentary State Secretary in the Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety talked about a "superb calling card provided by Bonn and Germany with this conference".

Mayor Ashok Sridharan thanked the citizens of Bonn for their hospitality and flexibility: "Many delegates reported to me that they were offered help everywhere in the city spontaneously." Flexible working hours at many employers in Bonn had also made a decisive contribution to ensuring that no major disruptions on the road had occurred so far.

On the eve of the summit of cities and regions the city of Bonn had invited the conference members to a reception at the Bundeskunsthalle. Lord Mayer Ashok Sridharan welcomed amongst others the actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, former Governor of California, as well as the former US Vice President and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Al Gore.

Examples of climate trailblazers from Germany

Germany plays a trailblazing role in climate protection. Cities, municipalities, districts and Federal States in Germany have set a high standard with their own climate strategies: Essen was transformed from a coal city into Europe‘s green capital city. Freiburg is on the way towards sustainable mobility and renewable energy and Bonn is focussing on the involvement of everyone - already starting at primary school where children are trained as "climate ambassadors”.

North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) is also one of the most efficient energy regions from a global perspective. It has long been a tradition here to find and implement solutions for energy efficiency and climate protection. In addition to the large number of different COP23 activities, the Federal State together with the Federal Ministry for the Environment is therefore also inviting the accredited delegates and journalists at the World Climate Conference to a wide range of excursions to discover more about the innovative energy state of NRW.

All these examples show that without the cities and regions it would not be possible to implement the climate protection targets

ICLEI summit: Well-known speakers

Over 500 representatives of cities, regions and provinces from all over the world have already promised to attend the summit of cities and regions. The list of speakers includes among others:

  • The Governor of California Edmund "Jerry" Brown
  • and his predecessor Arnold Schwarzenegger,
  • UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa
  • and her predecessor Christiana Figueres.
  • Park Won-Soon, the Mayor of Seoul und Chairman of ICLEI is coming from Korea.
  • Mayor Louis Revilla will travel from Bonn´s partner city of La Paz.

In addition to the hosts, the following are attending from Germany:

  • NRW-Minister President Armin Laschet
  • and Bonn´s Mayor Ashok Sridharan
  • also the Minister President of Baden-Württemberg, Winfried Kretschmann
  • and the mayors of Essen and Freiburg, Thomas Kufen and Dieter Salomon, will also be there.

New initiatives and climate collaboration

The cities and regions have thought of something special as a gift for the visitors at the 23rd World Climate Conference - a package of new initiatives around the globe. Including for example a worldwide partnership with small island states - the ICLEI-GLISPA-Initiative. GLISPA stands for Global Island Partnership. Under the umbrella of this initiative cities from Fiji will for example work with other ICLEI member states.

The Climate Conference in Bonn

The 23rd World Climate Conference (COP 23) of the United Nations is taking place in Bonn from 6 until 17 November 2017. It is being hosted by the Climate Secretariat of the United Nations which is based here. The Presidency is held by Fiji. The implementation of the Paris Convention on Climate Change concluded in 2015 and its future rules will form the focus of the negotiations. A special feature of this will be the involvement of cities and regions in the structure and implementation of national climate strategies.

Last update: November 14, 2017



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