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October 31, World Cities Day
Today is World Cities Day (WCD). While many people will read, or hear, about the importance of commemorating this day, few may know what exactly it is being celebrated. Let’s take a look to some history. In 2013, the United Nations established the WCD with the aim of fostering cooperation among countries to address the challenges posed by urbanism, as well as to contribute to sustainable urban development around the world.
At the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), we strongly believe in both the power of working together and the importance of cities as leaders in climate change action in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). The IDB Cities Network works precisely to make these objectives a reality in the region: to promote the collaborative exchange of knowledge among mayors, and to generate a space to anticipate and lead actions against climate change.
Left: IDB Mayors Forum 2022 | Center: Juan Pablo Bonilla, IDB Climate Change and Sustainable Development Sector Manager | Right: Tatiana Gallego Lizon, IDB Housing and Urban Development Division Chief
In today’s blog post we address the latest initiative of the IDB Cities Network: the Mayors Forum 2022, which took place October 19-21 in Buenos Aires, within the framework of the C40 World Mayors Summit. Keep reading to learn all the details.
IDB Mayors Forum 2022: Innovation and Resilience for Sustainable City Growth
As we explained in our last blog post, although climate change is everyone’s problem, cities are called upon to lead actions to address it. Given that they are the main source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, no one like city leaders are better positioned to provide a solution and achieve sustainable urban growth.
The Mayors’ Forum 2022 brought together heads of government and delegates from LAC cities of different sizes and challenges, with the aim of exchanging knowledge to promote capacity building and visualize actions that will allow us to advance more quickly in the region’s climate ambition.
Left: Group photo IDB Mayors Forum 2022 | Right: Session Mayors Forum 2022
The meeting not only included discussions and roundtables on actions that allow us to reduce emissions in cities. There was also space to talk about how we can anticipate climate challenges and build greater resilience in urban areas with more innovation and leadership.
Although the Mayors Forum is an annual event, this year was very special, as it was the first time we met again in a face-to-face format after the COVID19 pandemic! Over the three days of the event, four sessions were held with the following themes: adaptation and resilience, mitigation, financing, and governance for climate action.
Meetings during the IDB Mayors Forum 2022
Below, we share 4 of the main lessons learned from this important dialogue:
1) Impacts and adaptation responses to climate change are different for each territory and context:
The location of a city (coastal, mountainous, riverine or Amazonian zone), as well as its size, has an impact on the type of concrete adaptation plans, according to its characteristics. Here are some examples of solutions for each of the following locations:
- Coastal cities: improve infrastructure, addressing coastal erosion and sargassum damage, to ensure that communities can continue to travel from their homes to schools, work and hospitals
- Andean or mountainous cities: promote sustainable urban growth and regeneration, preserving risk areas in ravines and foothills
- Amazonian cities: generate a prioritization of climate change adaptation actions that address both budgetary constraints and the negative impact of agribusiness
- Large cities: reduce inequalities and promote socio-urban integration, which tends to affect the most vulnerable to a greater extent
2) Urban planning must be sustainable, resilient and inclusive:
The session on “climate change mitigation” explored the urban sectors and activities that generate the most GHG emissions in the region’s cities. Solutions for the decarbonization of transportation and electromobility, eco-efficiency in buildings and built environments, tree planting, and territorial planning were also shared.
According to Carlos Moreno, associate professor at IAE Paris Business School in France, we can, and should, build happier cities. By applying the 15-minute city model, we encourage a calmer pace of life, the intense reuse of spaces, and the appropriation of places.
3) Investment for climate action must be optimized:
Not only we need to invest more resources for climate action, but we must invest them well. Less than 10% of climate resources mobilized are invested in adaptation. Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and climate commitments requires mobilizing more investment of all kinds: public, private, local, national and international, both in capacity and capital.
The latest Climate Policy Initiative report (2022) leaves three clear messages:
- There is not enough climate investment flowing to urban areas in developing countries.
- There is a huge gap in funding dedicated to adaptation and resilience
- Local governments need to work with national governments and financial institutions, the private sector and civil society to unlock and scale up investments for climate action.
4) Increased ambition to maintain the 1.5°C target and reduce the impacts of climate change:
To achieve this goal, cities play a key role in coordination with national governments to ensure that nationally determined contributions (NDCs) can be effectively implemented and monitored.
Philipp Rode, Executive Director of LSE Cities, highlighted the importance of increasing the support and reciprocal relationship between national and subnational governments to improve access to finance at the local level. Likewise, Javier Torner, UN-Habitat specialist, highlighted two key elements: the limited time available to carry out environmental plans, and the importance of including the environmental agenda in the social agenda in a cross-cutting manner. Finally, Ricardo Bertolino, executive director of the Argentine Network of Municipalities facing climate change, stressed the importance of monitoring and having indicators that are conducive to this.
The time for action is now
The time has come. We need to choose what kind of cities we want for our present and for generations to come. While this is an important issue every day of the year, the celebration of World Cities Day, less than a week before COP27, is the time to demonstrate it. We must convince ourselves that action against climate change is necessary for economic growth and an opportunity to generate better quality jobs, diversify our productive matrices, and promote safer and more inclusive development
Left: Richard Martinez, IDB Vice President for Countries | Center: Maria Camila Uribe, IDB Cities Network Coordinator | Right: Benigno Lopez, IDB Vice President for Sectors and Knowledge with a municipal leader
At the IDB we will continue working to promote the leadership of cities in the action against climate change. If you enjoyed this blog, we encourage you to register here to receive our monthly newsletter and not miss any blogs, courses and publications from the IDB Housing and Urban Development Division.