A highlight in COP 25 meetings held in Madrid this week was a side event that pointed to the key role cities of all sizes, including smaller municipalities, can play in the fight against climate change. Gathered in the Forum of Iberoamerican Cities: Strengthening dialogue and cooperation between local authorities in Spain and Latin America, hosted by the Chilean Pavilion in partnership with major networks of local governments around the world including ICLEI, eight local authorities exchanged experiences and ideas on the role that cities must play as key contributors in the fight against climate change. They included the mayors of Brasileia, Penco, Tegucigalpa, Renca, Bitoria, Oreamuno as well as the city of Sevilla’s Director General of Sustainable Development and of Rosario’s Head of Environment.
Asked about the main challenges that cities face and that prevent the kind of climate action needed to reduce emissions and strengthen resilience at the local level, participants stressed points of common concerns and lesson learned on the following topics:
(1) where more synergies should be generated amongst the Ibero-American cities to address future climate change challenges together;
(2) how to provide feedback from local governments to shape national policies to better combat climate change and
(3) what role municipalities can play to meet zero carbon emissions development strategies and increase resilience to climate change by the year 2050.
Local authorities: Mrs. Fernanda Hassem (Mayor of Brasileia), Mr. Victor Hugo Figueroa (Mayor of Penco), Mr. Nesfry “Tito” Asfura (Mayor of Tegucigalpa), Mrs. Esperanza Caro (General Director of Sustainable Development, Sevilla), Mr. Claudio Castro (Mayor of Renca), Mrs. Daniela Mastrangelo (Head of Environment, Rosario), Mr. Gorka Utaran (Mayor of Vitoria) and Mrs. Catalina Coghi (Mayor of Oreamuno).
It was highlighted that the problems that almost every city faces to address climate change are very similar and depend on multiple factors, like the number of their inhabitants. Because of that, it is essential that more cities, companies, and citizens join the global networks that are fighting climate change. Building synergies, lessons learned and best practices should be the starting point for all the municipalities to combat climate change.
All the speakers agreed on the fact that it is time for action and that the role of the cities is a key element in the fight against climate change. They are at the forefront of this challenge and therefore ideal urban laboratories to develop innovative solutions.
Apart from the need for communicating and better disseminating knowledge of the challenges of climate change and global warming amongst the citizens in the long-term, two main topics were highlighted by participants.
First, they noted the need that the States decentralize further their resources to the local levels. In this sense, the speakers stated that the municipalities do not count in general with enough human and technical resources and funding to develop programs to prevent climate change. Also, local authorities emphasized that they have direct access to the people’s opinions and economic and social problems, in contrast to the congressmen and congresswomen, senators and presidents.
Secondly, local authorities outlined that the fight against climate change must be placed beyond political conflict. The beauty of working closely in partnership to combat climate change is that there are local authorities from different political movements united for a common purpose: Not to leave anyone behind.
**This side event was organized by the Chilean Pavilion at COP25 in partnership with ICLEI (Local Governments for Sustainability), CC35 (Ciudades Capitales frente al Cambio Climático de las Américas), Climate Alliance and UIM-Union Iberoamericana de Municipalistas.
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