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Updates from the ICLEI Global Sustainability Network
Edition #35 May 2016


Andrea Reimer
City Councillor, Vancouver, Canada

Dear ICLEI friends and colleagues,

I was humbled to represent ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability and lead the Local Authorities Major Group at the 2nd United Nations Environment Assembly on 23-27 May in Nairobi.

It was my first UNEP ministerial meeting, and while I was encouraged to see nations' aspirations in what they dubbed a "new age of the environment", I was struck by how much they struggled with converting aspiration into action.

Of course as the "street level" of government, cities have no choice but to act. Environmental degradation is not a theoretical future but a very real "now" for our residents.

We have learned a lot in the course of action. This includes my own city, Vancouver, which in 2009 set a goal to be the greenest city on earth by 2020. In the seven years since, Vancouver has gone from being below number 500 to now the fourth greenest city in the world.

Other cities have led ground-breaking collaborations such as the East Asia Clean Air Cities (EACAC) Program, which ICLEI launched to unite Members from four nations - including Seoul, Tokyo, Beijing and Ulaanbaatar - to address the world's largest environmental killer: air pollution.

There are emerging models we can build on to foster better multilevel collaboration. Earlier in May, in Toyama, Japan, the G7 hosted the first-ever dialogue of Mayors and other subnational leaders with Ministers of Environment.

In addition to these, I shared the hardest won lesson from cities: if you want to see effective outcomes, it must be by replacing old, unsustainable activities with new, sustainable actions that happen instead of - not in addition to - business as usual. Nowhere is this more clear than the transition to 100% renewables where national efforts to expand fossil fuel infrastructure are wasting precious money and time.

I left Nairobi cautiously optimistic that we are indeed at the dawn of a new age of environment, but also concerned. There is no question that we are in the age of cities and that UNEP and national governments will need to reconcile this reality. In the year of only the third United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development in 40 years (Habitat III), there is no better time to establish a 21st century standard for effective multilevel, multistakeholder engagement.

With kind regards,

Andrea Reimer
City councillor, Vancouver, Canada

Local action
Snippets of local action from around the globe
Indonesian cities accelerate commitment to Compact of Mayors

Six more Indonesian mayors commited to the global Compact of Mayors at an event hosted by the Climate Change Special Envoy to the President of Indonesia and the Association of Indonesian Municipalities. The newly committed cities emphasized the need to replace fossil fuels with renewable and lower emission energy sources.

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Solar lights change life for the better in KwaDukuza community

Community life has changed following the installation of solar street lights in KwaDukuza, South Africa. In the disadvantaged community of Groutville, children are now playing under the new streetlights after sunset, a small pleasure introduced by action taken through the Urban-LEDS project.

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Australian Capital Territory, powered by 100% renewable energy, heads toward zero emissions by 2050

The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) will meet 100% of its electricity needs through renewable energy by 2020, while creating new jobs and securing $400 million in local investments. This target complements legislation introduced in early May 2016 that commits ACT to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.

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Taipei joins global movement in achieving international standards for sustainable cities

Mayor of Taipei Ko Wen-je has placed Taipei on the fast-track to becoming one of the region’s most sustainable cities. Taipei was recently certified by the World Council on City Data as a platinum-certified ISO 37120 city, as part of the first international standard for sustainable city indicators. 

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Malmö named mobility award winner

Malmö, Sweden has won the 4th Sustainable Urban Mobility Planning Award, receiving particular recognition for their holistic, ambitious and realistic vision for urban mobility and commitment to creating a multimodal transport network. In Malmö, transport planning is closely linked to the overall planning process and takes into account commuter patterns as well as social factors.

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Global news
The latest on global sustainability policy and events
ICLEI brings transformative power of the urban world to United Nations Environment Assembly

On 23-27 May, ICLEI Members gathered in Nairobi at the second session of United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-2) to engage in the first ever dialogue between local leaders and UNEA delegations at the highest level decision making body on the environment.

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Local and regional governments convene at Second World Assembly toward Habitat III

On 15 May, ICLEI joined local and regional governments from around the world at the first session of the Second World Assembly of Local and Regional Governments in New York City. ICLEI delivered remarks in response to the Zero Draft of the New Urban Agenda, noting it is rich in aspiration but weak in mechanisms for implementing a transformative Urban Agenda.

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Mayors meet Environment Ministers at G7

Mayors from G7 countries gathered on 15-16 May at the G7 Environment Ministers’ Meeting Parallel Session, “The Role of Cities”, to discuss local climate action and ask national governments to promote cities’ efforts on climate and energy while speeding up and scaling up the low carbon transition. This is the first time a G7 process ever focused on cities and engaged Mayors in consultations with Ministers.

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Local Governments and Municipal Authorities (LGMA) constituency welcomes new era of global climate action

Following the Paris Agreement signing, Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) reconvened in Bonn this month on an optimistic note. At the event, the LGMA constituency acknowledged that the Paris Agreement begins a new era in global climate change efforts that is welcomed by local and subnational governments around the world.

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Urgan Agendas
Progress on the ICLEI 10 Urban Agendas for sustainable cities
ICLEI bridges municipal cooperation on air quality improvements in East Asia

ICLEI has launched the East Asia Clean Air Cities (EACAC) Program to promote a city-to-city exchange and collaboration among local governments, partners and solution providers. The EACAC will support East Asian cities in identifying problems and accessing up-to-date information and knowledge on air quality solutions, while connecting cities to the global ICLEI Network to gather positive experiences.

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Air quality in focus: ICLEI Network advances local action as United Nations Environment Assembly convenes in Nairobi

As delegates convened at UNEA-2 to discuss air quality and the environment, ICLEI demonstrated active engagement in improving urban air quality, facilitating city-to-city collaboration and seeking ways for cities to overcome capacity limitations with tools that make air quality goals more attainable. ICLEI notably brought together East Asian cities to act on climate, including capitals of four nations.

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ICLEI celebrates 20 years of work on Sustainable Public Procurement

ICLEI marked 20 years of work on Sustainable Public Procurement at a ceremony during the 8th European Conference on Sustainable Cities and Towns. Over the last 20 years, ICLEI has trained over 2,000 people, supported 300 cities in more than 50 countries and saved 1 million tons of CO2.

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India's Smart Cities Mission: ICLEI supporting four cities on mobility and building energy efficiency solutions

ICLEI is supporting the Smart Cities Mission of the Ministry of Urban Development in India by strengthening sustainable mobility and building energy efficiency in two cities in Rajasthan and two in Andhra Pradesh. Engaging in this initiative is an important opportunity to envision, plan and develop projects that improve livability in Indian cities.

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New guidebook launched to accelerate building efficiency

A new report, produced by the World Resources Institute (WRI) in collaboration with ICLEI and a range of other partners, demonstrates that buildings are the most cost-effective way to reduce emissions in cities. The guidebook shows that improving building efficiency provides cities with a “triple win" of economic, social and environmental benefits.

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IRENA and ICLEI to cooperate on advancing renewable energy within cities and regions

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and ICLEI have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that outlines a combined effort to support the roll-out of renewable energy globally, involving local governments in the process.

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Photo credits

"Taipei joins global...": Image copyright: Taipei City Government
"Malmö named...": Photo courtesy of European Mobility Week

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