Changing Planet

The leadership role of cities worldwide grows as Rio +20 nears

In the coming weeks, we look forward to sharing news about how cities are setting the course for long-term sustainable growth. But first, we want to catch readers up on the conversations we have been having over the past year, featuring the progress being made around the world. The following post originally ran on the C40 Cities Live Blog on January 1, 2012.

Washington Post Writers Group Columnist, Neal Peirce, recently wrote a piece highlighting the growing demand from cities worldwide to play a greater role in the decision making process with international governing bodies, such as the United Nations.

The world’s cities are “impatiently demanding that they be heard earlier, and heeded seriously, in the decisions of nations,” Peirce reports. He cites the upcoming Rio +20 conference, to be held in June 2012, as the prime opportunity for cities to collectively assert themselves in high-level discussions.

C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group Chair and New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg agrees. While speaking at a December 15, 2011 event at the U.N.’s headquarters, Mayor Bloomberg argued that cities need more support from national governments to achieve full sustainability:

Even as national and global efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions have faltered, Bloomberg said, cities across continents have moved aggressively to the “forefront of climate change action.” And that matters hugely, he suggested, since burning of carbon fuels by cities not only accounts for an overwhelming 70 percent of global greenhouse emissions, but “clogs our city streets, pollutes our air, harms the health and shortens the lives of the people we serve.”

Ford Foundation President Luis Ubinas, during the same event, echoed Mayor Bloomberg, saying:

“The growth of cities presents collective opportunity to reduce poverty, to achieve social justice.” First, he said, through dense, efficient development — “because density boosts creativity, entrepreneurial energy and creates jobs.” Second, through diversity that welcomes all peoples, of different races or sexual orientation. And then, expanding the right to secure land tenure — all “city keys to a sustainable planet.”

Read the full text of Peirce’s article here.

The C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40) is a network of large and engaged cities from around the world committed to implementing meaningful and sustainable climate-related actions locally that will help address climate change globally. Recognizing that cities consume over two-thirds of the world’s energy and account for more than 70% of global CO2 emissions, our organization’s global field staff works with city governments, supported by our technical experts across a range of program areas to reduce carbon emissions and increase energy efficiency in large cities across the world. The current chair of the C40 is Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes, and 108th Mayor of New York City Michael R. Bloomberg is President of the Board. The Steering Committee includes: Berlin, Buenos Aires, Copenhagen, Hong Kong, Houston, Jakarta, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Rio de Janeiro, Seoul and Tokyo.

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