World cities meet before Cancún Climate Conference

by on Thursday, 11 November 2010 32325 hits Comments
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Will cities and local communities take the lead when it comes to mitigation action against climate change? This was the definite lesson of a summit held in Xinbei City (formerly Taipei County) on November 8-9 2010.

Mayor Chou Hsi-wei participated in the Climate Summit for Mayors held on the margins of the Copenhagen conference in December 2009. He had drawn the conclusion that cities were showing much more boldness and creativity when dealing with climate change than was the case of national governments. Hence his idea of organizing a pre-Cancún conference in Taiwan. He asked the Ricci Institute and Renlai to help with the planning, brainstorming and organization.

Mayors and representatives of Cincinnati, Portland, Metro-Vancouver, San Salvador, Copenhagen, Riga, Greater Paris, Gold Coast (Australia), Moura (Portugal), Kurunegala (Sri Lanka), Greater Taipei as well as Green Cross International and other leading NGOs were among the ones showing in which ways cities are now responding to environmental challenges through education, planning, green energy, alternative transportation systems and shifts in developmental models. All shared the feeling that national governments, pressed by a number of issues and short-term priorities, have renounced the lead when it comes to climate change mitigations. All felt that, rather than resigning to such a situation, they were called to show how local initiative could supplement and inspire national and international agreements.

Today city halls may be the place where we are building a sustainable future – perhaps much more than the Cancún corridors will prove to be. The following declaration, unanimously signed by the participants at the end of the conference, testifies to the shift of paradigm we are presently experiencing:

Urban empowerment for sustainable development

Entering the path of sustainable development is the primary imperative that our countries and cities presently face.

The rights of future generations must be protected to ensure continued access to clean water, pure air, energy supply, biodiversity and climatic conditions that preserve coastlines while diminishing risks of extreme storms and droughts.

Sustainable development is also about the way we share our resources in order to meet all our basic needs, while fostering values such as frugality and solidarity, as opposed to consumerism and individualism.

We need to empower cities and citizens to help nations, international organizations, companies and civil societies tackle evolving challenges with a more acute sense of the issues at stake, thus generating increased inventiveness, boldness and sense of cooperation.

Our cities are the laboratories where local communities nurture creativity and solidarity in order to better inhabit the world.

Urban empowerment is a necessary component of sustainable development as it fosters creativity and diversity.

A diversified natural environment is more prone to resist the effect of viruses thanks to its superior adaptability. Similarly, a diversified urban environment can better adapt to new economic, ecological and social imperatives.

Global cities will become the leading actors of a new developmental model through a web of “knowledge networks” that will make our success stories known and replicated.

Global cities must also become the rallying points around which to foster citizens’ coalitions that aim at nurturing green growth and climate initiatives, as a way to tackle both economic and environmental challenges.

Together we can pave the way for a new model of local and global governance by mobilizing our rich cultural resources in order to shape the city of tomorrow into a beacon of sustainable development.

By helping themselves, global cities also help the world. All societies are striving for reduced energy consumption, green businesses, preserved biodiversity, social equity and better corporate governance.

Together, let us make our cities a model of sustainable development!

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Last modified on Wednesday, 08 January 2014 17:34
Cerise Phiv (張俐紫)

Former Managing Editor of eRenlai.com

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