Collaboration between all levels of government and local climate action a lever for raising ambition levels
After two days of intense discussions, the international climate action conference ICCA2019 in Heidelberg has drawn to a close. Four months ahead of the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit, the conference participants are sending a strong signal to the world: It is possible to implement ambitious climate action and comply with the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Climate-proof and sustainable cities are key to achieving this. Their potential must be unlocked through collaboration between all levels of government. Representatives of national governments adopted a Partnership Declaration on Collaborative Climate Action in which they agreed, among other things, to develop a financial framework which will facilitate investments in climate-resilient infrastructures at local level. States and regions agreed to take responsibility for spatial planning that takes climate change into account. Cities pledged to integrate climate objectives into the delivery of all relevant municipal services. Jointly, all levels of government have set the goal of pursuing collaborative climate action that is innovative and inspirational.
Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze commented: "Here in Heidelberg it has become very clear – we can do this. We have gained new insights and partners and forged new alliances. We have the knowledge and the willingness to work together and support one another in implementing the Paris Agreement. I now go to Berlin, New York and Santiago de Chile with strengthened resolve. Together, we are realising our goals with our co-hosts Heidelberg and Baden-Württemberg and with many cities, regions and networks from all corners of the world."
Franz Untersteller, Environment Minister of Baden-Württemberg, commented: "It is time to act. This is the spirit that marked all of the talks here at ICCA2019. The next years will be decisive in determining whether we can curb climate change and ensure a liveable planet for future generations. This view was shared by everyone here at the conference and this is why global networking among regional and local levels is so important. In the context of our Under2Coalition, this sense of togetherness is already becoming apparent. Successful climate action has to be a cooperative undertaking."
Minister Untersteller added that concrete climate action measures were discussed at the municipal climate action congress during ICCA. "Take the heating sector transition, for example. We want to move away from fossil energy sources and decarbonise our municipal heating networks. We already have successful models in municipalities and we will use these examples to drive forward this transition throughout the country."
Mayor Prof. Dr Eckhart Würzner remarked: "Here at ICCA2019, cities and regions from all over the world have presented many examples of effective climate action at local level. Oslo is working hard on electric mobility. Cape Town, which is committed to renewable energy and efficiency. And New Orleans, where new climate adaptation strategies are being tested. We need more pioneers like these! Cities have a bridging function to ensure that at all levels of government we achieve the transition to sustainable environmental policy and climate-friendly economic policy. I am very pleased that the Partnership Declaration emphasises cooperation between municipalities, states, nations, NGOs, businesses and international organisations. In particular, civil society actors such as the Fridays for Future movement have been very active in this context. It is only by taking this collaborative approach that we can achieve our climate targets."
The International Conference on Climate Action in Heidelberg was held on 22 and 23 May 2019 and hosted by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety together with the Federal State of Baden-Württemberg and the City of Heidelberg. During the conference, over 1,000 participants from over 100 countries worked together intensively for climate action. Above all, it became clear how crucial it is to have the right framework conditions that allow cities and municipalities to exercise their roles as players in climate action and sustainable development. Such framework conditions range from expertise on financial resources through to regulatory conditions. In addition, the conference participants all agreed these conditions need to be improved quickly.
A significant result of ICCA2019 is the Partnership Declaration on Collaborative Climate Action across all levels of government. In the declaration, states, cities, municipalities, federal states, regions and networks committed to more cooperation, communication and support in the implementation of the Paris Agreement and the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and set out priority actions to achieve this. The declaration was adopted during the high-level round table by representatives of all thee levels of government and their networks.
More partners are likely to join the declaration after ICCA2019 with a view to working together to implement it and make it a valuable contribution to the UN Secretary General’s Climate Action Summit in September.
Another outcome of the conference in Heidelberg is practical recommendations for action for better collaboration for more ambitious climate action and sustainable development e.g. regarding the removal of obstacles in financing local projects or the participation of citizens in implementing municipal climate action programmes. Furthermore, work was carried out on initiatives which will enable cities and municipalities to take ambitious climate action and promote the development of sustainable infrastructures. A number of these outcomes and initiatives will be further developed over the coming months and forwarded to the UN Climate Action Summit, where they will then be announced in September. A summary of the conference results – the "Heidelberg Outcome" – will be available shortly on the conference website.