e-News | Special Climate Edition, December 2008
word from the Secretary General
What a vibrant year drawing to its close!
Our global association has grown at unprecedented pace. In August 2008 we welcomed the City of Basel (Switzerland) as our 900th Member. Only three months later, we celebrated Mumbai, India as our 1000th Member at the World Urban Forum in Nanjing (China).
Our USA Office has built a national membership network of more than 500 cities and towns that have embarked on ambitious local agendas to combat climate change. Our Africa Secretariat has built a global capacity pool in the area of Urban Biodiversity, as our South Asia Secretariat has built the same for Local Renewables. Our International Training Center (ITC) has led the development of such new initiatives and supported the building of regional capacities. The Southeast Asia Secretariat leads our involvement in a partnership on Urban Disaster Risk Reduction. The Latin America & Caribbean Secretariat significantly grew its teams in Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo and Mexico. The European Secretariat, offering all six of ICLEI’s global programs, has recruited relevant new Members and widened its outreach. The Japan and Korea offices have continued programs on inter-regional exchange and capacity building. And, to illustrate our concept of regional offices with global responsibility, let me report that our global ‘Information and Communication Technologies’ is now lead out of the Oceania Secretariat.
The World Secretariat office has moved to a new location in downtown Toronto, “401 Richmond”. Its new branch office, an International Program Center, will be opened in the City of Bonn, Germany in January 2009 to house the nucleus of a Global Cities Climate Center as well as our business relations department and the Secretariats of the World Mayors Council on Climate Change and the Global Alliance for EcoMobility.
While our work has been thriving in all of the world’s regions, ICLEI has been present on the global stage and been active at the UNEP Governing Council and Global Ministerial Environment Forum sessions in Monaco; the UN-HABITAT Governing Council meeting in Nairobi; the UN Commission on Sustainable Development's 16th session in New York; the International Disaster Reduction Conference in Davos; the IUCN World Congress in Barcelona; the OECD Competitive Cities meeting in Milan; the World Economic Forum in Davos and its New Champions meeting in Tianjin; the Summit on the Global Agenda in Dubai; and the World Urban Forum in Nanjing
In December 2008, the United Nations Climate Conference (COP14) in Poznan, Poland was a key milestone in the Local Government Climate Roadmap, which is a partnership with UCLG, Metropolis, C40 and the World Mayors Council on Climate Change that ICLEI is coordinating. Within ICLEI, the European Secretariat and ITC co-lead the Roadmap process. The three-day Local Government Climate Sessions (LGCS) brought together over 400 delegates. Local governments have sent a clear message to the national governments: they want their role as necessary partners in addressing climate change to be formally recognised. We are proposing a “COP Decision on Cities, Local Authorities and Climate Change”, the draft for which was presented to the high-level segment of COP14 by Municipal Commissioner of Thane (India), Mr Nadkumar Jantre.
We have been successful in building stronger relations to the business sector, especially by engaging as a partner in the SlimCity initiative of the World Economic Forum. Next year we shall launch the „ICLEI Dialogues“ as opportunities for city-to-business dialogues on urban sustainability solutions. My appointment as member of the Global Agenda Council on Urban Development honours ICLEI’s experience and achievements in a special way.
“Partnership” is the word of the year. Funders and donors like partnerships and often make them a condition for funding of projects. However, the ability of esteemed international agencies, banks, governments, businesses and NGOs to engage in true partnerships varies. We have experienced friendly but also exploitative relationships, and if I will ever find time, I will present my experiences in a publication to challenge a debate on this exciting theme.
The new year 2009 will bring our “Connecting Leaders” World Congress in Edmonton, Canada from 14-18 June 2009. I would like to see delegations from all ICLEI Members worldwide come to Edmonton to learn about success stories from other parts of the world, to receive ideas from the world leading experts and to engage in strategic discussions on the way forward towards sustainability in a world facing rapid urbanization as well as climate, water, food and financial crises.
“Local Action Moves the World” has been our motto during this decade. ICLEI’s Membership must continue showing local leadership in moving the world towards a liveable planet, and we must do so in partnerships. Therefore, let’s go to Edmonton for “Connecting Leaders”.
Happy holidays, and health and prosperity for you, your families and communities