Bonn 10 June 2015—UN-Habitat hosted a side event at the Bonn Climate Change Conference where participants discussed cities as well as the new urban agenda. The Bonn conference was organised by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) under the theme Cities and Climate Change: from new climate agenda to new urban agenda and brought together some 60 participants drawn from across the globe.

Kicking off the meeting, session moderator Robert Kehew, head of the Climate Change Unit at UN-Habitat, spoke on the coordination of the two global agendas related to cities, namely the climate change agreement in Paris in 2015, and discussions on a new urban agenda at Habitat III Quito in 2016. Daniele Violetti, Chief of Staff, UNFCCC, acknowledged the importance of cities and subnational level actors in addressing climate change, noting that a recent study concluded that 90% of cities are in coastal and low-lying areas.

He highlighted workstream two discussions at the UNFCCC involving contributions from non-state actors including from the sub-national level, including Technical Expert Meeting discussions on the work of cities in enhancing energy efficiency. Jürgen Nimptsch, Mayor of Bonn and member of the Executive Board of Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI), spoke on inclusiveness and ambition at the city level, stressing that “nothing works without these two elements.”

He underlined the importance of including the citizenry in city planning processes, and engaging them in ambitious plans. He highlighted ICLEI’s Transformative Actions Programme, noting that this opens the door for cities’ engagement at COP 21, and called for both the Paris agreement and the Quito outcome on a new urban agreement to enhance climate change action at the cities level.

On the potential involvement of local authorities in planning processes such as National Adaptation Plans (NAPs), Nummelin Matti, member of the Least Developed Countries Expert Group (LEG), emphasized the role of NAP global support programmes and highlighted other tools, programmes and products of the LEG, including: NAP Central, a website hosted by the UNFCCC where information on adaptation is gathered; and the NAP Expo which encourages information exchange.

Highlighting climate change, peace and security, and inequality as emerging issues for cities, Roi Chiti, Habitat III Secretariat, said Habitat III was taking place in the context of changes in the form of urbanization, higher demand for participation, and a growing global recognition of the role of urbanization to achieve sustainable development.

He identified entry points for local authorities to get involved, including inter alia, participating in national Habitat III reporting procedures, organizing national urban forums, and engaging in the intergovernmental process itself. Stressing the need to mainstream climate change in national planning processes, Pradeep Kurukulasuriya, UN Development Programme (UNDP), listed UNDP’s priorities on the road from Paris to Quito, including:

  1. Addressing governance issues that usually pit environment ministries against finance ministries
  2. Integrating solutions for both climate change and cities
  3. Addressing the barriers to private investment in climate actions

In the discussion, participants considered, among others;

  1. The role of the Global Compact in uniting cities to address climate change and the challenges faced in implementing the Compact
  2. The need for the sustainable development goals to catalyze action in cities in coastal areas
  3. How cities can influence the creation of ambitious Intended Nationally Determined Contributions
  4. The need for diversity and inclusiveness in development planning