26 October 2020
Multilateralism Needs Multilevel Cooperation: Daring Cities Meeting for UN75
Aerial View of a Crossing in Mexico City
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ICLEI held a virtual meeting to address cities' central role in climate governance.

The meeting was held on the occasion of the UN’s 75th anniversary, as part of the Daring Cities Forum.

Participants discussed the Voluntary Local Review recently released by the City of Bonn, Germany, as well as the ICLEI Blueprint, a proposal for “multilevel collaboration in the age of inclusive multilateralism”.

ICLEI held a virtual meeting on the occasion of the UN’s 75th anniversary (UN75) to address cities’ central role in climate governance given their high energy consumption and emission levels. Cities are responsible for 70% of global energy consumption and 80% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, as participants were reminded by Christoph Heusgen, Permanent Representative of Germany.

The meeting convened on 23 October 2020 under the auspices of the Daring Cities Forum. Daring Cities is a series of virtual events aimed at “urban leaders taking on the climate emergency.” It is taking place from 7-28 October 2020.

Multilevel cooperation is a logical progression from multilateralism.

Speakers discussed the ICLEI Blueprint, a proposal for “multilevel collaboration in the age of inclusive multilateralism,” in the words of Frank Cownie, Mayor of Des Moines, US, and ICLEI Vice President and spokesperson to the UN. Cownie said the Blueprint calls for local and regional governments to be at the heart of the “new UN.” The Blueprint is built on four “cornerstones”:

  • Global engagement through annual high-level consultations with the Chief Executives of the UN System;
  • Regional engagement through increased collaboration between the UN Regional Commissions and UN host cities;
  • National engagement with UN Country Coordinators through national associations; and 
  • Local2030 hubs and local engagement, by mobilizing additional resources to champion local and regional governments engaged in the work of the UN.

Yunus Arikan, ICLEI World Secretariat, said the need for multilevel governance is increasingly being recognized within the UN system. Peter Lange, Foreign Federal Office, Germany, added that multilevel cooperation is a logical progression from multilateralism. Stefan Wagner, City of Bonn, stressed the importance of cities’ involvement in multilateral fora, especially the UN. Sabine Drees, Association of German Cities, called for increasing the visibility of sub-national movements.

Participants exchanged views on the various roles of a voluntary local review (VLR) of SDG implementation. Maimunah Sharif, Executive Director, UN-Habitat, said VLRs are a tool to: facilitate civic engagement in local decision-making; support the mainstreaming of SDGs in local plans and strategies; guide public investments; and facilitate connections and peer learning with other cities and regions. Shipra Narang Suri, UN-Habitat, added that VLRs can mobilize and galvanize action, in addition to being a monitoring tool.

Riina Jussila, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), said VLRs can also support communication between levels of government. She described VLRs a “new means of SDG implementation.”

The meeting included a focus on the City of Bonn, Germany, which released its first VLR on 6 October 2020. The Mayor of Bonn, ICLEI President Ashok Sridharan, presented the VLR to participants. He said it uses 46 indicators, and is seen as a tool to engage and communicate with stakeholders.

Local officials shared insights from Bristol, UK, Catbalogan, Philippines, and Quelimane, Mozambique. Manuel de Araujo, Mayor of Quelimane, said his city was the first in Mozambique to devise a climate adaptation plan and has since shared its experience with other cities in the country.

UN-Habitat reported that it is providing guidance to cities on developing their VLRs, beginning with Florence, Italy, and Moscow, Russian Federation. [Earth Negotiations Bulletin meeting coverage]

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