On 12 November, local and regional leaders from around the world issued the “Bonn-Fiji Commitment of Local and Regional Leaders to Deliver the Paris Agreement at All Levels”, a pledge that signals their commitment to bring forward a critical shift in global development.
Hundreds of local and regional leaders adopted the commitment at the Climate Summit of Local and Regional Leaders, at the UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn (COP23, to 16 November), signaling their commitments, their actions and intention to work in partnership with all levels of government.
Co-hosted by Ashok Sridharan, Mayor of Bonn and First Vice President of ICLEI, and Armin Laschet, Minister-President of State of North-Rhine Westphalia, the Summit was attended by over 330 political leaders and more than 1000 delegates.
It was the first time that a summit of local and regional leaders was held on the premises of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The event was guided by Cathy Oke, Councillor of Melbourne, Australia and member of the ICLEI Global Executive Committee, as the master of ceremony.
"Welcome to the power and potential of local and regional governments from all continents," said Mayor Sridharan at the opening. "We are here to be part of the process from the first step onward. We are here to forge new coalitions, to act and collaborate for our climate and to encourage civil society, businesses and our peers in cities and regions to join the #Uniting4Climate movement."
Minister-President Armin Laschet followed: "Welcome to the age of sustainable development." He acknowledge that local and regional governments have a vital role to play in enacting programs and schemes to curb climate change.
Throughout the day, speakers from all levels of government presented their actions, announced new initiatives and looked at ways to advance cooperation between all levels of government, with the community and with the private sector. They highlighted the key role of local and regional governments.
"Cities cannot win the fight on their own, but without cities, the fight cannot be won at all," said Hans-Joachim Fuchtel, Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) of Germany.
Frank Bainimarama, Prime Minister of Fiji and COP23 President, underscored subnational power: "We can draw from the power and enthusiasm of local and regional leaders in the mission to tackle climate change. So many of you have already demonstrated how to make decisions and implement them."
Jerry Brown and Arnold Schwarzenegger, the current and former governors of California gave keynote addresses at the Summit.
"Cities, states and regions hold tremendous power, especially when you work together," said Arnold Schwarzenegger. "We are the laboratories of reform, we are the engines of innovation and we are where the action is."
“We are at a closer level to the people, so that gives us a particular directness and energy with which we can carry out our work of dealing with this overarching challenge of climate change,” stated Governor Brown.
This historic Summit was a celebration of the many commitments of local and regional governments and their partners who support and work alongside them. It featured the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy and the Under2 Coalition, two key global coalitions of local and regional governments committed to climate action.
The Bonn-Fiji commitment solidifies their dedication to deliver on the goals of the Paris Agreement and to keep the global temperature rise well below two degrees Celsius.
Read the relevant ICLEI press release here