International leaders share climate strategies for cities

A recent urban resilience and climate conference in Bonn, Germany discussed some exciting projects for Australian local governments – including a burgeoning urban food network.

The 8th ICLEI Global Forum on Urban Resilience and Adaptation coincided with the Bonn United Nations mid-year climate conference and discussed how cities across the world could tackle climate change at the local level.

Hosted by ICLEI – Local Governments For Sustainability, the conference had a few major takeaways for Australian local governments.

A key initiative that ICLEI is gearing up to launch in Australia is the CITYFOOD Network, a framework to help urban councils make their food systems more sustainable and self-sufficient.

Steve Gawler, Regional Director ICLEI Oceania, said although some councils and community groups are already active in this area, “a lot of cities and councils are looking to do something more systematic” in their approach.

The network would encourage urban and peri-urban food production and investigate how cities can create shorter food supply chains for their local areas.

Also discussed at the conference was the Principles for Sustainable Insurance (PSI) Initiative in which insurance companies are encouraged to partner with cities to invest in climate resilient infrastructure and strategies.

Later in the year ICLEI will be inviting mayors to attend the UN Convention on Climate Change (COP 23) in Bonn as part of the global Compact of Mayors commitment initiative.

Mr Gawler said the conference allows Australian local leaders to “participate in discussions that shape the conversation internationally” and those who attended the previous UN COP 21 in Paris brought major benefits back home: “They’re now leaders in their community…we can just stand back and watch.”

COP 23 will be held in Bonn, but chaired by Fiji, to bring a focus to the impacts of climate change on small island communities.
Also fast approaching on the calendar is the ECOCITY World Summit, which will be held in Melbourne in July.

Mr Gawler said the international summit is “a major scoop” for Melbourne as it will bring world-class urban policy makers and researchers to the doorstop of Australian councils. Hon Al Gore is scheduled as keynote speaker.

The event runs from 12-14 July. More information can be found at Mr Gawler urged all councils interested in strengthening their sustainability initiatives to participate in ICLEI programs and the Compact of Mayors, and to attend the Ecocity Summit.