Global Covenant of Mayors focuses on driving climate action in cities

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Bloomberg and Šefčovič announce plans to develop a City Research & Innovation Agenda


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The Global Covenant of Mayors’ Co-Chairs, the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Climate Action Michael Bloomberg, and European CommissionVice-President Maroš Šefčovič on March 22 announced plans to develop a City Research & Innovation Agenda to address critical knowledge, data and innovation gaps that will enable cities to take accelerated and more ambitious climate action.

According to the Global Covenant of Mayors, which opened its new headquarters in Brussels plans to develop a City Research & Innovation Agenda will be co-developed by engaging cities and city networks as well as scientists and research institutions around the world, to complement the IPCC research agenda on the science of cities and climate change.

The City Research and Innovation Agenda will be discussed with the mayors and ministers alongside the third Mission Innovation Ministerial on May 23-24 in Malmö/Copenhagen with the goal to include cities’ needs in national research agendas. It will be taken forward at the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco this September, the Global Covenant of Mayors said, noting that this new initiative will provide the science needed to make cities more livable, prosperous and healthy and to ensure the successful implementation of the Paris Agreement.

The City Research and Innovation Agenda will focus on some of the most critical areas to drive climate action in cities, including frontier-research on low-carbon urban infrastructure, e.g. smart grids, access to affordable green energy, low carbon heating and cooling of buildings, e-mobility and integrated public transport systems, as well as adaptation responses such as resilient infrastructure and early warning systems.

It will support national-based decisions on climate change mitigation at the local level as well as resilience measures to help cities cope with the effects of climate change and it will provide local governments and practitioners with city level data to help them understand where they stand and how to use smart data for inclusive governance and financing, better planning and more ambitious action, with a special focus on the rapidly urbanizing areas in the Global South.

The initiative will also help deliver on the America’s Pledge commitment of cities, business and universities to ensure that the United States deliver the country’s ambitious climate goals of the Paris agreement.

“The mayors recognise that if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. Data allows them to identify challenges and opportunities – and respond,” Bloomberg said. “This new collaborative effort gives cities access to critical resources that will help them do more, faster, to take on climate change.”

For his part, Šefčovič noted that cities are experimenting with innovative solutions. “It is in cities that most of the technological innovations and nature based solutions will be deployed to increase resilience and improve the well-being of citizens that charging points for urban electric vehicles will be rolled out, that decentralised renewable energy production will take off and smart buildings in energy positive neighbourhoods will be constructed,” he said, adding, “This research and innovation agenda will create a pathway to channel existing funding commitments around research and innovation and develop a new research pipeline that will mobilize resources and knowledge generation for cities. I am looking forward to the Mission Innovation Ministerial on May 23-24 in Malmö/Copenhagen where we will further develop this ambitious agenda,” said Šefčovič, who will host the event.

Mayor Don Iveson from Edmonton in Canada stressed that local research is essential in reducing a city’s environmental footprint and in developing locally tailored climate actions and solutions.

“In order for Edmonton and cities around the world to lead in the global effort to address climate change, sound research and city data is imperative. That’s why we were pleased to host the recent CitiesIPCC conference in Edmonton, and the Edmonton Declaration speaks to furthering that commitment around the world,” he said.

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