Urban leaders call on G20 to respond immediately to ‘climate emergency’

Urban leaders call on G20 to respond immediately to 'climate emergency'

Urban leaders from the major world cities made an impassioned call to the Group of 20 to commit and respond “immediately to the climate emergency” by substantially reducing greenhouse gas emissions to deliver the 50 percent global reduction required by 2030 and “reach carbon neutrality no later than 2050”.

They urged the world major economies to invest and collaborate with U20 in critical areas crucial to support sustainable urbanization in the years ahead in a 27-point U20 communiqué at the end of the three-day Riyadh-Led Urban 20 (U20) summit which brought together 42 cities and welcomed more than 500 participants from around the world.

Post-pandemic world

The communiqué, which was prepared following nine months of seminal research and analysis into rebuilding cities in a more sustainable; inclusive; and naturally diverse way in a post-pandemic world to achieve equitable; carbon-neutral; inclusive; and healthy societies was endorsed by a record 39 mayors and city leaders.

Endorsing cities included Barcelona, Berlin, Buenos Aires, London, Los Angeles, Madrid, Montreal, Osaka, Paris, Rome, Seoul, and Tokyo.

In the communiqué, the urban heads also emphasized a categorical imperative for G20 member states to ensure that national governments “must crucially invest directly in cities as the engines of the recovery,” according to the five-page official document.

U20 chair Fahd Al-Rasheed, president of the Royal Commission for Riyadh City; called on the mayors and city representatives in virtual attendance. This is to help people “find a way to thrive despite the circumstances.”

“We must prepare them for a future shaped by climate, contagion, and connectivity. Finding the answers to these topics is why we are here.”

Storied civilization

“It is the reason the U20 comes together to form solutions for the urban world. The solutions we discuss, examine, explore, and take forward will be the legacy we leave. It’s our chance to determine the role that cities play in the next phase of our storied civilization,” Al-Rasheed also added.

Addressing participants, UN-Habitat Executive Director Maimunah Sharif stated: “I would like to thank the Government of Saudi Arabia and our generous host; the Royal Commission for Riyadh City for the huge efforts made to organize the U20 as part of the chairmanship of Saudi Arabia to the G20 in 2020.”

Houston Sherpa Christopher Olsen also lauded: “The amazing work of Riyadh built on what achieved in Tokyo and Buenos Aires. It has carried it forward.”

Biggest challenges

“It’s the cities of the world that face the biggest challenges — such as climate change, human rights, and sustainable development. But the cities are also coming up with solutions. That is where the opportunities lie”

Gov. Yoriko Koike of Tokyo added: “We all must work together to win this harsh battle against COVID-19; and achieve equitable, sustainable, inclusive and healthy societies. While continuing to take up the challenge of forging the future Tokyo, we wish to move forward in partnership with the cities of the world for a sustainable recovery; namely the shared goal of realizing a resilient and sustainable society.”

Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta of Buenos Aires noted: “The COVID-19 pandemic made clear the vital role cities play; in protecting both our people and our planet. Buenos Aires, the first-ever chair of the U20, convinced that dialogue with the G20 is important. Also, the cooperation needed to foster a sustainable transformation must include cities. Only then we will be able to safeguard the prosperity of our communities. Besides, reaching the targets set forth in the 2030 Agenda and Paris Agreement.”