As negotiators gathered for the latest round of talks under the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change in Bonn this week, some 500 mayors had their own gathering just down the road, where they discussed how local changes can make real differences at the first Resilient Cities conference.

The event, co-hosted by ICLEI’s Local Governments for Sustainable Development, the World Mayors Council on Climate Change and the City of Bonn, aimed to build on the successful meeting of mayors in Copenhagen last December.

While talks between world leaders stalled, City Halls on five continents reported their own progress and shared good practice.

Konrad Otto-Zimmermann, Secretary General of ICLEI, said this week’s meeting offered a perfect opportunity to build on existing connections and forge new ones.

“The well-established disaster risk community and those who work in climate change need to work together to accelerate adaptation in cities,” he said.

“We need to strengthen this movement of ‘adaptationists’.”

Mayors promised to safeguard the urban poor from the effects of climate change, to press for greater local government involvement in international climate proceedings and to allocate more funds to cities’ climate adaptation.

They also showed that they plan to continue with talks parallel to the UN framework, setting out a local leader’s roadmap for climate adaptation preceding the UN Climate Talks (COP16) in Cancún, Mexico.

“Ultimately, it is cities that will directly face and directly deal with climate change impacts,” said Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, who spoke emphatically about cities’ role in international climate adaptation at the final plenary of the Congress.

“We know from past experience that the poor in all countries suffer most from the impacts of climate change. Local authorities are hard placed to provide [help] without a national and international policy framework,” de Boer said. “National governments should not be allowed to get away with this.”

Sam Bond

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