“A successful strategy against climate change requires public policies and non-State actors’ measures to be articulated on the basis of a robust local approach, with a strong view to strengthening local and regional governance, to fostering fundamental rights protection and a sustainable human and gender-sensitive development.”
World Summit Climate & Territories (WSCT) is an important event in the global agenda for climate change in 2015. It is the main gathering of the subnational and local governments and other non-State actors in the discussions to COP21 in Paris.
Subnational and local governments and non-State actors can be considered as key stakeholders active in taking action to reduce GHG emissions and to adapt to the impacts of human induced climate change. It is clear that contribution of these key players is crucial for a successful dialogue and effective outcome from the Paris conference in December 2015.
This summit held in the cusp of the climate change agenda around the globe is an opportunity for the main non-State actors to provide their perspective and highlight the ‘importance of a territorial perspective on climate’.
The summit was hosted by Rhône-Alpes Region on July 01-02, 2015 in Lyon, France under the patronage of the President of the French Republic.
The Lima-Paris Action Agenda announced at COP20 called for the strengthening of climate action in 2015 and beyond. Having this theme in mind the WSCT 2015 was organised under two main objectives:
The commitments and the proposals presented were submitted to the French Presidency of COP21 and to all Parties to the UNFCCC.
The Summit was marked by the presence of many key actors on climate change. The speakers included national and international leaders: French President François Hollande; United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres; Assistant UN Secretary-General on Climate Change Janos Pasztor; French Foreign Affairs and International Development Minister Laurent Fabius; COP21 President Ségolène Royal; French Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy Minister Carole Dieschbourg; and Luxembourg Environment Minister and President of the European Union (from July 01, 2015).
Also attending were subnational and local government Leaders namely: Esther Alder – Mayor of Geneva, Jeannot Ahou S Sou-Kouadio –President of the Ivory Coast Districts and Regions Association, François Albert Amichia- President of Local Authorities council of the West Africa Economic and Monetary Union, Cao Guangjing- Deputy Governor, Hubei Province (China) and many more mayors, governors and ministers from around the world: Civil Society and Business Leaders such as: Sharan Burrow – General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), Delphine Blumereau – President, CliMates, Director General of Eco Emballages, Climate Action Network, World Resource Institute, CEO Veolia, Climate Change Coordinator for COICA, French President’s Special Envoy for the Protection of the Planet, ENGIE, Caisse des Dépôts Group, French development agency, Friends of Nature (China), Director of Sustainable Development, Schneider Electric etc.
The opening plenary session of the WSCT was held on the 1st of July, 2015. The speakers at the opening session included the President of the Rhône-Alpes Region Rhône-Alpes Region, French Senator and UCLG Climate Spokesperson, Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change (video message) and the French Secretary of State for Development and the Francophonie.
There were also a number of thematic workshops and side-events organized for the day. The main themes for the workshops included: adaptation, territorial planning, low carbon economy and jobs, decentralised cooperation and territorial partnership, forest.
The plenary session was organised under the theme ‘Climate: Society in Motion’. This session brought together non-state actors, representatives of the global youth, economic stakeholders and elected officials involved in climate action. The session was based on the results of the “World Wide Views on Climate and Energy”, the largest global citizen consultation on climate, results of which were presented at the Bonn Conference in June 2015.
Panel 1 themed ‘Economic Development and climate Change’ was a roundtable on climate action by business and trade union representatives. The 2nd panel was themed ‘Youth and Climate: Voices of Tomorrow’s Leaders’. This was organised for the representatives of the world’s youth involved in climate action to share their views, expectations and solutions to climate change. Panel 3 was themed ‘Subnational and Local Leaders: on the Front Line of Climate Action’. This panel highlighted the importance of the subnational and local leadership for climate change adaptation and emissions mitigation. The panel also discussed good practices in the fields of energy, transport, urban planning, waste management and citizen awareness-raising.
The first day of the summit concluded with the remarks by Mayor of the Rhône-Alpes Region, the address by the Vice-President of the European Commission in charge of the Energy Union and the keynote speech by the President of the French Republic.
Highlights of the day also included announcement of new signatories to the ‘Subnational Global Climate Leadership MoU (Under2MOU) and the signing ceremony of the MoU.
The day started off with a number of thematic workshops and side events. The themes for the day’s workshop were agriculture, mobility and transport, energy generation, distribution and consumption, climate finance and, education and mobilisation.
The plenary session of the day was organised under ‘Commitments and Proposals from Non-State Actors’ and divided into sections: Part 1- Proposals from Non-State Actors Outcomes of the Workshop’ which dealt with
Part 2 of the plenary session was organised to discuss ‘Commitments from Subnational and Local Governments’. The session also addressed 2020 commitments for carbon neutral cities;, compact of state and regions, covenant of mayors, carbon climate registry; 2050 commitments around Climate Alliance, eurocities, energy cities, metropolis.
Part 3 of the session was themed ‘Towards COP 21 and Beyond’. The day ended with the closing session that marked the conclusion of the summit.
The non-State actors as non-Party stakeholders to the UNFCCC have declared their will to fight climate change by aligning their local and regional actions with the decarobonisation of the world economy . This includes considering that the future is to be designed in a low carbon, resilient economy.
The WSCT was not an even held in isolation. It is intended to reinforce the long-term dynamic by gathering the political momentum of non-Party stakeholders towards climate change.
There are several previous resolutions prepared at a local and subnational level through various networks such as: Local Government Climate Roadmaps (Bali, 2007 and Nantes, 2013), the Durban Adaptation Charter (2009); the World Summits of States and Regions in Montreal (2005), Rio (2012), and Paris (2014); as well as the Bordeaux and Yamoussoukro Declarations (2015).
The current declaration relies on these resolutions as well as the joint declarations of non-Party stakeholders “Catalyzing Action” (New York, 2014), the Lifou declaration (Oceania 21), or made at the MEDCOP21 (Marseille, 2015).
The summit is seen as an opportunity for participatory dialogue, commitment and proposals with the inclusion of various non-Party stakeholders.
The declaration reached at the 2015 summit states that they “consider the fight against climate change cannot be achieved without a truly local and subnational approach that takes into account economic, social, cultural and environmental realities. A successful strategy against climate change requires public policies and non-State actors’ measures to be articulated on the basis of a robust local approach, with a strong view to strengthening local and regional governance, to fostering fundamental rights protection and a sustainable human and gender-sensitive development.”
The declaration affirms that global trends of negotiations on development and climate cannot be addressed separately: synergies are necessary between the discussions around the Financing for development Conference, the Post-2015 Development Agenda, Habitat III and COP21.
They also emphasised on the importance of financing for territorial initiatives, in order strengthen the local and subnational capacities “with a view to developing a strong global action’ and highlighted that the developing countries should get ‘privileged access to international facilities’.
The commitment made in collaboration in Lyon is not merely symbolic, it is intended to generate cogent results that have already been managed to successfully reduce their GHG emissions and undertake ambitious climate adaptation policies.
The pledges of the non-Party stakeholders have managed to support the governments in building up a binding, universal agreement in Paris.
Bhagya is an attorney-at-law, and a researcher. She focuses on policy and legal research on climate change, and environment, environmental rights, human rights, and sustainable development.