Local Voices, Global Impact: COP28 and the Rise of Subnational Climate Governance

The UN Climate Change 28th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP28) will take place in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) from 30 November to 12 December 2023. The event will bring together world leaders, ministers, and negotiators to discuss global transformative climate action. This year’s meeting is particularly significant as it coincides with the first Global Stocktake since the adoption of the Paris Agreement, providing a comprehensive assessment of progress. Additionally, COP28 recognizes the crucial role of subnational governments in tackling climate-related issues, making it a decisive moment for international climate action.

The Local Governments and Municipal Authorities (LGMA) Constituency represents networks of local and regional governments under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). LGMA has served as the voice of cities and regions since the first COP in 1995 and continues to achieve advocacy success for multilevel action in the climate, nature, and desertification processes. ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability proudly serves as the focal point for the LGMA Constituency to the UNFCCC.


COP28 – a gamechanger for subnational government’s climate actions

The role of subnational governments is crucial and indispensable in a just and resilient transition to achieve global climate goals. Subnational governments drive climate actions at the local level through their own policies, regulations, and investments in infrastructure, which in turn sends a strong market signal and therefore catalyzes further private sector investment and innovation.

The COP28 will include a two-day Local Climate Action Summit (LCAS), and Xie Zhenhua, Special Envoy for Climate Change of China and John Kerry, U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate Change will be included as the global co-chairs of the Summit. The two countries recently co-released the Sunnylands Statement to reaffirm their commitment to work together with other countries to address the climate crisis. The Summit will be a first-of-its-kind gathering to recognize the critical role local leaders play in reducing emissions, addressing climate risk, and supercharging national efforts to move further and faster on climate progress.


ICLEI invited two Mongolian cities to the Local Climate Action Summit

Hosted by the COP28 Presidency and Bloomberg Philanthropies, the LCAS aims to bring together hundreds of national and subnational climate leaders to transform climate finance, enhance global action, fast-track the energy transition, and strengthen resilience and adaptation at the local level. The LCAS is backed by the world-leading networks of local leaders as well as subnational partner organizations including ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy, United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), US Conference of Mayors, the Under2 Coalition, UN-Habitat, and others.

The LCAS, scheduled for December 1 and 2 at the Blue Zone, will be a key tactic to accomplish the COP28 Subnational Goals. A historic delegation of 500 mayors and governors across the world is to attend the World Climate Action Summit. Specifically, the LCAS will

  1. Elevate the role and significance of subnational governments at COP28.
  2. Accelerate climate action by integrating subnational action into national climate goals and plans.
  3. Improve access to sustainable financial mechanisms to mobilize dollars in public & private investment needed at subnational level.

ICLEI invited two Mongolian cities, Ulaanbaatar and Darkhan, to the LCAS. Since Ulaanbaatar City joined ICLEI’s global network in 2014, ICLEI has collaborated with multiple stakeholders to promote the transformation into sustainable cities in Mongolia. With genuine support from COP28 Presidency and Bloomberg Philanthropies, ICLEI has opened up a significant opportunity to amplify the voices of Mongolian cities alongside other East Asian cities in the global climate negotiation process.

In an open letter sent to the COP28 UAE Presidency, UN Climate Change, The World Bank, and High-Level Climate Champions ahead of COP28, mayors, governors, and leaders of subnational sustainability networks are calling for full-scale coordination between local, regional, and national leaders to achieve the targets of the Paris Agreement.


Five Chinese cities and regions hold side events at the China Pavilion

The Ministry of Ecology and Environment of China will be in charge of coordinating various thematic activities at the China Pavilion from November 30th to December 11th. This year, five Chinese cities and regions, namely Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, and Jiangsu Province, will be holding side events focusing on the local governments’ engagement and ambition to introduce the major policies, measures, and practical actions they have taken to combat climate change in recent years.

The side event themed “Actions and Progress for Addressing Climate Change and Reducing Pollution and Carbon Emissions in Beijing” will be jointly hosted by Beijing Municipal Ecology and Environment Bureau and ICLEI on November 30. Distinguished speakers from international agencies, local governments from both home and abroad, universities and research institutions, and NGOs etc. will gather to discuss Beijing’s climate actions. They will share Beijing’s actions and progress in pollution control and addressing climate change, demonstrate typical local cases, present the capital city’s high quality development progress, and offer Beijing’s solution as a megacity to implement the strategy on carbon peaking and carbon neutrality, as well as a model for advancing green and low carbon development.

ICLEI will also support the other four cities and regions’ side events in showcasing their experience and practices, promoting relevant achievements and cases, and conducting in-depth exchanges and discussions with other cities and international organizations on climate change actions.


Multilevel Action & Urbanization Pavilion at COP28

The Multilevel Action & Urbanization Pavilion, co-convened by LGMA, ICLEI and UN-Habitat, and co-hosted by the Scottish Government and Bloomberg Philanthropies, with partnership from GCoM and C40, serves as the global stage for the cities and regions’ climate agenda during COP28. The Pavilion will bring into focus not only the challenges and needs, but also the accomplishments and commitments of local and subnational actors on climate action.

The inclusive platform brings together cities, towns, regions, and representatives from the Local Governments and Municipal Authorities (LGMA) Constituency organizations, as well as individuals and groups dedicated to supporting local and subnational actors in playing more substantial roles in achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement.

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