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C40 Cities forum clamours urgent investor action for Africa’s sustainable future

Experts have called on investors to promote inclusive financing models in Africa’s leading cities, while recognising their potential.

Johannesburg, South Africa, played host to the C40 Cities’ Financing Sustainable African Cities Forum for the first time

At the C40 Cities’ Financing Sustainable African Cities Forum held on Wednesday, June 12, 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa, city officials and investors gathered to address pressing climate challenges, stressing the need for global collaboration as, according to them, shared climate mission must transcend national and industry borders.

At the yearly event that held for the first time in South Africa, African mayors stated that though inspiring citizens to live sustainably is a good start, systemic infrastructure development enabled by public and private investment is nonetheless critical to sustainable city transformation.

The transformational potential of African cities, a need for inclusive financing models and collective responsibility in the global fight for sustainability were key themes of the C40 Cities’ forum, which was supported by Citi Foundation.

The event provided a high-profile platform for over 50 African city officials to highlight their role as climate leaders, share experiences, challenges and opportunities with investors, government representatives, international stakeholders and not-for-profit organisations. They also showcased the need for decisive city-led climate action and the potential of African cities for sustainable infrastructure investment.

Executive Mayor of the City of Johannesburg, Herman Mashaba, took to the stage to emphasise the global scope of our shared fight for sustainability and the vital role of African city investment in progressing this fight.

“Some leaders argue that the effects of climate change are the result of years of neglect by developed countries. But we need to focus on what every single nation can do right now to improve our shared future. Let us not delude ourselves; a lack of development does not exempt us from taking responsibility for our collective destiny. Rather than dwelling upon who brought us to this point, we must focus on putting sustainable development front and centre in all of our work,” he said.

James Alexander, Director of the City Finance Programme, C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, said: “In recent years, the world has started waking up to the potential of cities to save us from climate disaster. Cities are where the action is happening, and the global leadership is being shown. However, securing the financing to unlock the potential, impact and innovation of cities is still a key issue, and that’s why it’s so important to bring together city, government and investment leaders through the C40 Financing Sustainable Cities Initiative. By developing financing solutions between city mayors and officials, and the investors who can unlock critical sustainability solutions, we’re building a sustainable urban future for generations to come.”

Key speakers included: Executive Mayor Herman Mashaba, City of Johannesburg; Executive Mayor Stevens Mokgalapa, City of Tshwane; Honourable Mohammed Adjei Sowah, Mayor of Accra & C40 Vice Chair for Africa; Val Smith, Managing Director and Global Head, Corporate Sustainability, Citi; James Alexander, Director, City Finance Programme, C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group; Jerrod Moodley, Rand Merchant Bank; and Rose Molokoane, SDI & FEDUP.

Panel topics covered financial tools for climate adaptation in cities, the importance of multi-stakeholder partnerships, and aligning inclusivity with sustainability and partnerships to develop clean transportation and energy. The event led into two days of workshop sessions for cities to discuss new ideas for sustainable change, share expertise and determine next steps in their journey to tackle climate change.

C40 Cities connects 94 of the world’s leading cities to take bold climate action, leading the way towards a healthier and more sustainable future. Representing 700+ million citizens and one quarter of the global economy, mayors of the C40 cities are committed to delivering on the most ambitious goals of the Paris Agreement at the local level, as well as to cleaning the air we breathe.

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