The Seoul Mayors Forum on Climate Change, which took place on 1 to 2 September 2016 in Seoul City Hall in Korea, focused on how leading local government coalitions – the Compact of Mayors and newly formed Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy – relate to the Paris Agreement, as well as the New Urban Agenda to be adopted at the Habitat III Conference.
The Forum featured discussions among local leaders as they shaped a message towards nations and international fora. Through the Seoul Communiqué, delivered by Mayor Park Won Soon at the closing session, 34 cities and towns stated their commitment to climate action and called on nations to raise their ambitions as part of an inclusive, coordinated implementation process to achieve global climate goals.
Through the Seoul Communiqué, these cities and towns came together to encourage:
- Nations to work with all levels of government, including local governments, in implementing national climate action plans, known as nationally determined contributions (NDCs).
- The United Nations Climate Change Secretariat to recognise the Compact of Mayors as a key initiative that demonstrates, through hard data, how local governments are supporting progress towards national climate goals.
- Local governments around the world to commit to the Compact of Mayors and join other key thematic initiatives that support local climate progress, such as the 100% Renewable Energy Cities and Regions Network and the Global Lead City Network on Sustainable Procurement (GLCN).
- Global financial institutions to dramatically improve city access to climate finance, and to consider supporting transformative projects that are part of the ICLEI-managed Transformative Actions Program (TAP).
Habitat III negotiations enhance the engagement of the cities and local governments in the New Urban Agenda, which will shape the course for urbanisation in the coming decades, including steps toward mitigating and coping with climate change.
Through the communiqué, these cities and towns also encouraged national governments to ratify the Paris Agreement as quickly as possible, indicating their consent to be bound to the agreement so that it can have legal force.
These statements build on the fact that the Paris Agreement recognises the importance of engagement of all levels of governments in effective implementation, as well as the role of non-party stakeholders, including cities and subnational governments. These developments will have an impact on local governments, while it is also clear that no nation can successfully achieve its goals without the decisive contribution of cities and local governments – the implementers of the plans and policies.
With the title “Local Climate Commitments in Raising the Ambitions of the Paris Agreement,” the Forum gathered a select group of leaders from cities around the globe committed to the Compact of Mayors. The forum was organised by Seoul Metropolitan Government in collaboration with ICLEI.
Today more than 500 cities and local governments around the world are committed to the Compact of Mayors. Forty-nine cities are already fully compliant, tracking progress in a coherent framework, showing the global community the power of local climate action. The newly announced merger of the Compact of Mayors and the European Covenant of Mayors, forming the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy to be rolled out in 2017, will see enhanced support for local climate and energy action.
The event was an opportunity to present progress and explore what support is needed to help local governments respond to existing challenges, particularly in light of new relevant frameworks. It also enabled local governments to explore a pathway for further cooperation with a view to helping raise the global climate ambition.