From left: South Africa President Jacob Zuma; Manguang, South Africa mayor Thabo Manyoni; COP17 President and South African environment minister Edna Molewa; Durban mayor James Nxumalo; ICLEI president David Cadman
By Denis McClean
DURBAN, 5 December 2011
- The Durban Climate Change Adaptation Charter for Local Government adopted yesterday was hailed by UNISDR Chief, Margareta Wahlstrom, as "the best possible start to a critical week in the life of this planet when we so urgently need real leadership on mitigation and adaptation."
She said: “Local governments are blazing a trail for nation states to follow. Just as they did in Cancun during the COP 16 talks, ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability are leading the way with practical measures to tackle climate change.
“Since last year they have been delivering on their commitments to monitor and report on their efforts to cut carbon emissions by 80% by 2050 compared to 1990 levels. Now they are tackling adaptation and UNISDR which numbers many ICLEI members in its ‘Making Cities Resilient’ Campaign hopes their arguments for direct access to adaptation funding will get a sympathetic hearing at the high-level segment of COP17.”
The Charter was agreed during the three-day Durban Local Government Convention in Durban City Hall – a stone’s throw from the site of the main climate change talks hosted by the UNFCCC - attended by over 750 people including mayors, local government representatives, MPs, government ministers, NGO and UN staff, including UNISDR.
The Charter was read out by James Nxumalo, the Mayor of eThekwini Municipality which includes Durban, who then led a signing procession of 93 Mayors and local government leaders representing a total of 560 cities, towns and municipalities from across the globe including New Delhi, Dar Es Salaam, Banjul, Lagos, Windhoek, Thimpu, Dakar, Vancouver and Buenos Aires.
The signatories call upon local, sub-national and regional governments to commit and upscale action to accelerate their adaptation efforts by committing to a series of measures including mainstreaming adaptation in local government planning; impact and vulnerability assessments; alignment with mitigation strategies; direct access to funding including “a local adaptation thematic window in the Green Climate Fund’; and partnerships.
They also designated Mayor Nxumalo to present the Charter to the high level segment of COP17/CMP7 meeting getting underway this week and to urge the Conference of Parties “to urbanize the global climate agenda and subsequently to present this Charter to the World Mayors Council on Climate Change to consider appropriate implementation mechanisms.” The Charter includes a commitment to develop a robust, reportable and verifiable register.
Durban-born Kumi Naidoo, Executive Director of Greenpeace International, congratulated the Convention on the Charter and said: “It is one of the few practicable things that is going to come out of this entire COP.”
He urged more partnership between civil society and local government and on the issue of the $100 billion agreed in Cancun to support adaptation by 2020, he said it was not a lot to ask in a world where huge sums were being paid to bail out banks.
Rajendra Pachauri, Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), said: “international actions have not contributed at all to building resilience at local level” and he congratulated the Convention on producing the Charter as local governments were well-placed to take the lead on implementing low regrets measures for disaster risk reduction such as those outlined in the recent IPCC report.