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Highlights of the Urban Low Emission Development Strategies (LEDS) 2nd International Networking Seminar

From 05- 07 May 2015, Urban-LEDS project cities from Indonesia, Brazil, India, South Africa and Europe, gathered in host Bogor City, Indonesia for the 2nd Urban-LEDS International Networking Seminar (INS). High-ranking national and subnational government officials and technical experts spanning seven countries, along with ICLEI and UN-Habitat staff, engaged in South-South-North learning and exchange to accelerate the transition of low emission development at the local level.

Leaders unite for Urban Low Emission Development

The 2nd Urban-LEDS International Networking Seminar (INS) welcomed over 60 participants – including senior local government representatives of 37 Urban-LEDS project cities in Brazil, India, Indonesia, South Africa, and Europe – to meet, learn and exchange with each other among ICLEI and UN-Habitat staff. Of these cities, 12 Urban-LEDS Cities constitute more than 20% of cities that expressed their intent to comply with the Compact of Mayors as leaders in support of transparent approaches to reducing city-level emissions.

Following the 1st International Networking Seminar held in Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa in 2013, and the Urban-LEDS European Study Tour in the host cities of Almada, Portugal, Copenhagen, Denmark and Hannover, Germany in 2014, the 2nd Urban-LEDS INS event marked the third unique opportunity in the Urban-LEDS cities’ journeys to reconvene and share achievements, map priorities and identify solutions, tools and strategies to scale up low emissions development.  

Key issues explored throughout the three-day event ranged from effective strategic planning and stakeholder engagement; embedding measurable, reportable and verifiable (MRV) climate action processes into Low Emission Development (LED) and showing leadership through the Compact of Mayors; access to finance through programs such as the Transformative Actions Program (TAP); and how Urban-LEDS cities may contribute to raising the global climate ambition in the run up to the COP 21/CMP11 in Paris, France and beyond.

Adding to the highlights, the Mayor of Bogor City, Bima Arya, announced preparations to convene a national event to mobilize cities for the Compact of Mayors, and participation in the UNFCCC Bonn Climate Change Conference, June 2015 in Bonn, Germany.

Mayor Bima declared, “The City of Bogor is committed to reducing GHG emissions”, and shared his commitment to transform the city into a hub of low emission public transportation options, including a Bus Rapid Transit System, and new bicycle and pedestrian paths.

The Urban-LEDS Delegation also held a high level dialogue with Rachmat Witoelar, Presidential Special Envoy for Climate Change, (Former) Executive Chair of the National Council on Climate Change (DNPI), for the Republic of Indonesia. The core discussions focused on the engagement of local governments to ensure a sustainable Indonesian urban development strategy towards 2019 and 2045, and active engagement in the Indonesian Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) process, and strengthening advocacy towards Paris.

Additional INS highlights included the presence of Vice-Mayor of Bogor, Usmar Hariman, Zaenal Arifin, Deputy Director of Urban Affairs, Ministry of National Development Planning/BAPPENAS, Republic of Indonesia, and Farhan Helmy, Chairman, Project Advisory Group, of Urban-LEDS Indonesia, who spoke of the importance of vertically integrating local-level LEDS into national level.

Speakers such as Robert Kehew, Leader, Climate Change Planning Unit, Emani Kumar, ICLEI World Secretariat Deputy Secretary General and Regional Director of the ICLEI South Asia Secretariat, provided valuable input and insights into the manifold benefits and processes to successfully mainstream low emission development into statutory plans and paths to access finance by the Urban-LEDS cities at the local, regional, national and international level. 

All eight model cities presented their annual achievements, from Bogor, Indonesia’s approach to identifying low emission development priorities in transport, to KwaDukuza, South Africa with its strategy to embed LED into economic development. The Mayor of Rajkot, Rakshaben Raghubhai Boliya, who recently announced a commitment join the UNEP-led District Energy in Cities Initiative, a Sustainable Energy for All District Energy Accelerator, spoke to the value of city-to-city learning, which has supported Rajkot, India’s activities to develop and mainstream Urban-LEDS in the planning process.

Urban-LEDS leadership continued with Satellite Cities’ ambitious LED activities ranging from UMhlathuze, South Africa’s approach to stimulating local renewable energy projects with the private sector, in Brazil Sorocaba's development of a city LED Action Plan and Climate Policy and in Indonesia, Bontang's steps towards low carbon MRV solutions.

Throughout the INS participants explored Urban-LEDS resources and tools to support their LEDS such as the GreenClimateCities (GCC) methodology, the Solutions Gateway, the Pool of Experts and the carbonn Climate Registry in interactive ways.

Discussions surrounding guidance and tools were enhanced by interactive peer exchange, where participants deepened their knowledge of partner cities’ inspiring success LED stories, through activities such as the “Market Place” and “World Cafe”, and LED site visits support one another’s capacity development to tackle implementation challenges and low-emission development needs.

As Carlos Maricio da Fonseca Guerra, the Executive Secretary, Secretariat of Environment and Sustainability of Recife stated, “Implementing Urban-LEDS allows us to produce robust results which positively impact our local communities- and to highlight these successes- no matter how large or how small."

The Urban-LEDS project, jointly implemented by ICLEI and UN-Habitat and funded by the European Commission, began in 2012, when 37 Cities were selected, including Bogor, Balikpapan, Bogor Regency, Tangerang Seletan, Bontang and Tarkan (Indonesia); Steve Tshwete, KwaDukuza, uMhlathuze, Nelson Mandela Bay, Sol Plaatje Municipality, Saldanha Bay Municipality, Mogale City Local Municipality (South Africa); Fortaleza, Recife, Betim, Belo Horizonte, Porto Alegre, Rio de Janeiro, Sorocaba, Recife (Brazil); Rajkot, Thane, Panaji, Gwalior, Pimpri-Chinchwad, Shimla, Nagpur, Coimbatore (India) and Almada (Portugal), Helsinki (Finland), Bologna (Italy), Zagreb (Croatia), Hannover (Germany), Copenhagen (Denmark), Gaziantep (Turkey) and Warsaw (Poland) from Europe.