Harbinger Consultants

Culture + Complexity + Change

GLOBAL | Cities signing up

I spent a bit of time this week looking at how Australian cities and local authorities engage with international networks and agreements progressing sustainable development and climate change response in cities and regions. I identified five major networks, being C40, Compact of Mayors, ICLEI, United Cities and Local Government (UCLG), and UN Global Compact Cities Program. These are the networks that I read most about and try to stay in touch with by following their social media feeds and the like.

Mostly, I was interested in knowing whether Brisbane, as the third most populous city and largest local government in Australia, was involved in any of these initiatives. Participation in such programs sends signals to the rest of the world and plays a role in building relationships, committing to shared targets and goals, and facilitating exchanges. It also positions the local authority in relation to major issues facing cities and regions. Through a search of the websites of these organisations, I found that Brisbane is not party to any them.

By comparison, other capitals, with the exception of Darwin, are involved:

Melbourne: C40; Compact of Mayors; Global Compact Cities Program; ICLEI
Sydney: C40; Compact of Mayors; ICLEI
Adelaide: Compact of Mayors; ICLEI
Perth: Compact of Mayors;
Canberra/ACT: Compact of Mayors; ICLEI
Hobart: Compact of Mayors

As well, numerous smaller Australian local authorities, including those within urban regions, are participating in ICLEI and the Compact of Mayors. There are some caveats. First, the Australian Local Government Association is a member or participant in some of these networks, including UCLG and ICLEI. Second, there is an Oceania branch of ICLEI. Third, Brisbane hosts an Asia Pacific Cities Summit and Mayors’ Forum, which includes being party to a Mayors’ Accord. Additionally, because Brisbane is not part of the Compact of Mayors (London just signed up), it is not part of Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy.

About the programs (sourced from websites)

C40 is a network of the world’s megacities committed to addressing climate change. C40 supports cities to collaborate effectively, share knowledge and drive meaningful, measurable and sustainable action on climate change.

The Compact of Mayors was launched by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and his Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change, Michael R. Bloomberg, under the leadership of the world’s global city networks – C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40), ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI) and the United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) – with support from UN-Habitat, the UN’s lead agency on urban issues. The Compact establishes a common platform to capture the impact of cities’ collective actions through standardized measurement of emissions and climate risk, and consistent, public reporting of their efforts.

UN Global Compact Cities Program is the urban arm of the United Nations Global Compact – city and regional governments collaborating with the private sector and civil society – addressing complex global challenges on the local level

ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability is the leading global network of more than 1,500 cities, towns and regions committed to building a sustainable future.

United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) represents and defends the interests of local governments on the world stage, regardless of the size of the communities they serve.

Postscript: Since writing this, I also learned about the Global Parliament of Mayors. As of September 2016, only Melbourne was a member. According to their website, the Global Parliament of Mayors will endeavor to concentrate the pragmatic problem-solving capacities of global cities that neither the United Nations nor individual nation states have been able to address effectively. Led by engaged mayors who know inaction is not an option, the GPM will become a new governance platform for solving the problems that threaten the security, sustainability and freedom of the 21st century world.


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