“Welcome to the power and potential of local and regional governments from all continents. We are here to be part of the process from the first step onward. We are here to forge new coalitions, to act and collaborate for our climate and to encourage civil society, businesses and our peers in cities and regions to join the #Uniting4Climate movement.” These opening remarks made by Bonn’s Mayor Sridharan echoed the significance of COP23 in accelerating the vision of the Paris Agreement into more tangible, multilevel action.

The Paris Agreement’s central aim is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century below 2 degrees Celsius and pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius. It is an agreement that was negotiated by 196 parties and signed by 195 of them. This year, the COP23 conference focused on creating rules for implementing this agreement.

A key outcome of this COP was a social transition, seen in the adoption of the Gender Action Plan and the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform, which aim to promote gender equality while also exchanging best practices on climate change mitigation and adaptation actions. Discussions around coal were also in the spotlight. The launch of Beyond Coal in Europe and the Powering Past Coal Alliance are both promising efforts to accelerate clean growth and climate protection.

The focal point of these negotiations, however, was an urgency for pre-2020 action. A vision for the Talanoa Dialogue (formerly the ‘2018 Facilitative Dialogue’) was signed off, inviting local and regional governments, as well as non-party climate stakeholders, to provide input and enhance the ambition of the UNFCC. As a result, cities and regions will be well-positioned to advance the climate efforts of national governments. In 2018, the Talanoa Dialogue will give local and regional governments a unique opportunity to review current and projected actions, as well as identify opportunities to enhance climate action where feasible.

The Climate Summit of Local and Regional Leaders at COP23, organized by ICLEI on behalf of the Global Taskforce, also brought together the broadest coalition ever gathered around a UN Climate Change Conference. The Summit showcased local and regional climate leadership in the ICLEI Network. It was also the place where local and regional governments’ constituency provided inputs on the Paris Agreements’ rulebook, ensuring efforts by climate stakeholders were integrated and synergic. Both the Summit and the Bonn-Fiji Commitment made it clear that Paris targets can be achieved if urban development and the engagement of all levels of government become core components of their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

A final reassuring step was the announcement that ICLEI has become the first non-country associate member of the NDC Partnership. The NDC Partnership facilitates technical assistance, creates and distributes knowledge products to fill information gaps, and promotes enhanced financial support for the NDC implementation. This membership is a noteworthy sign that through partnerships and contributions from all levels of government, we can effectively tackle the climate challenge.

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