By Aris Moro
In early December, mayors, city delegates and urban experts met in Mexico City for the sixth biennial C40 Mayors’ Summit. The summit emphasised the key role cities play in global low-carbon, resilient, and inclusive development. Providing our cities with adequate access to financing is one of the most pressing issues that need to be addressed.
One year after the signing of the Paris Agreement, mayors and city delegates met in Mexico City for the sixth biennial C40 Mayors’ Summit. The three-day event, hosted by the Mayor of Mexico City Miguel Ángel Mancera, was attended by representatives from over 90 cities and hundreds of experts in urban sustainability. The Summit highlighted how the world’s megacities are creating a template for the global economy, by developing in a low-carbon, resilient, and inclusive manner.
Participants discussed the critical barriers hindering sustainable urban development and how megacities are overcoming them. One of the most significant barriers is the insufficient access to finance for infrastructure projects in cities, particularly for innovative projects addressing climate change. Research from the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40) shows that only 1 in 5 C40 cities are able to borrow from the state, and only 1 in 4 are able to issue municipal bonds. To make matters worse, it is often the cities that are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change that lack access to finance for the very projects that would reduce their vulnerability. This issue is critical and urgent, as an estimated US$4 trillion per year in infrastructure investment is required in developing countries, especially in its cities, to leapfrog the fossil fuel-driven economic development of the past.
New initiatives such as the C40 Cities Finance Facility (CFF) are bridging the gap between cities and finance. Funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and supported by the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), the CFF is a partnership between GIZ and C40 aiming to facilitate access to finance for climate change mitigation and resilience projects in cities, through project preparation, capacity development, knowledge sharing and partnerships. In its first twelve months, the CFF has welcomed new partners, and began its operations in Bogotá and Mexico City. The CFF recently celebrated its first anniversary with an engaging session at the C40 Mayors’ Summit, including contributions from senior representatives of GIZ and USAID, and from the Mayors of Amman, Mexico City, and Rio de Janeiro. Martha Gutierrez from GIZ and Agnes Dasewicz of USAID restated the value and uniqueness of the CFF, and shared their hopes and expectations for its activities in 2017 and beyond.
The CFF featured prominently throughout the Summit, and mayors, city delegates and representatives from international organisations highlighted its important present and future role. The Summit also included a number of other major announcements, including a commitment by four cities to ban diesel vehicles by 2025 and a pledge by U.S. mayors to renew their efforts on climate change regardless of political changes at the national level. Finally, the 4th annual C40 Awards took place, recognising the efforts of 11 cities on climate change: Shenzhen, China, won the C40 Award in Finance and Economic Development for its Emissions Trading System, beating competition from Toronto, Canada, and Canberra, Australia.