FCC Deputy Mayor joins climate leaders in Brazil for U20 Mayors’ Summit

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Last week, Deputy Mayor of Freetown, Kweku Melvin Lisk Esq, joined representatives from over 30 cities in São Paulo, Brazil for the Urban 20 (U20) 2024 Mayors’ Summit. 

The summit is hosted by São Paulo, co-chaired by São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, and co-convened by C40 Cities and United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG).

The U20 exists to ensure meetings of the G20 economic group of nations are informed by the urban priorities of its biggest cities: Complex urban challenges demand joint action from different spheres of government. This summit aligns with FCC’s Transform Freetown – Transforming Lives 2024-2028 Development roadmap as it relates to the plan’s critical pathways including but not limited to, investment in afforestation, green energy, blue economy, heat migration and clean air and, city regeneration and green urban mobility.

Over the period of two days, mayors, deputy mayors and city representatives shared insights on specific proposals to the G20 to empower cities to deliver on key priorities, from working with cities to increase the ambition and fairness of national climate plans that all countries must update ahead of COP30 in Belem next year, to new guarantee funds to unlock much needed urban finance.

Mayor of São Paulo, Ricardo Nunes, shared inspiring examples of city leadership that shows how addressing climate breakdown, social inclusion and hunger go hand in hand, such as the city’s programme to distribute over two million plant-based meals to residents daily.

Mayors were joined by Ambassador Antonio da Costa, representing Brazil’s Ministry of Cities, and the G20 Brazil Sous-Sherpa, Felipe Reis. The U20 Co-Chairs delivered statements for the G20 to consider ahead of its summit in Rio de Janeiro in November 2024, covering measures to increase social inclusion, fight against hunger and poverty, deliver a just transition, reform global governance, and unlock finance for urban sustainable development. The statements will be delivered directly to the G20 Sherpa on 4 July.

Also in attendance was Kevin Austin, Deputy Executive Director of C40 Cities, who said cities don’t just act on climate, they take action at scale and they take action quickly from the new public park the size of Paris in São Paulo, preserving this as permanent green space for city residents, to the new solar plant in Rio that will be located in a deactivated landfill and supply energy to 45 schools.

By working with cities, he said, G20 countries can turn the noble goals and words of global agreements into action; action that can benefit people not years from now but months.  Fast action is essential – the world is on the brink of climate tipping points that, if exceeded, will only exacerbate poverty, inequality and conflict. The proposals of the U20 summit are a beacon of hope as cities lead the charge towards a more sustainable and equitable world.

For Mayor of Rio de Janeiro, Eduardo Paes, it is crucial to bear in mind that the primary actions to address climate change are carried out in cities, which serve as key drivers of economic growth, accounting for over 80% of the global GDP. It is imperative to establish mechanisms within global governance that secure their direct access to international financing through public, private, and multilateral sources. The G20 represents a unique opportunity to demonstrate to the world’s foremost leaders the vital importance of global financial reform.

Ahmedabad, Abidjan, Buenos Aires, Dakar, Johannesburg, Freetown, Montrèal, and Seoul, were among the mayors, deputy mayors and city representatives who added global context to the discussions and outlined how cities can work together to address the world’s key challenges.

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