For Climate Action, Urban Finance: Stakeholders call for urgent action, more collaboration

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By: Gabriel Benjamin

From L – R: Eduardo Lopez Morena, Co-Director, World Urban Pavilion; Kamran Espili, Executive Director, UEF; Elisabeth Belpaire, Board Member and Congress Director, ISOCARP; The Honorable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario; Reza Pourvaziry, Chair of UEF; Mayor Amanda McDougall, Mayor of Cape Breton Regional Municipality; Amir HosseinKashfi, Co-Director of Global Platform on Urban Finance; Ilda Cordiro, Senior Program Manager, UEF; Eduardo Ortiz Jasso, Director of UEF-Latin America

The Urban Economy Forum (UEF) and the International Society of City and Regional Planners (ISOCARP), has during their joint UEF5 and WPC59 conference in Toronto, Canada called for urgent action on climate change and urban finance.

The conference which took place from 10 -13 October 2023 at Daniels Spectrum, Regent Park, World Urban Pavilion, Toronto, brought together city leaders, academia, governmental, non-governmental, and local organizations, parliamentarians and multi-level constituency representatives, entrepreneurs, civil society, financiers and planning professionals for a much-needed knowledge co-production on how to finance shared visions, policies, plans and designs for more climate-responsive and equitable places and communities in a rapidly and largely unplanned urbanizing world, struggling to meet the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Honorable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario explained that climate change is no longer academic but real issue demanding “creativity of the collective”.

“Only through collaborative efforts and innovative policies we can make a difference in combatting climate change. It is time to dream big and demand accountability.”

Maimunah Mohd Sharif, Executive Director UN-Habitat, in her address, said a sustainable environment is very crucial towards the actualization of SDGs 2030, and the only way to actualize this is to work together to bridge the gap.

“We possess the knowledge to redirect the climate crises…we must begin to translate awareness into action by using the 4-4 agenda to bridge the gap of low carbon through careful identification of expansive areas.”

Mitchell Cohen, Chief Executive Officer and President, The Daniels Corporation, while speaking on the road map to revitalization and the power of partnership, called for lower carbon footprints, involvement of local communities and strategic inclusive economy development.

“It is time to build connectivity with local communities… The importance of local voices had been driving the transformation of Regent Park. We can replicate this model in our cities.”

MP Matthew Green, Member of Parliament, National Democratic Party of Canada called on governments at all levels, public and private sector organizations to prioritize innovation and technology in the fight against climate change and urban finance. He noted that there is an integral connection between innovation, technology, climate change and the economy.

“To tackle these issues effectively, we must focus on creativity, innovation and technology.”

Reza Pourvaziry, Chair of UEF while giving his remark said: “We need long-lasting efforts to ensure long-lasting peace.”

Pietro Elisei, President of  ISOCARP called for an increase participation of stakeholders and the need to push for more financing for renewable energy.

“Creativity means knowledge… community have to take ownership of our call for a greener and better environment.”

Hon. Edmund Bartlett, Minister of Tourism for Jamaica said Jamaica is committed to building on the already established SDGs protocols in the restoration and rejuvenation of the environment structure, through innovative practice; noting that we have to make decision not for ourselves but for our future.

“We stand at the crossroads where our decisions today will affect our future tomorrow”.

Yusuf Amdani, Chairman of GK noted that: “Today is not only about celebrating our accomplishments but a call for action.”

Jay-Ann Gilfoy, Meridian Chief Executive Officer, urged financial institutions and government to go beyond making promises, and match promises with actions.

“I believe financial institutions need to be part of the solution -on sustainability… we can’t have great cities without great communities.”

Madina Junussova, General Co-rapporteur, called on the national and sub-national government to focus on existing infrastructure. Adding that action planning is what will take the world to its next stage.

“National government should stop all new development and start to reuse existing infrastructure.”

David Amborski, Professor, School of Urban and Regional Planning, Toronto Metropolitan University urge governments to live up to its responsibility.

“The role of government can play a big role in determining what they are implementing… They have to be up to their responsibilities.”

Stephanie Gawehendase Burnham, MSc, Cayuga Nation, Wolf Clan Dillon Consulting Limited, said the solution to climate action and urban finance should be localized. She urged stakeholders to develop a broader shift to climate action.

“Indigenous-led solutions are not about self-determination. It is about developing a broader shift to climate action.”

Earlier in his welcome address, the Prime Minister of Canada, The Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, extend his warmest greetings to everyone attending UEF5+WPC59, the 5th Annual UEF, held jointly with the 59th World Planning Congress of ISOCARP. He thanked the organizers for putting together an engaging and rewarding program.

“You can take pride in your efforts to advance the implementation of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals through multi-dimensional dialogue and international cooperation.”

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