Indian delegation highlights the important role of climate change initiatives at European Union International Urban Cooperation event in Brussels

Gandhinagar, 25 November 2019 – A 12 member Indian delegation consisting of senior state policy makers, city mayors, technocrats and academia participated in a meeting of over 200 representatives of local and regional governments from across the world in Brussels, Belgium at the International Urban Cooperation (IUC) program’s third annual City-to-City event. After years of exchange, cities and states have come together once more to take stock of the results of their pairings and of the crucial role inter-city cooperation plays in forging sustainable communities and addressing the climate change challenge.

The presence in Brussels was part of a weeklong visit in Europe, where the delegation had the opportunity to exchange views and best practices with the City of Milan, European Union Joint Research Center, and the University of Bocconi in Italy as well as to further cooperation opportunities with the European Commission’s Directorate General for Regional & Urban Policy and Directorate General for Environment.

 One component of the European Union-funded IUC program paired 12 Indian cities with 12 European cities, while in other component of program 15 Indian cities have signed the Global Covenant of Mayors (GCoM) to work for climate and clean energy action.

 “Combating climate change requires multipronged approach in which National Government can support and enable local action while local governments complement national efforts in the implementation of climate action and sustainable development,” said Syed Haider, Principal Secretary, Climate Change  Department, Government of Gujarat, India and Head of Indian delegation, while addressing as a panellist in a plenary session on ‘Implementing and financing local climate action’. He also narrated key challenges to implementation faced by cities and presented the key steps to move from planning to implementation. He furthered expressed solutions and business models that have been successfully utilized for local climate action and how can the private and public sector work together to secure  sustainable urban development at the local level.

While in other plenary session on ‘Sustainable urban development cooperation: from planning to action’, Yogender Singh, Director Urban Development and Local Self Government, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Government of India spoke about pairing experiences of 12 Indian cities. While citing pairing of Surat-Rotterdam, Nagpur-Karlsruhe, Udaipur-Aarhus he said what worked really well and what didn´t in knowledge transfer. He also talked about considerations a city should have when replicating approach of paired city.

“Achieving solutions to global challenges like climate change and inequality requires cooperation among all parts of the world, and for leaders from all levels to be ambitious. The IUC programme demonstrates   this. I am thrilled to see committed urban actors and leaders from Asia, North America, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Europe coming together today in Brussels to highlight the positive outcomes of cooperation,” said Lotte Knudsen, Managing Director of Human Rights, Global and Multilateral Issues, European External Action Service, in her keynote address.

 “Cooperation during last years has taught us that we have a lot of knowledge and experience to offer each other to turn global challenges into opportunities for innovation and urban transformation. It is there that words become action. This is thanks, first and foremost, to the multitude of sub-national actors engaging in the program, whether regional governments, large cities, small municipalities or local leaders. This event is another opportunity to take forward the fruitful exchanges,” said Rudolf Niessler, Principal advisor for International Relations, Directorate General for Regional Policy, European
Commission in his opening speech.

The IUC is one of the European Union’s key instruments in support of sustainable urban development,
implemented through city diplomacy and mutual learning. It contributes to achieving major international agreements, such as the Paris Agreement, New Urban Agenda, and UN Sustainable
Development Goals.

The event has also reflected on the impact of the Global Covenant of Mayors, one of the three core
components of the IUC. Speakers representing the European, national, regional, and municipal levels
emphasized inspiring examples from signatory cities, and addressed a unique challenge that has been
highlighted over the past years of cooperation: namely, how to access funding to accelerate local
climate action. Perspectives from the European Investment Bank, Covenant of Mayors National
Committee of Peru, State of Gujarat, India and signatory cities Bogor, Indonesia and Chicago, USA kick-
started the conversation. 

In addition to leaders of global cities, representatives from the European Commission’s Directorate-
General for Regional and Urban Policy, Directorate-General for Energy, Committee of the Regions, and
the European External Action Service addressed attendees. Breakout sessions allowed cities to dive
more deeply into areas that they are focusing on through their pairings, such as clean energy transition, participatory approaches to smart cities, circular economy, nature-based solution and mobility and air quality.

This event not only took stock of the progress already made through inter-city cooperation, but also
brought multi-level stakeholders from different countries and contexts together to catalyse further
action, and ensured that the future of inter-city cooperation is as productive and impactful as possible.
Indian delegation also included Lochan Sehra, Secretary, Urban Development, Government of Gujarat
and mayors and elected representatives from cities of Kochi, Gangtok, Bhavnagar and Jamnagar.