IUC regional event in Japan goes digital


IUC cities from each of the programme's regions – Asia, India, Japan, Latin America and the Caribbean, and North America – have come together in regional meetings, which convene the participants of each region alongside European Commission representatives, experts, and a selection of the cities' European IUC peer cities. Given the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the regional events in India and Japan could not be held in-person, and had to be postponed. This challenge did not, however, hamper the IUC's ability to foster productive exchange. Rather, over the past two weeks, the IUC Coordination Unit and IUC Japan co-hosted a highly productive online Japanese Regional Meeting.

The meeting kicked off on 29 October with a session focused on the programme's second component: the Global Covenant of Mayors (GCoM). This session, which was hosted in collaboration with the GCoM and the Covenant of Mayors Japan, explored how to drive forward ambitious local climate action.

The session provided a platform for Japanese GCoM signatories to discuss successful measures and plans they have used to drive action, as well as present challenges they faced along the way. Discussion was kicked off with presentations from the Japanese cities of Tokorozawa and Toyohashi, who shared their climate action success stories, pointing to the added-value of being part of the Covenant of Mayors for them. The team from the GCoM then carried-out consultation on how to best adapt the initiative's Common Reporting Framework to the Japanese context to meet their needs. Consultation featured breakout room discussions on climate change mitigation and adaptation, including deep dives into the Japanese context with respect to setting and monitoring progress toward climate targets, conducting climate risk and vulnerability assessments, and implementing climate action plans.

The IUC Japan regional meeting continued this week with sessions focused on IUC component one: city-to-city pairings. Two interactive sessions engaged cities to share knowledge across borders on driving the transition to a more sustainable future. On 10 November, IUC cities from Japan, Europe and beyond came together to discuss energy transition, while the discussion on 12 November focused on circular economy.

Between the two sessions, participants heard presentations from the cities of Bratislava (Slovakia), Essen (Germany), Grenoble-Alpes Metropole (France), Guelph (Canada), Kochi (India), Turku (Finland), and Koriyama, Nagano, Obuse, Tokorozawa and Toyota (Japan). Their presentations over the two days set the scene for interactive discussions that followed, which engaged all cities in attendance. Skilful moderation ensured that all participating cities were able to ask their questions, share their experiences, and compare notes on the successes and challenges they have faced in driving forward energy transition and circular economy.

Each session that formed part of the Japanese Regional Meeting was opened with contributions from the European Commission. Eero Ailio, Directorate-General (DG) for Energy; Manuel Carmona-Yebra, DG for Climate Action; and Ramón López, DG for Regional and Urban Policy each presented the European Commission's work in these critical fields, expanding upon, for example, the European Green Deal and the New Circular Economy Action Plan.

This dialogue between European Commission representatives and local governments made one thing clear: Europe understands how valuable local-level initiatives are to meeting global climate goals. Mr. Carmona-Yebra expressed one example of the crucial nature of local projects during the session on cities' experiences forging circular economies, stating, "We have seen that clearly, clearly circular economy is indispensable for climate neutrality!"