World mayors congregated at the Copenhagen City Hall Tuesday to discuss challenges and opportunities of climate change for their cities.
From the West to East and from the developing to the developed countries, the civic leaders were unanimous in one thing- that they must rise to the occasion and address climate change.
Meeting at the Climate Summit for Mayors hosted by Copenhagen mayor Ritt Bjerregaard the mayors shared experiences on how they were striving to reduce green gas emissions.
São Paulo is pioneering in waste management, and Gilberto Kassab, Mayor of São Paulo, said: “It is a clear example of public policy that has produced gains in every sense, from the economic to the environmental, from political to social.”
Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb of Rotterdam said his city had a lot of experience dealing with water and was willing to share with others who might be interested while Mr. Godfried Huffnagel of The Hague challenged his colleagues to come up with sustainable solutions to the climate change challenges.
Ms. Asii Narup detailed the challenges facing her resource rich but under populated country. “Greenland has a lot of infrastructural challenges chief among them transportation. Because of the terrain only sea and air transport could be used there. Although the low population ensured less population, the vice was finding its way into the arctic thanks to the neighbouring countries.
Sydney’s Lord Mayor Clover Moore told the audience about their success with citizen engagement: “Our communities expect their political representatives to show real leadership and, when engaged, they will support and participate in bold action to tackle climate change.”
Teheran Mayor Mohamed Qalibaf said the city’s efforts to curb gas emission were bearing fruit. “We are trying to ban cars from the city centre and one of the ways of achieving this was to increase fuel prices by 400 percent and massive reduction in public transport fares,” he said.
Mr. Pierre Amondji of Abidjan said air pollution was the biggest problem in their city and that the civic authority was working with the central government to address the issue.
After the round table talks, the Lord Mayor of Copenhagen, said: "It's been a great pleasure to hear about the cities' high ambitions as well as the different solutions they are proposing, and I'm convinced that what we've learned here today will inspire all of us to act."
UN-HABITAT Executive Director Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka who moderated one of the discussions appealed to the mayors to establish city to city linkages. “As we address the issue of climate change we must also not forget the angle of food security and giving the citizens a voice,” she said.
She invited the mayors to attend the Fifth Session of World Urban Forum to be held next March in Rio de Janeiro and the World Expo in Shanghai opening in May saying the two meetings would provide the mayors with the best venue to exchange views on how best to run their cities.