ICCA2019: Using the potential of cities for ambitious climate action

ICCA2019 has sent a strong signal to the world: it is possible to implement ambitious climate action and comply with the goals of the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Climate-proof and sustainable cities are key to achieving this. Their potential must be unlocked through collaboration between all levels of government.

The International Conference on Climate Action – ICCA2019 convened in Heidelberg on 22 and 23 May 2019. It was hosted by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety together with the Federal State of Baden-Württemberg and the City of Heidelberg. During the conference, more than 1,000 participants from 80 countries held intense discussions about collaborative climate action.

The ambitious programme highlighted necessary levers for tailored climate adaptation and protection and focused on financing and governance at local level. Conference attendees were offered the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of plenary sessions, interactive workshops and sector-themed sessions on, among others, mobility, planning and building, energy transition, and production and consumption.

© BMU/ Sascha Hilgers

In addition to the main conference programme, conference goers were invited to join Climate Neighbourhoods (CN). CN’s interactive programme in the heart of Heidelberg’s historic district provided a platform for exchange between local authorities, civil society and businesses that actively foster climate mitigation and adaptation measures. Participatory elements allowed the public to contribute with their perspectives on climate action. Young people especially were invited to participate with creative ideas and innovative suggestions. The Youth Climate Summit in advance of CN provided them with their own platform.

A significant outcome of ICCA2019 is the Partnership Declaration on Collaborative Climate Action. In the declaration, states, cities, municipalities, federal states, regions and networks commit to more cooperation, communication and support in the implementation of the Paris Agreement and the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and set out priority actions to achieve this. The declaration was adopted during the high-level round table by representatives of all three levels of government and their networks.

© BMU/ Sascha Hilgers

The success of ICCA2019 has also manifested itself in the Heidelberg Outcomes. This compilation of practical recommendations outlines forms of collaboration for more ambitious climate action and sustainable development, e.g. the removal of obstacles to financing local projects or citizen participation in implementing municipal climate action programmes. Furthermore, work was carried out on initiatives which will enable cities and municipalities to take ambitious climate action and promote the development of sustainable infrastructures.

Above all, it became clear how crucial it is to have the right framework conditions that allow cities and municipalities to exercise their roles as players in climate action and sustainable development. These framework conditions range from expertise on financial resources through to regulations. The conference participants all agreed that these conditions needed to be improved quickly.

A detailed summary of the conference can be read in the IISD report.