A New Year’s Message from ICLEI President Mayor Frank Cownie

My Esteemed Colleagues –

At the start of 2023, it’s a perfect time to reflect on our work from the past year. I’m always proud of ICLEI’s accomplishments, but this year feels like we’ve found our stride and are moving full steam ahead.

Perhaps the best punctuation to this year’s achievements was our successful attendance at COP27 in November. I, along with many other ICLEI delegates, had the pleasure of connecting with individuals from around the world to discuss the critical role local governments play in the fight against climate change. Our Multilevel Action Pavilion highlighted the need for all levels and agents of government to come together, working to stop climate change and its rapid progression.

The Biodiversity COP15 also brought about historic outcomes with ambitious goals for species protection, targets to achieve 30 x 30 land and water conservation, and support for equity and Indigenous leadership. Our 7th Summit for Subnational Governments and Cities at the nature COP saw record attendance, with more than 1,500 delegates, and for the first time at a nature COP, we hosted a dedicated pavilion for our constituency. By the end of our time in Montreal, nations had agreed to work with local governments to implement the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework — demonstrating the significant recognition and acknowledgment of the critical role of cities and regions in achieving the global biodiversity targets.

We’ve got the momentum. It’s time to use this power to launch ourselves into implementation.

For all of us working to mitigate the climate and biodiversity crises, we know how much difference a year can make. Action or inaction at this critical point in global history will cause us to look back in another 365 days and think about what we did or should’ve done. As Global President of this organization, I’m confident in saying we continued movement forward, developing ideas and creating partnerships to reduce the impacts of climate change and having the right conversations.

Over the next 12 months, let’s move toward action and implement the solutions we’ve identified. I know we’re in good hands with ICLEI and our partners—and that this wish is entirely possible.

With my deepest gratitude and warm wishes for the New Year,

T.M. Franklin Cownie
ICLEI Global President
Mayor, Des Moines, IA USA