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ICLEI’s Takeways from the UN Climate Action and SDG Summits 2019

Last update October 03, 2019

On September 23, 2019, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, will host the Climate Action Summit in New York with the objective of boosting ambition and rapidly accelerating action to implement the Paris Agreement. The Summit will take place during the UN General Assembly where other complementary events like the Climate Week NYC (23-29 September), Youth Summit (21 September), Launch of the Coalition for Urban Transitions (CUT) Global Report (22 September), High-Level Political Forum and SDG Summit (24-25 September), Bloomberg Global Business Forum (25 September), High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development (26 September) will take place.

ICLEI’s Top 5 Takeaways

For ICLEI’s take on how the UN Climate and SDG Summits will shape the coming decade of urban resilience and sustainability, read A Tale of Two Summits.

Watch Live!

Watch live webcasts at and expand the dropdown for recordings.

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Science for 1.5-degree Cities, UCCRN, Columbia Earth Institute and ICLEI research agenda event

Local Governments Track Climate Action Day with ICLEI Secretary General, Gino Van Begin

Official Cities Track Event with ICLEI President and Mayor of Bonn, Ashok Sridharan setting the scene

Nature Based Solutions for Cities Press Conference with ICLEI Secretary General, Gino Van Begin

Launch of Climate Emergency, Urban Opportunity report

UN Climate Action Summit Opening Session with Montreal Mayor and ICLEI Global Ambassador on Biodiversity Valerie Plante

Cities Track Press Conference with President of Costa Rica, BMU Minister, and Barcelona Mayor



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UN Climate Action Summit

Weekend Agenda of Coalitions

SDG Summit

2nd Local and Regional Governments Forum

ICLEI Background

ICLEI Curtain Raiser Blog – A Tale of Two Summits

20 September Global Climate Strike

How ICLEI and City of Bonn is engaged

ICLEI webinar – Towards COP25


Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy

Climate Emergency, Urban Opportunity – CUT Flagship Report



As Local Governments focal organization to the UNFCCC and a leading voice of cities and climate action, ICLEI will bring a delegation of local leadership to the Climate Summit and represent the local authorities constituency during key events below. U.S. cities seeking information on how you can be involved, email

ICLEI Leadership and Senior Staff

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  1. Ashok Sridharan, Mayor, Bonn, Germany; ICLEI President
  2. Manuel Araujo, Mayor, Quelimane, Mozambique; ICLEI Global Executive Committee Member; Vice Chair of ICLEI Africa
  3. Valerie Plante, Mayor, Montreal, Canada; ICLEI Global Ambassador for Local Biodiversity
  4. Bill Peduto, Mayor, Pittsburgh, USA; ICLEI USA Board Member
  5. Peter Kurz, Mayor, Mannheim, Germany; Host of 2020 European Sustainable Cities and Towns Congress
  6. Lisa Helps, Mayor, Victoria, Canada; ICLEI Victoria Office host
  7. Pam O´Connor, Former Councillor, Santa Monica, USA; ICLEI USA Board Member
  8. Dan Stiles, ICLEI USA Board Member
  9. Mauricio Rodas, Former Mayor, Quito, Ecuador; 2015-2019 ICLEI Global Executive Committee Member
  10. Gino Van Begin, ICLEI Secretary General
  11. Angie Fyfe, ICLEI USA Executive Director
  12. Yunus Arikan, ICLEI Director of Global Advocacy
  13. Maryke van Staden, ICLEI Manager of Low Emissions Development Pathway
  14. Giorgia Rambelli, ICLEI Europe Senior Policy Officer
  15. Kale Roberts, ICLEI US Senior Policy Officer


ICLEI Members and Leaders (listed in alphabetical order by name of ICLEI Member)

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  1. Accra, Ghana – Mohammed Adjei Sowah, Mayor
  2. Barcelona, Spain – Ada Colau, Mayor
  3. Copenhagen, Denmark – Frank Jensen, Mayor
  4. Helsinki, Finland – Jan Vapaavuori, Mayor
  5. Jalisco, Mexico – Sergio Montero, Environment Secretary
  6. La Paz, Bolivia – Luis Revilla, Mayor
  7. Lisbon, Portugal – Fernando Medina, Mayor
  8. Macapa, Brazil – Clecio Luis, Mayor
  9. Manaus, Brazil – Arthur Neto, Mayor
  10. Nakuru County, Kenya – Lee Kinyanju, Governor
  11. New Heaven, USA – Latha Swamy, Director
  12. New York City, USA – Dan Zarilli, Director
  13. Orlando, USA – Christopher Castro, Director
  14. Pernambuco, Brazil – Paulo Camara, Governor
  15. Santa Fe, Argentina – Emilie Jaton
  16. Strasbourg, France – Roland Ries, Mayor
  17. Surabaya, Indonesia – Tri Rismaharini, Mayor
  18. Tirana, Albania – Erion Veliaj, Mayor
  19. Turku, Finland – Minna Arve, Mayor
  20. Yokohoma, Japan – Eriko Yakushiji, Director



Friday, September 20, 2019

Global Climate Strike Day

Saturday, September 21, 2019

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10:00am – 11:300pm     Youth Town Hall

11:30am – 1:00pm     Science for Cities: Actions towards 1.5°C from a Global Network of Scientists, Practitioners, and Decision-Makers

Organizers: Urban Climate Change Research Network, ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability, and Columbia Earth Institute with support from Second Nature
Location: Conference Room 12, United Nations Headquarters, NYC
ICLEI members: Maryke Van Staden, Manager of ICLEI’s Low Carbon City Agenda and Director of the carbonn Center; Lisa Helps, Mayor of Victoria, British Columbia; Mauricio Rodas, Former Mayor of Quito, Ecuador; Member of ICLEI Global Executive Committee; Minna Arve, Mayor of Turku, Finland; Daniel Zarrilli, Chief Climate Policy Advisor and OneNYC Director, NYC Office of the Mayor
Decription: There is now a unanimous consensus that cities are on the front lines of the battle against climate change impacts. Not only are they disproportionately located in areas that are highly exposed to a variety of disturbances such as coasts and rivers, they also contain large populations of vulnerable people. Enhancing the resilience of urban areas requires action and all of these critically depend on insights from climate science. Understanding the expected and uncertain impacts of climate change on urban centers and deploying effective measures to reduce exposure and vulnerability requires effective collaboration between scientists, practitioners and policy makers. UCCRN and ICLEI will convene this interactive Side Event at the UN Secretary General’s Climate Action Summit with global urban climate researchers and leaders, to analyze the opportunities and challenges of deploying climate science to influence decision-making on adaptation and resilience in urban centers.

2:00pm – 3:00pm Press Conference: Nature-based Solutions in Cities

Organizer: Executive Office of the UN Secretary General
ICLEI representation: Gino Van Begin, ICLEI Secretary General
Description: Addressing the growing role that nature-based solutions can play to further enhance climate action in cities, particularly in the lead up to 2020 and supporting governments achieve carbon-neutrality by 2050

3:00pm – 4:00pm      Local Leadership for Climate: Solutions to the Climate Emergency

Organizers: Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy
Location: UN Headquarters
ICLEI members: Lisa Helps, Mayor of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Description: This session will bring mayors and local leaders together with ministers and national government representatives, and will highlight subnational mobilization, progress and action and discuss areas for alignment, collaboration and investment to accelerate and support ambitious climate action.  Participating cities include: Chefchaouen, Victoria, Tirana, Port Moresby, Manaus, Al Hoceima, Montpellier

4:00pm – 5:00pm       Nature-based Solutions Enhancing Local government Climate Action

Organizers: UN Secretary General’s Office with Local Action Track partners coordinated by Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy
ICLEI representation: Gino Van Begin, ICLEI Secretary General
Location: UN Headquarters
Format: Moderated panel discussion with local leaders, international experts, civil society representatives: Highlight opportunities of how NBS can support cities to further strengthen resilience and increase emission reductions/removal; Identify tools, areas of collaborative action, key opportunities and milestones in lead up to 2020 for local government governments to enhance ambition; Discuss initiatives to help cities act on opportunities and potential commitments at local government levels.

5:00pm – 600pm        Financing Local government Climate Ambition

Organizers: UN Secretary General’s Office with Local Action Track partners coordinated by Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy
Location: UN Headquarters
Format: Moderated panel discussion with local leaders and national government representatives to: Uncover the greatest challenges for cities financing climate planning and projects Explore successful case studies on vertically integrated local climate finance Identify potential solutions to fill the largest gaps in funding climate action.


Sunday, September 22, 2019

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The events listed for Sunday, September 22 in UN Headquarters are by invitation only, segments of the Local Action Track “Partnerships for Ambition: Unlocking the Full Potential of Local Climate Action

10:00 – 10:20: Setting the scene: the critical role of cities to ensure a sustainable future

Oganizers: UN Secretary General’s Office with Local Action Track partners coordinated by Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy Description: Cities are home to more than 50% of the world’s population and are the site of most of its built assets and 75 % of its economic activity. They are powerhouses of national economies, accounting for around 80% of global economic activity, and by 2050, the population in urban areas is expected to comprise two thirds of the world population as 70 million people will move to urban areas every year for the next 30 years. In this context, there is a unanimous consensus that cities are on the front lines of the battle against climate. Achieving carbon free and resilient cities will be critical to help avert climate catastrophe. Transitioning to zero carbon cities will also be key to meet the 2030 agenda as this dynamic has the potential to fuel economic development while reducing poverty and inequality.

10:20 – 11:00: Partnerships for Ambition: Unlocking the Full Potential of Local Climate Action

Organizers: Infrastructure Cities and Local Action (ICLA) coalition
ICLEI members: Ashok Sridharan, ICLEI President and Mayor of Bonn, Germany; José Manuel Corral, Mayor of Santa Fe, Argentina; Fernando Medina Maciel Almeida Correia, Mayor of Lisbon, Portugal; Manuel de Araújo, Mayor of Quelimane, Mozambique
Description: This event aims to reinforce the message that climate action at the local level by all stakeholders is critical both for climate and development, including carbon neutral and resilient cities will mean better livelihoods and new opportunities for billions of people while adverting climate catastrophe. Participating cities include: Bonn, Santa Fe, Lisbon, Quelimane.

11:10 – 11:40: Advancing Buildings and Sustainable Urban Infrastructure

Description: The anticipated growth in urban population will require extensive (re)construction of buildings and infrastructure, especially in the global south. Because cities represent the majority of current and future building stock, there is a pressing need to ensure that the urban investments that will happen through to the middle of this century – and which will determine climate outcomes potential over centuries – are overwhelmingly net zero carbon and climate resilient.

11:40 – 12:10: Revolutionizing mobility to drive our zero-emission future

ICLEI Members:
Ashok Sridharan, ICLEI President and Mayor of Bonn, Germany; Manuel A. Alculete Lopes de Araújo, Mayor of Quelimane, Mozambique; Minna Arve, Mayor of Turku, Finland
Description: Transport is responsible for 28% of energy related GHG emissions. If we continue with business as usual scenarios, emissions will double by 2050. The challenge therefore is daunting: catering to the fast-growing demand for mobility and transport, as a means towards equal access to socio-economic opportunities, while slashing GHG emissions and increasing climate resilience. There is still time to act, but it will require an unprecedented effort from all.

12:10 – 12:40: Designing inclusive cities leaving no one behind

When handled properly, urbanization has the potential to create opportunities for a better life, provide a pathway out of poverty and act as an engine of inclusive economic growth. But while urbanization is moving the global economy forward, rising inequality and exclusion within cities can derail development progress. More than 880 million people live in slums in the developing world, and those numbers are growing. A large portion of these populations, representing around 600 million persons, are highly vulnerable to climate-related impacts such as river flooding, coastal inundation, landslides and others.

12:40 – 1:00pm The way ahead: putting urban transition at the heart of national and international priorities

Session details coming soon

6:00pm – 8:00pm: Mayors4Climate Reception

Organizer: Global Covenant of Mayros for Climate & Energy

2:00pm – 3:30pm       Climate Emergency, Urban Opportunity: Launch of the Coalition for Urban Transitions’ 2019 Global Report
Event by invitation only. Contact

Organizers: New Climate Economy, with support from ICLEI-Local Governments from Sustainability
ICLEI Representation: Ashok Sridharan, ICLEI President and Mayor of Bonn, Germany
Description: This event will bring together national and local government leaders, global thought leaders and distinguished academics, senior representatives from the UN, key partners in the urban and climate community, engaged finance and other sector leaders. Climate Emergency, Urban Opportunity, a report from the Coalition for Urban Transitions builds on three years of research with over 50 institutions, including ICLEI. The report is a call to action for national governments to prioritize cities — an opportunity worth $24 trillion by 2050.


Monday, September 23, 2019

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10:00am – 6:00pm     United Nations Secretary General Global Climate Action Summit

Agenda within UN Headquarters, TBD

2:00pm  – 3:30pm        Preparing for Disasters: Urban Climate Resilience in Action

Organizers: International Urban Cooperation programme, the European Commission and the Global Covenant of Mayors
Location: European Delegation to the United Nations, 666 Third Ave, New York, NY 10017, USA
ICLEI members: Heather Roiter, Executive Director of Hazard Mitigation and Recovery at NYC Emergency Management, City of New York; Christopher Castro, Director of Sustainability and Resilience, City of Orlando
Description: Urban areas – and especially their marginalized and vulnerable inhabitants – are particularly at risk. This makes managing the risks of disasters both crucially important, as well as complex. It is at the local level that disaster risk management, climate change, and sustainable development come together and can have concrete benefits on people’s lives. Cities and municipalities are the testing grounds for innovative solutions on how to prepare for, deal with, and recover from disasters. Many proven solutions already exist to enhance the resilience of local communities, ecosystems and assets. And, cumulatively, these contribute to sustainable urban development worldwide.

4:00pm – 6:00pm Inclusive Climate Action: How Cities Lead the Way [New York City Mayor’s Office welcome to local leadership]
By invitation only. Contact

NYC Mayor’s Office of Resilience
ICLEI Members: Bill Peduto, ICLEI USA Board Director and Mayor of Pittsburgh, Pennyslvania, USA; Christopher Castro, Director of Sustsainability and Resilience, City of Orlando, Florida, USA; Angie Fyfe, ICLEI USA Executive Director; Kale Roberts, ICLEI USA Senior Program Officer
Location: Columbia University Earth Institute
Description: Join the New York City Mayor’s Office and Columbia University’s Earth Institute for a panel and networking event for city leaders. Panelists will share their experience delivering local climate action and Green New Deal policies that promote equity and demonstrate the Green New Deal in action.

6:00pm  – 8:30pm         Dinner and Panel Discussion: Sustainable Cities: Hubs of Climate Action and Innovation

Organizers/hosts: Turkey, Kenya, UN-Habitat with UNIDO
ICLEI Members: Ashok Sridharan, Mayor of Bonn and ICLEI President; Bill Peduto, Mayor of Pittsburgh and ICLEI USA Board Director; Lisa Helps, Mayor of Victoria, British Columbia; Ada Colau, Mayor of Barcelona, Spain; Manuel De Araújo, Mayor of Quelimane, Mozambique; Mauricio Rodas, Former Mayor of Quito, Ecuador; Valerie Plante, Mayor of Montreal, Quebec; Gino Van Begin, ICLEI Secretary General
Location: UN Headquarters (Delegates Dinning room) Invitation only

8:00pm – 10:30pm Local and Regional Governments’ delegation reception

Organizers: UCLG and the Global Taskforce
Location: Westin Hotel New York
By invitation only



Tuesday, September 24, 2019

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8:30am – 11:30am      Blockchain & digital technologies for global climate  action tracking and accounting

Organizers: Data-Driven EnviroPolicy Lab (Data-Driven Lab) —; Yale Open Innovation Lab (openlab) —
Location: 866 United Nations Plaza [registration required]
Description: Cities, states and regions as well as business, investors and civil society (i.e., non-state actors or NSAs) are increasingly recognized for their ability to catalyze, implement, and innovate climate actions. In some cases, their efforts go beyond or are more ambitious than national governments’ commitments. Quantitatively assessing and tracking these actions, however, is fraught with difficulties resulting from heterogeneous data sources and gaps in data coverage. These data challenges inhibit non-state actors’ and national governments’ capacity to integrate knowledge – about effective strategies or potential opportunities to coordinate or complement efforts – into their policy processes. This roundtable meeting will convene climate action experts, climate platform managers, and practitioners working at the intersection of blockchain and climate accounting. The conversation will explore the practical opportunities that digital technologies present and the ways they can be leveraged for collaborative accounting networks.

9:00am – 10:300pm      How to Build a Sustainable City: Film Screening and Discussion

Organizer: CDP
ICLEI Representation: Kale Roberts, Senior Program Officer, ICLEI USA
Location: Convene 101 Park Avenue New York, NY 10178
Description: Cities along the Mississippi River have experienced record flooding in 2019 and are increasingly vulnerable to severe storms, water pollution and drought. Join CDP for a screening of the short film, “Sustainable Cities: Building a Greener Memphis” which explores how communities are working together to factor water into their thinking across government, business and communities. Following the film, Katie Walsh, Head of Head of Cities, States and Regions, CDP North America, will moderate a discussion with Mayor Robert Gallagher of Bettendorf, IA, John Zeanah, Director of Memphis and Shelby County Division of Planning and Development, and Glen Yelton, Head of Responsible Investment – Americas at Invesco. The conversation will focus on how cities along a core economic corridor – the Mississippi River – are preparing for climate change impacts through socially equitable natural infrastructure solutions. The panelists will discuss the financing needs required to support climate investment and how these investments can help vulnerable and disadvantaged communities become more resilient.

3:00pm – 6:00pm       Second Local and Regional Governments Forum on the SDGs

Location: United Nations Headquarters, New York
ICLEI Members: Ashok Sridharan, Mayor of Bonn and ICLEI President [speaker]; Bill Peduto, Mayor of Pittsburgh and ICLEI USA Board Director [speaker]; Christopher Castro, Director of Sustainability and Resilience, City of Orlando [attendee]; Kale Roberts, Senior Program Officer, ICLEI USA [attendee]; Yunus Arikan, Head of Global Policy and Advocacay, ICLEI [attendee]
Description: “Connecting global ambition and local action” Special High-Level Event on the occasion of the United Nations SDG Summit 2019
3:30pm – 4:15pm Session 1 – High Level Multi-Stakeholder Panel – The localization of the 2030 Agenda: triggering the transformation needed to address the climate challenge
4:15pm – 5pm Session 2 – Localizing the SDGs: Good practices and experiences on implementing the 2030 Agenda at local level
5:45pm – 5:55pm Closing Session
Learn more.


Wednesday, September 25, 2019

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9:15am – 10:15am Local Leadership on the 2030Agenda [New York City Mayor’s Office of International Affairs welcome to local leadership]
By invitation only. Contact

Organizers: NYC Mayor’s Office of International Affairs
ICLEI Members: Christopher Castro, City of Orlando Director of Sustainability and Resilience [speaker]; Kale Roberts, ICLEI USA Senior Program Officer [attendee]
Location: UN Headquarters Rose Garden

1:30pm – 7:00pm       Driving ambition and scaling finance for sustainable infrastructure in cities

Location: 470 7th Avenue, Floor 4, NYC
Organizers: This event, convened by Climate Policy Initiative, the German government, and the Cities Climate Finance Leadership Alliance, together with the World Bank Group and United Nations Development Programme under the auspices of Invest4Climate, is designed for leaders in city-level climate finance, including cities, regulators, companies, financiers and other stakeholders.
ICLEI members: Bill Peduto, ICLEI USA Board Director and Mayor of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Mauricio Rodas, Former Mayor, Quito, Ecuador
Description: Over the next 15 years, USD 93 trillion of low-emissions and climate-resilient infrastructure will be needed to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. According to The State of City Climate Finance 2015 report, more than 70% of this infrastructure will be built in urban areas, at a cost of $4.5 to $5.4 trillion per year. Current investment in low-carbon, climate-resilient infrastructure, however, is falling far short of these goals. In response to this need, several major initiatives are actively working to mobilize public and private investments and close this financing gap in sustainable and resilient infrastructure in cities.