Webinar: Leading with Local Action: U.S. Local Governments Contribute to Global Processes Past, Present, Future

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Date(s) - 09/23/2020
8:00 am PDT - 9:30 am PDT


September 2020 marks the 30 years since a group of emboldened mayors asserted the local contribution to global sustainability in what would become the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, now known as ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability. Today, ICLEI’s advocacy on behalf of cities, towns, and regions continues in climate, biodiversity, health and equity action — with important opportunities for U.S. local governments.

Join Jeb Brugmann, orchestrator of ICLEI’s founding and its first Secretary General, California State Senator Nancy Skinner, credited for founding ICLEI’s U.S. office, alongside researcher Ben Leffel and ICLEI Director of Global Policy Yunus Arikan for a look into how U.S. cities counties continue to assert their leadership: past, present, and future.



Daniel Zarrilli, as New York City’s Chief Climate Policy Advisor and OneNYC Director, is preparing America’s largest city for the future and delivering on New York City’s Green New Deal. Under Daniel’s leadership, New York City recently released its newest long-term strategic plan, OneNYC 2050, which includes bold actions to confront our climate crisis, achieve equity, and strengthen our democracy, demonstrating what a Green New Deal looks like in action. Since 2013, he has positioned New York City as the global leader in the fight against climate change. Notable successes include launching a comprehensive $20 billion climate adaptation program, aligning the city’s greenhouse gas reductions with the 1.5C target of the Paris Agreement, committing to divest the City’s pension funds from fossil fuel reserve owners and invest billions into climate solutions, suing fossil fuel companies for the damage caused by climate change, and committing to end the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure serving New York City. Daniel served on NOAA’s advisory committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment. He also concluded a 3-year term on FEMA’s National Advisory Council and advised the State of Louisiana on its 2017 Coastal Master Plan update.


Yunus Arikan is the Director of Global Advocacy for ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability, where he leads the global policy and advocacy team at ICLEI. Since 2013, Yunus has led global advocacy towards international bodies and multilateral agreements. Yunus helped establish the Bonn Center for Local Climate Action and Reporting – carbonn – and served as the Director of the Secretariat for the World Mayors Council on Climate Change. He has a background in environmental engineering.




Jeb Brugmann has a 37-year career working with cities to establish new practices for local sustainability, climate action, and social equity. In 1989-90 he instigated, organized, and directed the ICLEI’s founding congress and built the worldwide alliance of local government associations and leaders that adopted the ICLEI Charter in September 1990. He then served as ICLEI Secretary General from 1990-2000, building the worldwide organization. In this capacity, Jeb established ICLEI’s Urban CO2 Reduction Project and the United Nations sponsored Local Agenda 21 initiative, which by the year 2000 had engaged more than 6,400 communities in 113 countries in developing the field of local sustainable development planning.

In 2001-2003, Jeb directed an ADB/USAID/City of Honolulu capacity building program for the senior city leaders and city managers of more than a hundred Asia-Pacific cities. In 2004 he co-founded The Next Practice business innovation consultancy, developing new products with companies in the banking, energy, FMCG, health, and property sectors to address challenges confronting very low-income African and Asian populations.  He served as interim Executive Director of ICLEI-USA in 2010-11. In 2017, he joined the 100 Resilient Cities team as Vice President, Solutions Development, managing 100RC’s technical team and overseeing 115 corporate partnerships. Following the conclusion of 100RC, he co-founded Resilient Cities Catalyst, where he works as a Founding Principal. He is a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Sustainability Leadership, Cambridge University. His research and publications span the topics of local and regional economic development, market analytics for informal economies, local sustainability planning and performance management, and financing climate adaptation.


California State Senator and ICLEI USA founder, Nancy Skinner, is a social justice advocate, energy and climate change trailblazer, and accomplished legislator. She has also completed three terms in the state Assembly. Skinner began her public service in 1984 as the first and only student to be elected to the Berkeley City Council. On the council, Skinner introduced the nation’s first Styrofoam ban and co-founded an international association of cities, the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, now known as ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability, to address climate change. After her term on the council, Skinner served as executive director of ICLEI’s US office and international director of ICLEI’s Cities for Climate Protection program, which engaged cities worldwide to act to stop climate change. In the Assembly, she served as chair of three key committees: Budget, Rules, and Natural Resources and carried measures that doubled rooftop solar and renewable energy. In the state Senate, Skinner serves on eight committees and is chair of the Public Safety Committee and the Public Safety Budget Committee. She has authored two landmark criminal justice reform laws, opening up police misconduct records for the first time in 40 years and overhauling California’s outdated and unfair felony murder rule. She also has authored laws to address California’s housing crisis and protect the environment and cut greenhouse gas emissions.  A graduate of UC Berkeley with a BS and an MA, Skinner co-founded the labor union representing graduate student instructors and was a leader in the UC South Africa Divestment movement.

Dr. Benjamin Leffel, Ph.D. is a scholar of global cities, climate change governance and city diplomacy. He lectures at the University of California Merced and is an honorary historian of ICLEI. Connect with Dr. Leffel on Twitter @BenjaminJLeffel.