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On Eve of Key United Nations Vote on the Sustainable Development Goals,



Global Urban Leaders Step Up to Combat Climate Change,

Accelerate Momentum Towards Sustainable Development

NEW YORK CITY — Mayors and governors from across the United States and around the world will commit to putting their cities and states on a path towards sustainable development, as elected leaders increasingly recognize that climate change, rising inequalities and unsustainable economic growth are immediate threats to their constituencies and economies. More than 30 city leaders will meet Thursday in New York City, on the eve of Pope Francis’ address to the United Nations, which opens the General Assembly’s consideration and adoption of global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“This is an historic meeting,” said Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) Director Dr. Jeffrey Sachs. “As was agreed at the Vatican in July, this reunion of mayors, governors, and development leaders launches the new ‘Urban Partnership for the Sustainable Development Goals.’ When the 193 member states adopt the SDGs at the UN, they will call for cities and other sub-national governments to take on the challenge of meeting the new goals. The mayors and governors meeting on Thursday are saying loud and clear that they are ready, willing, and able to lead.”

California Governor Jerry Brown will kick off the evening by announcing new signatories to the Subnational Global Climate Leadership Memorandum of Understanding, or “Under 2 MOU,” in which leaders commit to limiting emissions by at least 80 percent below 1990 levels, or below two metric tons per capita, by 2050. With the addition of Los Angeles and Zhenjiang last week, the first cities to endorse the agreement, a total of 23 jurisdictions in 10 countries and five continents have signed or endorsed the Under 2 MOU, collectively representing more than $5.5 trillion in GDP and 141 million people. If the Under 2 MOU signatories were a single country, they would represent the third largest economy in the world behind only China and the United States. The new signatories are paving the way for more cities and states to implement sustainable policies. These emission reductions at the regional level put city and state policy at the forefront of efforts to keep warming below the dangerous 2 degrees Celsius threshold.

Mayors from every continent (see list of 30-plus mayors below) will pledge their support for the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, creating a groundbreaking international network of Mayors committed to implementing policies in line with sustainable principles. In doing so they are building on pledges from a July Vatican City Mayor’s conference convened by Pope Francis to “work towards the success of the SDGs in our own cities and respective areas of endeavor, and to partner with others across the globe to help all cities to achieve the new SDGs with success.”

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals build on the 8 Millennium Development Goals, which drove progress on poverty, education and health, with an additional focus on sustainable and equitable management of natural resources, investment in climate-resilient infrastructure, expanded access to renewable energy, the development of safe, inclusive cities, and immediate action against the causes and effects of climate change.

“For a full transformation to sustainability, we need to create a race to the top, leaving no one behind,” said ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability Secretary General Gino Van Begin. The best way to do this is to encourage and get inspired by pioneers who are most often found at the local and subnational levels.”

The Mayors’ timely commitments are further evidence of the growing demand for world leaders to take concrete and decisive steps to create economies based on the principles of sustainable development. As the global population shifts to urban areas, leadership by cities will increasingly determine the nature of global economic development and the pace of transition toward renewable energy.

“For the first time in human history, more than half of the global population lives in urban areas, making cities critical epicenters of environmental stewardship and social responsibility,” said New School President David Van Zandt. “The New School recognizes the magnitude of this by embarking on a robust climate action plan, enhancing its practices and curriculum to create viable sustainable solutions, and by becoming one of the first institutions to join the Mayor’s Challenge to Universities.”

Urbanization will be the defining demographic trend over the next several decades. Approximately 54 percent of the world’s 7.3 billion people live in cities. By 2050, that is expected to rise to around 70 percent of the world’s population. Cities generate roughly 75 percent of global economic activity as well as 75 percent of all global greenhouse gas emissions. Approximately one billion people live in urban slums and many cities suffer from severe air and water pollution, illustrating acutely the importance of mayoral leadership.


Quotes from Global Leaders on Sustainable Development

Banda Aceh, Indonesia – Mayor Illiza Sa’aduddin Djamal

“Communities need to be fully involved in the planning and development of the territories. This is the only way in which we can become resilient, tackle the adverse effects of climate change, and work on adaptation in a sustainable manner. As local leaders it is our responsibility to listen carefully to the actual needs and priorities of our people. It is their needs that need to drive the agenda.”

Belo Horizonte, Brazil – Mayor Marcio Lacerda

“The city of Belo Horizonte has been complying, since 2006, with the mission to localize, develop and monitor the Millennium Development Goals. This enabled us to achieve over 60 percent of our goals by 2012. To keep progressing and improving the quality of life of all citizens from Belo Horizonte, our Strategic Plan 2030, currently in revision, is already aligned with the post 2015 development agenda and its proposition of the Sustainable Development Goals. Inspired by this experience and combined with my leadership at the National Front of Mayors, I intend to mobilize other mayors to work together as an alliance to achieve the SDGs in Brazil.”

Birmingham, United States – Mayor William A. Bell

“Getting 196 different countries acting in concert is a hard job. But change at the local level can have real impacts. That’s why Birmingham is taking the lead on reducing its greenhouse gas emissions. This year we’ve rolled out a new bike share program, introduced electric vehicle charging stations, and more than doubled the number of vehicles running on alternative fuel. We’re also going to transition our remaining fleet of gas-powered buses to 100 percent electric. These actions help our residents, cutting gas bills and improving health. They also show leaders on the national and international stage that change is possible, desired and beneficial.”

Dakar, Senegal – Mayor Khalifa Sall

“For African Mayors the inclusion of Goal 11 in the Development Agenda delivers a very strong message. The message that our continent is becoming undeniably urban with 60 percent of our GIP originated in cities. In the next 20 years Africa will see its urban population double. Providing decent work, access to basic services and culture will be a great challenge of our continent.”

Kingston, Jamaica – Mayor Angela Brown Burke

“If ever we needed a reminder about the importance of sustainable development, the yearlong drought and increasingly warmer summers that we are experiencing in Jamaica are doing so forcibly. Every aspect of our lives as citizens, business persons, and government is now being affected by the decisions that were made or not made by previous generations: Decisions about location of water catchment areas; protecting our underground water sources; harvesting of rain water; food security; agricultural crops; urban development; local economic development and investment in people. As we gain a better understanding of how today’s actions define the future, we must renew our commitment to consciously make decisions on economic, environmental and social development, to reverse, or mitigate the harmful effects on current and future generations. This is our duty. I can’t stand by and watch. As we discuss the sustainable development goals we create a better understanding and shared vision of a sustainable and equitable future for our children and grandchildren and the planet on which they live.”

Minneapolis, Minnesota – Mayor Betsy Hodges

“Minneapolis suffers from some of the worst racial disparities in the nation, from wealth to housing to education. Growth for the sake of growth alone has done nothing to end these inequities; moreover, it has brought our climate to the breaking point. For this reason, we are applying the principle of inclusive growth to everything we do: it is the key element guiding our transformation to a sustainable, equitable city that will lead our nation and the world in the 21st century. I am honored to gather in New York with my fellow mayors to support Pope Francis and the United Nations in the crucial mission of global sustainability.”

Vancouver, Canada – Mayor Gregor Robertson

“Cities are on the front lines of tackling the world’s greatest and most pressing challenges, and the Sustainable Development Goals represent a comprehensive and urgent call to action for the innovative policies we need to transition our world into a sustainable future. Continued leadership from cities will be essential as the world moves to confront climate change, to eradicate poverty and injustice, and to grow our economy with shared and sustainable prosperity.”


Entire List of Attending Mayors

Mayor of Bagangté, Cameroon, Célestine Ketcha Courtès

Mayor of Banda Aceh, Indonesia, Illiza Sa’aduddin Djamal

Mayor of Belo Horizonte, Brazil, Marcio Araujo de Lacerda

Mayor of Birmingham, United States, William A. Bell

Mayor of Bogotá, Colombia, Gustavo Petro Urrego

Mayor of Dakar, Senegal, Khalifa Sall

Mayor of Gaborone, Botswana, Kagiso Thutlwe

Mayor of Johannesburg, South Africa, Mpho Franklyn Parks Tau

Mayor of Joondalup, Australia, Troy Pickard

Mayor of Kingston, Jamaica, Angela Brown Burke

Mayor of Kitchener, Canada, Berislav Vrbanovic

Mayor of Kochi, India, Tony Chammany

Mayor of Kolwezi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Charlotte Cime Jinga

Mayor of Libreville, Gabon, Rose Christiane Ossouka Raponda

Mayor of Ljubljana, Slovenia, Zoran Jancovic

Mayor of Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Jean Oscar Sanguza Mutunda

Mayor of Matola, Mozambique, Calisto Moisés Cossa

Mayor of Medellín, Colombia, Aníbal Gaviria Correa

Mayor of Mexico City, Mexico, Miguel Angel Mancera

Mayor of Minneapolis, United States, Betsy Hodges

Mayor of New Orleans, United States, Mitch Landrieu

Mayor of Nampula, Mozambique, Mahamudo Amurane

Mayor of Oslo, Norway, Fabian Stang

Mayor of Porto Alegre, Brazil, José Fortunati

Mayor of Rosario, Argentina, Monica Fein

Mayor of Sidi M’Hamed, Algeria, Nasreddine Zenasni

Mayor of Soroti, Uganda, Alfred Martin Aruo

Mayor of Tevragh-Zeina, Mauritania, Fatimetou Mint Abdel Malick

Mayor of Tshwane, South Africa, Cllr Kgosientso Ramokgopa

Mayor of Vancouver, Canada, Gregor Robertson

Mayor of Villa María, Argentina, Eduardo Accastello


Additional: Mayor of Technical and Environmental Affairs of Copenhagen, Denmark, Morten Kabell