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What Can Chinese Cities Teach Us About Sustainability?

by Don Knapp Apr 24, 2013

A view of Shanghai

Blogger: Michael Schmitz, ICLEI USA Executive Director

This article originally appeared on Environmental Leader, following Michael's April 2013 trip to China with Gov. Brown's trade delegation. Chinese local government leaders expressed strong interest in ICLEI's tools and guidance, and the climate and energy policies of U.S. cities. ICLEI will work to help connect Chinese and U.S. cities to share best practices.


Take a tour of China’s fast-growing megacities and you’re likely to come away astonished. Those of us who joined Gov. Edmund G. Brown, Jr.’s historic trade and investment delegation last week were struck by the sheer size and rapid scale of development in dozens of cities, from Beijing and Shanghai to Huangzhou and Guangzhou. But a closer look, past the infamous veil of air pollution, reveals a lesser-known reality with incredible potential: China’s vast efforts to build sustainable, low-carbon cities from the ground up and to massively retrofit existing ones.

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ICLEI Goes to China With Governor Brown’s Delegation

by Michael Schmitz Apr 07, 2013

Blogger: Michael Schmitz, ICLEI USA Executive Director

When I was asked to join California Governor Jerry Brown’s delegation on a historic trade and investment mission to China, I jumped at the chance. ICLEI brings together city leaders from around the world, and this mission offers a remarkable opportunity to strengthen ties between U.S. and Chinese cities, especially since climate policy and energy investment will be major topics of discussion during the trip.

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ICLEI's Evaluation of Rio+20, and What It Means for Cities

by ICLEI World Secretariat Jun 28, 2012

Now that Rio+20 is over, how can we evaluate it from the perspective of local governments? While much has been made of the summit's overall failure to achieve meaningful agreements among nations, Rio+20 was a showcase for the leadership of cities, and ICLEI played a primary role in this result and helped further a global exchange of best practices to create more sustainable cities and a green economy. Read on for our evaluation of Rio+20 from a local government point of view, and our hope for next steps toward a more sustainable future.

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Road to Sustainability Is Through Cities, Says Ban Ki-Moon

by Don Knapp Jun 21, 2012

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon applauds a crowd of Mayors and local government officials for advancing sustainability in their towns and cities at the Rio+20 Global Town Hall today.

“Local is global and global is local,” Ban Ki-moon said, explaining that in today’s globalized world, there is little difference between local and federal governments, and therefore cities play an equally important role in achieving sustainability.

At the historic Rio+20 summit, countries have come up with a scope of agreement that will chart sustainable development in the next years. But Ban Ki-moon fears that this would merely be another piece of paper, unless cities lead by example, and take their over 500 voluntary commitments for action seriously. “The country is the sum of cities. If cities do not work, then countries cannot work”, he added.

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At Rio+20 Today: State Department Talk on Cities and Sustainability

by Don Knapp Jun 18, 2012

Special Representative for Global Intergovermental Affairs Reta Jo Lewis at
ICLEI's Resilient Cities conference in 2011.


Tune in today for a special Rio+20 event on cities and sustainability, featuring federal and local government leaders, including an ICLEI USA Board Member.

U.S. Special Representative for Global Intergovermental Affairs Reta Jo Lewis is sponsoring an event at the U.S. Center in Rio do Janeiro today, June 19, 2012, at 4:00 pm EST.  Entitled, “Cities:  Where the Rubber Meets the Road,” the discussion will focus on sustainability and cities.  Special Representative Lewis will be joined by Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality and former Los Angeles Deputy Mayor Nancy Sutley; Oakland, CA Mayor Jean Quan; and Sonoma County, CA Supervisor Valerie Brown.

The discussion will be webcast live on UStream:

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ICLEI and Rio+20

by Don Knapp Jun 18, 2012

Below is a brief introduction to the objectives and themes of the Rio+20 conference and ICLEI's involvement in this process.

What is Rio+20?

In  December 2009, the UN General Assembly decided to hold the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) - also referred to as 'Rio+20'.

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Rio+20 Updates for Local Governments

by Don Knapp May 23, 2012

On June 20-22, a global conversation on sustainability challenges will take place at the United Nations' Rio+20 Summit, with the overarching theme of "The Future We Want."

In addition to the national government representatives, local government leaders will attend, led by ICLEI, which will work to amplify their voices and ensure that local perspectives are heard, especially regarding the green economy.


Your Rio+20 Primer

Want an overview of the Summit and how ICLEI and local governments will be involved? Browse ICLEI's Rio+20 page, which includes a "fast facts" primer.

Get an Overview >>

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Local Climate Progress Worldwide Captured in New ICLEI Report

by Don Knapp Dec 04, 2011

New York skyline banner image

Right now, in the absence of any international climate agreement (or national, for that matter), local climate action is what the world can count on. That's the takeaway from a new report release over the weekend by ICLEI's World Secretariat.

cCCR report thumb 2011The carbonn Cities Climate Registry (cCCR) Annual Report was released at COP17 in Durban, South Africa on the world stage, to show the global community what goals local governments have set to mitigate climate change, what they've achieved so far, and what they can accomplish down the road, especially if their efforts are empowered by national and international agreements.

Blue yellow arrow icon small View the Report

This groundbreaking report, the first global snapshot of local climate action, quantified the performance of 51 cities in 19 countries, representing 83 million inhabitants and 447 million tons of C02e emissions per year.

The report underscores the importance of not only measuring GHG emissions to track performance, but to report those emissions to a platform like cCCR. ICLEI has long promoted the maxim, "you cannot manage what you cannot measure," and now we can to that, "we cannot count what we do not report."

What Have Cities Accomplished?

Here are the main takeaways from the report, pulled from the report summary, as well as recommendations for future action:

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ICLEI Building Clean and Efficient Cities in India

by Emma Timboy-Pickering Sep 19, 2011

Urban Climate Project screen-shot













View a 10-minute summary of a three-year undertaking, the Urban Climate Project: Building Clean and Efficient Cities (UCP). This short documentary highlights the actions developed by a joint initiative of ICLEI, the National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) and the U.S. Department of State: Asia Pacific Partnership.

Through the UCP, ICLEI assisted two Indian cities, Rajkot and Coimbatore, to implement green and energy-efficient infrastructure projects and pilot demonstrations. The UCP process involved measuring the greenhouse gas emissions from the two cities, and then working with the cities to help implement projects and pilot demonstrations. The two cities are now serving as models in a replicate process for over 60 other cities in India as well as cities throughout the developing world.

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Take a Tour of Europe's Most Resilient, Sustainable Cities

by Missy Stults, Climate Director Apr 26, 2011

Resilient Cities Tour

ICLEI USA invites you to participate in a rare and exciting opportunity to tour four leading European cities that have successfully implemented innovative climate policies and sustainability initiatives. ICLEI's Resilient Cities Study Tour 2011 brings you four cities in fourteen days, filled with networking and collaboration opportunities, and countless first-hand experiences, and new ideas to bring home to your community. Hurry and register: Only 15 spots are available!

Join an international delegation of experts and local government staff and elected officials who will visit Dresden, Rotterdam, Bonn and Freiburg.

RSVP Now blue button         

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