Johannesburg to host first African C40 Climate Summit

C40

The City of Johannesburg will play host to the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Summit this year; delegates from 44 countries will converge at the Sandton Convention Centre in February to network and discuss their cities' responses to climate change.

The City of Johannesburg will host the fifth biennial C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group Mayors Summit from 4 to 6 February 2014 at the Sandton Convention Centre.

The C40, founded in 2005, is, according to its website, "a network of the world’s megacities taking action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions". Megacities can hold populations in excess of 10 million people.

This year's summit theme is: Towards resilient and liveable megacities - demonstrating action, impact and opportunity. This is the first time the summit will be held in Africa.

Councillor Mpho Parks Tau, Johannesburg's executive mayor, will lead the summit, along with C40 chair and Rio de Janeiro mayor, Eduardo Paes; and New York City mayor and president of the C40 board, Michael Bloomberg.

This event is expected to bring together municipal leaders from more than 44 cities, and sustainability and technical experts across multiple sectors, to exchange ideas, forge new partnerships and address problems and challenges faced by cities in addressing climate change. Delegates will also share working, practical solutions implemented in their home cities.

According to Tau, mayors of big cities have the responsibility to provide leadership and share experiences and capacity for innovation with the rest of the world.

“We take action on this front because of our shared conviction that climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time. In the end, we are measured not by how much we undertake, but by what we finally accomplish,” said Tau.

A key component in the Johannesburg 2040 Growth and Development Strategy, addressing climate change causes, is reducing carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions in the city. The Johannesburg Development Agency, working with the City of Johannesburg, has been a driving force behind the strategy, responsible for designing and implementing the infrastructure behind the Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system. The bus service is proving a hit with city residents, easing travel and saving on travel costs, and helping to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The BRT system is part of a greater project, the Corridors of Freedom, which aims to reduce travel times and costs for residents, and build mixed-use urban areas for people to live, work and play in, making Johannesburg a sustainable, liveable city.

Beating the deadline

Paes says: "With 70% of the world's population predicted to live in urban areas by 2050, we as cities are working to the tightest of deadlines in order to preserve all our futures."

Bloomberg added: "Cities around the world are taking action against climate change, and C40 cities are leading the way. As a result, as our research shows, we are having a real and quantifiable impact on global greenhouse gas emissions. While national governments convene summits to discuss this serious issue, the C40 Cities Mayors Summit will be focused on action - and the specific steps we can take to protect the planet and grow our cities." 

Discussion panel participants will include Rachel Kyte, World Bank vice president and special envoy for climate change, speaking on adaptable and resilient cities; building liveable cities; and socio-economic development of emerging megacities; and Andrew Steer, president and chief executive officer of World Resources Institute, who will join a panel discussion on the importance of measurements and data in advancing city climate agendas.

The C40 summit will also release the second volume of its global report: Climate Action in Megacities, publishing the results of a three-year research project to gather and benchmark data on the actions and powers of cities to address the causes and risks of climate change.

The report - developed in partnership with Arup, an independent firm of designers, planners and engineers - details how megacities are leading the way to reduce carbon emissions and climate change risks.

For more information regarding the C40 summit visit the 2014 Summit, www.joburg.org.za, or follow C40 on Twitter and Facebook.