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At Rio+20 cities showed leadership “by doing,” says World Bank expert

“Was the Rio journey worth it?” asked World Bank expert Dan Hoornweg in a recent post on the Sustainable Cities blog for urban development professionals. Reflecting on his experience at the Rio+20 Earth Summit, Hoornweg noted that the normally “grey” issue of sustainable development seemed to be a lot more black and white: the actions that need to be taken are clearer than ever, he said, and cities have a large role to play.

In citing the bright spots at Rio+20, Hoornweg called out the announcement C40 made at its Rio+C40 event on the launch of a new initiative in partnership with the World Bank to reduce methane emissions though solid waste management, as well as on the delivery of significant emissions reductions across the global C40 network of cities:

“Good news: everyone now understands just how important cities are to sustainable development, especially – and most importantly – cities themselves. The importance of the C40 announcement of a clear 1 giga tonne reduction target in member cities was their willingness to have achievements measured against a clear and third-party verifiable inventory.”

The leadership of C40 Cities on climate action, their commitment to measurement for management, and their engagement of local communities in the fight against climate change all demonstrate real progress — and might yet convince state-level actors to move more quickly, suggested Hoornweg. Concluding the piece, Hoornweg said:

“There’s not nearly enough genuine progress on the three big goals related to biodiversity loss, land degradation and greenhouse gas emissions. Although certainly not a substitute for international agreements, other actors are stepping in to fill the void. These include agencies, businesses, and cities. Events like the off-site business day, and the City of Rio and C40’s special session at Forte de Copacabana in the heart of the city, had a very different atmosphere: hopeful, action oriented, and ironically, strongly supported by customers and citizens. This additional help might yet convince countries to reach agreement on the really difficult issues more quickly.”

To find out more about the work of C40 go to www.C40.org, where you will find videos and other coverage of the recent Rio+C40 event.