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C40 Voices: Cristiana Fragola, Europe Regional Director

A politically complex and culturally diverse region, Europe is home to almost 10 percent of the world’s population. The global climate change challenge presents an incredible opportunity to bring more cohesion and unity of purpose to the region, which is still struggling to find its own equilibrium at the supranational level.

Europe’s fairly limited natural resources are shared by many different countries, and Europeans today are facing extremely difficult economic times. Yet, despite these challenges, the 19 European C40 cities are paving the way — and have already shown remarkable leadership — in setting ambitious climate goals; in collaborating with their peers; and in spearheading healthy competition.

As C40’s Europe Regional Director, I am deeply honored to be supporting each of our 19 European cities in taking local climate action that in many cases spurs economic recovery and growth. Together our cities are achieving even more productive partnerships and dialogue — with each other, with other key players in the region, and with the cities in C40’s extensive global network.

Over the next three months, city delegates from Milan will visit Moscow to exchange best practices on transportation; eight of our European cities will gather in London to get more familiar with our measurement and planning protocol for citywide greenhouse gas inventories at a workshop following the C40 & Siemens City Climate Leadership Awards Conference, which has one third of the twenty-nine finalists represented by European Cities; several of our cities from around the world will meet in Copenhagen in October to focus on Green Growth; and other cities active in the field of low carbon district-scale development will gather in Stockholm in early November.

While Europe’s C40 cities are often first-movers in developing innovative local policies, programs and projects, they are also the first place that the sustainability goals and mandates of the European Union (EU) Directives are coming to life. Moreover, these cities are where EU funds allocated to sustainability initiatives can be matched to concrete pilot projects and programs on the ground. Hence there is a tremendous opportunity to show how regulatory mandates and regional funding, when combined with proactive and voluntary actions at the local level, can become a very effective catalyst for climate change solutions and innovation.

Through C40’s global network and research efforts, we are gathering tangible and robust evidence of the co-benefits of climate change action: well-integrated Mayoral climate change agendas spur a much needed economic recovery and even generate jobs while also better improving the management of cities’ natural assets and the quality of life of citizens. New data released in June with CDP in our Wealthier Healthier Cities Report shows that more than 91 percent of the global 110 reporting cities taking action to combat climate change are also seeing economic benefits, some of them are reporting annual savings of up to USD 13 million and an increase in new investments — the equivalent of over 10 million Euro at the current exchange rate. That’s money that an administration can allocate to provide more services and quality of life to its citizens. I was also very pleased to see that this year approximately 90 percent of our European Cities participated in this important data-gathering report.

It is my intention as C40’s Europe Regional Director to serve as a connector who can help facilitate and support the cities’ sharing of climate actions that deliver across the “triple bottom line” of financial, environmental and social performance, so that we can shape a more resilient future for all — if we are committed and act quickly.

Cristiana Fragola is the Regional Director for Europe for the C40 Climate Leadership Group. In such capacity, she manages relationships with 19 European cities and liaises them with the C40 global network to support them in successfully achieving their climate action plans. She joins C40 from the New York City government where she served most recently as Deputy Director of Sustainability of the New York City Housing Authority and, prior to that, as Director of MillionTreesNYC, a PlaNYC initiative. Earlier, Cristiana served as a legal advisor to the UN Development Programme, where she provided advice for the MDG Carbon Finance Facility and the implementation of the programs of the Millennium Development Goals. Cristiana has worked as an international lawyer for the law firm Clifford Change Rogers & Wells and as Vice President and Assistant General Counsel for News Corporation. She holds graduate degrees in international law from the University of Pennsylvania, where she was a Rotary Ambassadorial Fellow, and in government administration, environment and energy policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, where she received the Zuckerman Fellowship from the Center for Public Leadership. A native Italian, she is based in Milan and London.