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13 February 2015

3 months on: Learning from the participants of the LOCS Congress 2013

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Just 3 months ago in October-November 2013, over 450 registered delegates from 25 countries, including 300 local government representatives, came together to discuss the challenges and opportunities presented by climate change in a rapidly urbanising Africa.

The Congress was the launching pad for new ideas, initiatives, partnerships and projects. You can see some of the outcomes in the Congress Report. Or read more about ICLEI Africa’s new project in Dar es Salaam tackling the food-energy-water nexus in partnership with the German Development Agency, GIZ. ICLEI Africa is proud to welcome Kinondoni Municipality, one of the hosts of the LOCS Congress in Dar es Salaam, as the latest Member from the African region.

Very soon, ICLEI Africa will be sharing the Congress video: which uses the voices of the Congress speakers and participants to highlight the learning and key messages that local practitioners took home, and of course the fun that was shared together!

This video was funded by Practical Action through the ELLA Learning Alliance on Climate Resilient Cities: which aims to share lessons between practitioners in Africa, South America and Asia. But this isn’t the only way that ICLEI Africa and ELLA partnered to enable the voices of local practitioners, officials and community members at the Congress to be heard.

The “Add Your Voice” message tree was proudly positioned in the plenary hall as a space for LOCS 2013 Congress participants. Participants could pin their answers to 3 important questions, to the Congress tree of voices, and soon the tree was growing strong, with over 70 leaves proclaiming people’s visions and ideas. We’ve shared some of what we thought were the most interesting messages already on page 5 of the LOCS Congress report. But what were the overall messages from the Congress participants?

1) What is your climate vision for your city?

As seen below- the biggest themes that emerged were the creation or protection of green, clean spaces in cities and active citizens: engaged in their local environment, educated and aware.

2) Name the one most important thing cities and local governments in Africa need in order to become low-carbon, resilient, prosperous.

The people are important! As in question 1, an active citizenry, be it through engagement, awareness or education, was deemed very important, as was effective urban planning instruments and implementation to manage the city effectively for people and for the climate.

3) What are you doing to help cities in Africa become less vulnerable to climate change?

Luckily, given how important delegates felt it is, most participants were engaged in educating and reaching out to citizens and communities about the issue of climate change, resource efficiency.

The messages formed a contribution to the discussions surrounding the content of the Congress Communique which was issued from the Congress on Friday, 1 November.

The message board lives on, ready and willing to receive the pinned-hopes and aspirations of future Congress-participants: people actively contributing to their local areas and municipalities to make transformational change a reality, one step at a time.

A short selection of some of the comments made:

“My vision is of a green city! One with urban nature, safe spaces, well running services. Safe from climate change and low in emissions. A sustainable city!”

“Working together we can do more.”

“I am helping capacitate cities to sustainably manage biodiversity and ecosystem services-cities need to reconcile urban development with the conservation of natural resources”

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