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6 December 2023

6 Dec 2023 | Urban Africa in action at COP28

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Our cities and regions across the continent are gearing up to make their voices heard loud and clear at COP28, through a range of interventions, stressing the urgent need to scale up a rigorous all-of-economy, all-of-society approach which leads to urgent and significant climate action this decade.

This year, ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, the focal point of the Local Governments and Municipal Authorities (LGMA) Constituency and UN-Habitat, the United Nations entity responsible for sustainable urbanisation, have announced plans for a joint pavilion in the Blue Zone at COP28. The Multilevel Action & Urbanisation Pavilion will function as the global stage for the city and subnational climate agenda at COP28. It will not only spotlight the challenges and needs of local and subnational actors, but also showcase their accomplishments and commitments on climate action.

6 December 2023

The 6th of December at COP28 will shine a spotlight on Multilevel Action, Urbanization, and the Built Environment/Transport, recognising the pivotal role of cities and local governments in the global fight against climate change. This thematic day underscores the interconnectedness between urbanization, transportation, and environmental sustainability, emphasizing the need for innovative solutions at the local level. Local governments play a crucial role in implementing and enforcing policies that promote sustainable urban development, low-carbon transportation, and resilient built environments.

This day at COP28 is of paramount importance to local governments as it provides a platform for them to share best practices, exchange ideas, and collaborate on effective strategies for creating sustainable, climate-resilient communities. By fostering multilevel action, COP28 acknowledges the significance of empowering local authorities to spearhead transformative initiatives that address the unique climate challenges faced by urban areas, ultimately contributing to a more sustainable and resilient future.

Highlights from African Ministers in the COP28 Ministerial Meeting on Urbanisation and Climate Change

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Ghana pledges its support for the Coalition for High Ambition Multilevel Partnership, CHAMP, and the Urban Opportunities Fast Forward Initiative, UFFI, for accelerated access to climate finance for sustainable urbanisation. By joining these initiatives, we anticipate valuable support in advancing our urban resilience agenda, and for transformative change, providing resources and expertise to fortify our cities against the adverse impact of climate change.

Hon. Francis Asenso-Boakye
Minister for Works and Housing, Ghana

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Above all, we need to reflect on how to finance sustainable and resilient planning for our cities, which are falling short, and have little hope of significant change in the next 10 years if courageous measures are not taken to help Guinea-Bissau, which has 60% of the young people who make up the national population.

Hon. Ildefonso Duarte Pinto
Minister of Public Works, Housing and Urbanism (MOPHU), Guinea Bissau

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Uganda is committed to the urban agenda. We have a number of policies and laws regarding environment, but also urban development and housing. We are also part of the AU-STC 8, which is a forum for Ministers of urban development and housing. And we are going to launch the first urban African forum next year in Ethiopia.

Hon. Judith Nabakooba
Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Uganda

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As a small island, living state, we are one of the most vulnerable countries, and at highest risk for the impacts of climate change. We have therefore taken the responsibility to lead from the front, and we are driving various initiatives to meet our pledges of reducing economy-wide emissions by 26.4% by 2030. And to achieve a decarbonised net zero emissions economy by 2050.

Hon. Billy Rangasamy
Minister of Lands and Housing, Seychelles

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On the 24th of October 2023, Cabinet passed the South African Climate Change Bill, which requires all organs of state that perform climate change-related functions, or are interested in achievements of sustainable environment, to review, coordinate and harmonise their policies and programmes. We remain committed to building climate resilient human settlements and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in our living spaces through just transition towards economic-friendly and nature-based solutions.

Hon. Mmamoloko ”Nkhensani” Kubayi
Minister of Human Settlements, South Africa


We are taking transformative steps in bringing together local governments, research institutions, businesses, entrepreneurs and NGOs to change the landscape of urban food in Africa.

Hon. Manuel de Araújo
Mayor of Quelimane, Mozambique


Africa is currently undergoing an immense transition, with its urban population experiencing rapid growth. From an estimated 200 million (31% of Africa’s total population) in 1990, it rose to 548 million (43%) in 2018 and is projected to reach 1,489 million (59%) by 2050. This urbanisation trend places cities and their governments at the centre of efforts to address high levels of food insecurity, poverty, and malnutrition. Over the next four years, AfriFOODlinks aims to connect with, and meaningfully impact, at least 65 cities, establishing a foundation for ongoing collaboration and knowledge sharing between cities in Africa and Europe.

Highlights from "Redefining Resilience: Southern African Cities Unite for a Climate-Ready Future"

This event was hosted by ICLEI Africa and the Covenant of Mayors in Sub-Saharan Africa.

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For in-country funds to be effective, we require government endorsement, accountability, and transparency to ensure impactful and sustainable outcomes for all.

It’s crucial to explore alternative livelihoods in urban areas as informality grows, but this transition must be viewed through the lens of adaptation, ensuring that new opportunities are sustainable and resilient in the face of ongoing urban challenges.

Ms. Bernadette Shalumbu
Manager: Programming and Programs Environmental Investment Fund of Namibia


Knowledge sharing and collaboration are paramount. We must learn from one another, for another city may hold the solution to our most pressing challenges. Together, we can drive sustainable progress and resilience for all.

Amidst the myriad climate challenges, Southern African cities must unite to adapt and share knowledge and methodologies, to build a sustainable and resilient future for our communities

Mayor Trevino Forbes
Walvis Bay City Council, Namibia

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We need to heed the science, we need to bring communities along. Cities are at the centre of the climate battle.

Subnational governments need to have a seat at the table when the loss & damage fund processes are being decided.

We have clear evidence that communities living next to rivers that eThekwini Municipality and partners cleared of waste in 2019, were less affected by the 2022 floods.

Cllr. Nkosenhle Madlala
Executive Member of Ethekwini Municipality and Deputy Chair for Climate Change Committee


To ensure that financing reaches where the needs are most acute, we have established mechanisms to empower and support local governments, driving targeted and impactful investment.

Through pioneering projects, AFD has proven that multilevel governance is pivotal in directing finance to local municipalities, reinforcing their capacity to drive impactful change at the grassroots level.

In developing adaptation plans, it has become increasingly clear that the global north also requires these strategies, and there is much to learn from the experiences and innovations of the global south.

Atika Ben Maid
Deputy Head of Climate and Nature Agence Française de Développement

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Our constitution mandates national and provincial governments to support local municipalities in fulfilling their obligations. We are harnessing this multilevel governance structure to ensure that finance flows effectively to the local level, empowering communities to thrive.

In the development of city plans, climate vulnerabilities are often overlooked. Therefore, we are collaborating with South African municipalities to comprehensively understand their vulnerabilities, empowering them to build resilient and sustainable communities for the future.

Mthobeli Kolisa 
Chief Officer: Infrastructure Delivery, Spatial Transformation & Sustainability SALGA

Highlights from "Local Ecosystem Restoration for Nature-Positive Cities and Regions"

The COP28 presidential session on Local Ecosystem Restoration for Nature-Positive Cities and Regions, held on Wednesday 6 December in Dubai, was a pivotal gathering for local and subnational governments.

It was convened by the COP28 Presidency, High Level Champions, UNEP, ICLEI, the World Bank and Global Commons Alliance to rally cities and regions around advancing a soft call on nature-positive urban development from the UN Climate Change High-Level Champion for COP28, H.E. Razan al Mubarak.


Today, we issue a soft, but important call to action for cities worldwide.

First, cities should integrate nature into their climate transition plans.

Second, we urge cities to report their commitments to the CBD recognized CitiesWithNature Action Platform.

Third, cities should set science-based targets for nature and climate.

We also urge cities to significantly increase investments in nature, nature-based solutions and ecosystem restoration. We also call for partnerships to introduce innovative financing instruments.

H.E Razan al Mubarak
UN Climate Change High-Level Champion and President of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

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As ICLEI biodiversity portfolio holder and endorsers of the Race to Zero and Race to Resilience campaigns, and the CBD recognized RegionsWithNature and CitiesWithNature reporting platforms, we invite and encourage all cities and regions to join these initiatives, and establish science-based objectives aligned with local and national biodiversity strategy and action plans.

Sayda Rodriguez Gómez
Secretary of Sustainable Development of the Yucatan State Government


Today, we issue a soft, but important call to action for cities worldwide. First, cities should integrate nature into their climate transition plans. The 21st century is a natural revolution that we must embrace and understand. That is why, as a part of the biodiversity network of Latin America and an avid advocate of ensuring that nature action is as important as climate action, we embrace the call to be nature positive! As a lighthouse city of the World Bank, UNEP and ICLEI’s Urban Nature Program, Barranquilla is showing that we are part of nature.

Jaime Alberto Pumarejo Heins
Mayor, Barranquilla, Colombia

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The Bonn climate plan was adopted in March this year. We want to become climate neutral by 2035 at the latest. Our climate plan is ambitious as we designed it within the boundaries of the Paris Agreement 1.5 degree goal. Bonn also has a biodiversity strategy, and our ambition is to become a sponge city.

Katja Dörner
Mayor, Bonn, Germany


Since 2019, we have demonstrated our commitment to the green Istanbul vision by incorporating several new urban forests and large urban parks. We have made more than 4 million square meters of green space available for public use to protect and increase biodiversity.

Let’s remind ourselves that we are all in this together and we have no borderline between us, between our countries, or between our cities.

Ekrem İmamoğlu
Mayor, Istanbul, Türkiye

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The global goals on adaptation are setting targets for resilient ecosystems. There are similar targets in the Global Biodiversity Framework. When it comes to adaptation and resilience, all ecosystems and all species are important because they are the mesh of life on which we all depend to stay alive. And cities, in particular, are critical because of the choices that are made in cities that have a footprint well beyond the city boundaries.

Mirey Atallah
Head, Nature for Climate Branch/Moderator, UNEP


Seattle is seen as a leader in the US for sustainable practices both nationally, but also globally, which is a badge of honor for us. One common theme resonating at COP28 is that regardless of the federal, national or international standards we want to put in place for climate action, it really starts at the local level – with cities, committing and implementing nature and climate actions.

Anthony-Paul (AP) Diaz
Superintendent, Seattle Parks and Recreation, Seattle, USA

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