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22 April 2021

NEWS ROUNDUP 2021 | Happy Earth Day!

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Message from our Director

Kobie Brand_3

Ms Kobie Brand

Deputy Secretary General, ICLEI
Regional Director, ICLEI Africa

2021 is a big year for our planet. This is what it means for our cities.

This year marks a key moment in global negotiations and commitments for both nature and climate. As nations continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, we continue to support subnational governments to find tangible ways to not only improve the health and well-being of the people who call cities home, but also to restore and increase urban nature while building resilience against the impacts of climate change.

The 2021 UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP26) marks the first COP after the measures laid out in the Paris Agreement take effect, providing a renewed opportunity for nations to strengthen their ambition for climate action. The Local Governments and Municipal Authorities (LGMA) Constituency, led by ICLEI, has represented local and regional governments at the UNFCCC processes since the first COP in 1995 and continues to be the voice of cities at COP26.
The 2021 UN Biodiversity Conference (CBD COP15) will review the achievement and delivery of the Convention on Biological Diversity’s (CBD) Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020. It is also anticipated that the final decision on the post-2020 global biodiversity framework will be taken. ICLEI plays a key role in the process to develop the post-2020 framework. The recently signed Edinburgh Declaration also recognises the essential role of subnational governments and other local groups in supporting biodiversity conservation and ecosystem restoration efforts.
Cities experience the impacts of a global pandemic and climate change most severely. At the same time, this is where strong responses and sustainable, resilient, nature-centred development stem from. Cities are key in achieving international climate and nature commitments and this Earth Day we are proud to say that we continue to stand by our cities to create future-proof, healthy urban areas where both people and planet can thrive.

ICLEI is proud to be recognised as an official Global Partner to the UN Decade, playing an active role in shaping the decade ahead, with significant and long-term commitments, and through connecting our constituents to the UN Decade.

Meeting climate commitments. Transforming cities and nations

Often referred to as the heart of the Paris Agreement, National Determined Contributions (NDCs) provide specific targets for cities to meet to achieve the accord. The climate work of cities could become a grassroots movement toward creating a low-emission, resilient, nature-centric world. The NDCs act as a vehicle for long-term, sustainable transformation, and bring together a coherent approach that meets both national and international needs and commitments.
This first-of-its-kind brochure by our IMPACT project provides:
  • Key information on how the NDCs contribute to the Paris Agreement
  • Paris Agreement timeline and terminology
  • 10 reasons why cities are key in meeting climate commitments
  • 13 tips for creating a robust NDC
  • A step-by-step guide on how to integrate subnational government into the NDC process

Follow our climate action stories


ICLEI Africa is involved in a wide range of climate and energy projects with a host of partners and funders. We are bringing all of this work together to tell stories of how our cities are taking climate action with our #ClimateAction4Africa campaign.

earth day

Ensuring a sustainable urban future

In harmony with nature

Launched at ICLEI’s 2021 World Congress, this video outlines how ICLEI’s Cities Biodiversity Center and Regional Offices work to mainstream nature-based development to protect and enhance biodiversity and urban ecosystems.

ICLEI develops and demonstrates solutions on how cities and city-regions can plan and work better with nature: implement nature-based solutions; innovate to address biodiversity loss together with climate resilience, disaster risk reduction and address the social dimensions; as well as contribute to global best practice.
Elizabeth Maruma Mrema
Executive Secretary, Secretariat of the Convention on Biodlogical Diversity, on the occasion of World Cities Day 2020

More updates from ICLEI Africa

7 proven ways to collaborate better &

Achieve climate commitments

Integrative, multi-level collaboration has been shown to lead to better outcomes for climate-resilient urban development – but it’s easier said than done, as each government sectors and departments must deal with their own deliverables, mandates and agendas. To help the process, we compiled a set of seven practical factors that enable successful collaboration, some of which have proven especially useful during the COVID-19 pandemic.

RISE Africa

New action festival aims at highlighting urban innovation in African cities

ICLEI Africa launches the inaugural edition of the annual RISE Africa event as part of the platform’s vision to inspire and enable impactful and inventive action for sustainable, resilient African cities

New tool supports deep explorations on data and circular initiatives: here’s what it means for African cities

The Circle City Scan Tool will help cities discover circular economy opportunities. We share experiences from Accra and Cape Town on the role urban data plays in circular economy solutions and the challenges to make informed decisions that respond to local contexts.

Rwanda upgrades healthcare centres as part of green economic recovery

The centres in Kigali and Muhanga are partnering with Urban-LEDS II to improve resource-efficient access to water and electricity. These upgrades will respond to the pandemic in a low-emission, climate-friendly way and provide running hot water to a maternity ward.

Socially inclusive development: Stories from African cities

Urban climate action should benefit all the residents of a city. ICLEI Africa is championing urban environmental justice by engaging communities, co-creating climate and nature-based solutions and developing demand responsive recommendations for socially inclusive policy.

Urban Natural Assets for Africa (UNA) Programme | Impact & lessons learnt

Over 80 multi-actor dialogues. 2000-plus stakeholders. 10 implementation components. Countless action plans and policy reviews. These are the figures that define ICLEI Africa’s Urban Natural Assets for Africa (UNA) programme. But in looking back, the numbers are only a small part of the story. UNA’s real impacts are as dynamic, far-reaching and layered as the programme itself. Below we highlight the various impacts as well as key lessons and a selection of resources that have been learnt and developed over the years.

Updates from our global office

Updates from our global office Launch of the ICLEI World Congress and ICLEI Malmö Strategy 2021-2027

Hosted by ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability and the City of Malmö, Sweden, the ICLEI World Congress is the moment for local and regional governments to come together to celebrate and recognise the critical contributions of cities, towns and regions towards a sustainable future. The 2021-2022 edition is a multi-part event.
➤ 13-15 April 2021: Virtual Launch of the ICLEI World Congress. Announcement of the ICLEI Malmö Strategy 2021-2027 and ICLEI Malmö Action Plan 2021-2024. Read more.
➤ Throughout 2021: The Road to Malmö. A series of high-level virtual events. See the schedule.
➤ 11-13 May 2022. The Malmö Summit. An in-person summit – as far as the global health crisis permits – on the best practices in local sustainable development. Launch of The Malmö Declaration, inviting local and regional governments to advance equitable sustainable development.

ICLEI elects new global leadership

In conjunction with the ICLEI World Congress 2021 – 2022, ICLEI’s Members elected the organisation’s new leadership, who were announced during a special pre-event session of the inaugural ICLEI GexCom-Council Meeting on 12 April 2021. Two of our African mayors, who serve on our Regional Executive Committee (RexCom), serve on the ICLEI GexCom. See the full leadership.

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