Published on Sustainable Cities

Cities Act as Talks Go On

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Bill Clinton and C40 Mayors

Yesterday in downtown Rio, in Forte de Copacabana, there was an entirely different atmosphere than at the Rio+20 negotiations out in Rio’s suburbs. The public — some waiting as long as three hours — filed through the city’s impressive expo on sustainable development. The festive and hopeful mood of school-children and local ‘Cairiocas’ seemed to buoy the mood of the mayors and officials in the main auditorium.

Some 2000 guests looked on as mayors and their friends like Bill Clinton (via video conference), national government, business and World Bank representatives launched a new initiative to reduce methane emissions though solid waste management. The C40 Solid Waste Network in partnership with the World Bank will focus on providing cities with technical assistance to develop projects that reduce methane gas production.

VP Rachel Kyte speaks at Rio+20 C40 meetingPresident Clinton said the notion that the governments and businesses must embrace a pollution-filled status quo in order to thrive economically is changing fast. He cited the movement in cities as a major part of that.

“Waste management may not be glamorous, but it has an enormous impact on our efforts to mitigate climate change,” he said, calling the partnership a sign that “sustainable development is the only development.”

We often hear ‘countries talk, cities act’. International negotiations are difficult. Although this may not be enough, it is good to remember that despite  —  or perhaps in support of — international agreements that may or may not happen, every Monday morning cities will be there picking up the garbage, improving slums, providing water, trying to untangle the traffic and provide a nurturing quality of life for all citizens.

Cities — leading by doing.

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Dan Hoornweg

Professor and Jeff Boyce Research Chair, University of Ontario Institute of Technology

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