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Localizing SDG13: Cities Leading on Climate Action through the Voluntary Local Review

Apr 20 2021, 14:00 BST - Apr 20 2021, 15:00 BST

Apr 20 2021, 09:00 EDT - Apr 20 2021, 10:00 EDT

Hosted by ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability with the Connected Cities Lab, University of Melbourne

In cities across the United States and around the world, a movement is growing for integrated climate approaches—those that bring considerations for nature, equity, circularity, resilience and more into the planning process alongside emissions reduction. The United Nations' 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) offer one framework for ensuring integrated approaches that inform SDG 13 on climate action. Since New York City released the world's first Voluntary Local Review of the SDGs, or VLR, in 2018, dozens of cities have signed the NYC Declaration and begun issuing their city-level contribution to the Global Goals.

Join ICLEI in partnership with the Connected Cities Lab at University of Melbourne during U.S. Climate Week for a discussion on the SDG Cities Challenge, a city-to-city cohort learn-do model that is scaling VLR adoption through international city-to-city collaboration. We will be joined by representatives of leading U.S. cities Pittsburgh and Orlando, alongside a cadre of Texas communities represented by University of Texas at Arlington. You will learn how these cities are putting the VLRs to work advancing climate action through sustainability data, cross-departmental collaboration, community involvement and finance.


Dr. Cathy Oke, Enterprise Senior Fellow in Informed Cities, Connected Cities Lab, University of Melbourne. Dr Cathy Oke is Melbourne Enterprise Senior Fellow in Informed Cities at the Connected Cities Lab, Faculty of Architecture Building and Planning. She has considerable international and local expertise in sustainable, resilient and liveable cities.  Cathy's research interests focus on the interaction between urban research, policy and practice for greater impact in cities. She is project leader of the SDGs Cities Challenge, and Senior Advisor to the Innovate4Cities program of the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy. Cathy was a Councillor at the City of Melbourne 2008 – 2020, and is the Portfolio lead of Global Research Strategy – ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability and Co-chair of the Cities With Nature Knowledge & Research Hub.

Meghna Tare, Chief Sustainability Officer at University of Texas at Arlington and ICLEI USA Board Member. Meghna is a sustainability leader with a track record for setting ambitious goals, guiding strategies, developing and executing plans. As UT Arlington’s first Chief Sustainability Officer, she drives initiatives by fostering partnerships between academic, research, and operational departments. She has spearheaded launching a Regional Center of Expertise for Education in Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in North Texas, a program of the United Nations University, and the Institute for Sustainability and Global Impact at UT Arlington. Meghna serves as a Board Director of ICLEI USA among her board roles. She is a TEDx speaker, was featured as the Women in CSR, awarded Women of the Decade in Corporate Social Responsibility by the Women Economic Forum, and 2020 Women in Sustainability-Transformational Leader by Wells Fargo/Envision Charlotte.

Christopher Castro, Director of the Office of Sustainability and Resilience, City of Orlando. Chris serves as the Senior Advisor to Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Director of Sustainability & Resilience, and 'Future-Ready' steering committee member at the City of Orlando -- developing a comprehensive set of policies & programs that has turned Orlando into one of the leading cities in America accelerating sustainability, resiliency, and climate action. Chris is best known for his entrepreneurial efforts prior to coming to the City, including co-founder and President of the global sustainability nonprofit, IDEAS For Us, a clean energy consulting firm Citizen Energy, and a renowned urban farming social enterprise Fleet Farming. In 2020, Chris also joined partners to launch ‘Climate First Bank’, the first B-Corp community bank in Florida working to advance ESG and local sustainable investing. Outside of work, Chris serves on many nonprofit and academic boards, including the UCF Energy Research Center, US Green Building Council of Florida, Project Greenschools, and Goodwill Industries of Central Florida. In December 2018, Chris starred in the National Geographic documentary on climate change called "Paris to Pittsburgh" to share the Orlando journey on climate action to millions of people around the World.

Grant Ervin, Sustainability Manager, City of Pittsburgh. Grant drives strategy creation and execution of citywide sustainability and resilience initiatives for the City of Pittsburgh. He leads environmental, social and governance reporting activities, fosters cross-sector and intra departmental partnerships and creates value for residents. Over the past 6 years he has helped set ambitious carbon reduction targets, built city-wide and district scale resilience strategies and crafted innovative decision support products, while leading a variety of social, environmental and economic development activities.

Amelia Leavesley, Social Change Research Fellow, Urban Sustainability at the Connected Cities Lab. Amelia is an academic and communications consultant who brings a passion for sustainability and meaningful engagement. She holds a BSc (Engineering and Environmental Science) and recently completed a Master of Environment at the University of Melbourne, specialising in urban sustainability and social change. Amelia is on the project steering committee and the research team for the SDG Cities Challenge; a global collaborative research project for cities and their urban partners, led by the Connected Cities Lab. Her thesis, titled Sustainable transitions in cities: local transformation in an urbanising world, explores the transformative potential for SDGs in cities.

Kale Roberts, Senior Program Officer, ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability USA. Kale provides technical assistance to local governments throughout the United States on city-scale greenhouse gas emissions inventories, sustainability planning and the UN Sustainable Development Goals, biodiversity, community resilience and climate adaptation. He is a former intern and program support consultant with the United Nations Development Programme’s Climate Change Adaptation Team in the Bangkok Regional Hub and was renewable energy beat editor for Mother Earth News, North America's leading sustainable-living magazine. From 2010-2012, Kale served as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand. He received an M.S. in Climate Science and Policy as a Rachel Carson Scholar at the Bard Center for Environmental Policy and a B.S. in Environmental Science from Humboldt State University.