Fifty sub-national government heads gather to catalyze sustainable development at the World Summit of States and Regions

20 June 2012

RIO DE JANEIRO: On June 19, 2012, over 50 political senior representatives of leading sub-national governments gathered in the Athletes Park in Rio de Janeiro for the World Summit of States and Regions in connection with the Rio+20 conference. They committed to the Rio Declaration of States and Regions for a new paradigm of sustainable development which was handed over to Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres from the UNFCCC. We also presented its States and Regions Clean Revolution Leadership Report and the States and Regions Clean Revolution Statement of its States and Regions Alliance. We also announced a new carbon disclosure partnership for the sub-national government level, which nine regions will pilot.

The day’s events were hosted by the Government of Rio State, nrg4SD and The Climate Group. First to speak at the Opening Ceremony was Governor Cabral from Rio State, followed by Premier Charest, Quebec, who stated that most low carbon progress over the past 20 years was down to sub-national governments, and that this level of government will continue to forge the way forward. He stressed: “Any agreement on climate change or the green agenda requires direct engagement of federated states and regional governments.”

Other speakers at the opening session included Minister Recoder, Catalonia; Minister Paul Caica, South Australia; Governor Alckmin, Sao Paulo State and Minister Pilar Unzalu, Basque Country. Minister Paul Caica, South Australia, talked about sub-national governments’ pivotal task highlighted by the Declaration. He said: “We must act as a catalyst for global engagement”, before explaining how proud the state was to be part of the Clean Revolution.

Minister Unzalu emphasized that the Clean Revolution is one of the most ambitious global initiatives in support of a low carbon economy, and highlighted the Basque Country’s experiences with public-private partnerships as one of the keys to its success.

Members of The Climate Group are critical to The Clean Revolution Campaign, which was launched yesterday with business and government leaders including Tony Blair, HRH Prince Albert II and the World Bank’s Andrew Steer.

Formulating their own specific contribution to achieving the goals set out in the Rio Declaration, the members of The Climate Group’s States and Regions Alliance have additionally adopted the States and Regions Clean Revolution Statement. Following on with its tradition of joint commitments, the Statement focuses on key areas of engagement within The Climate Group, namely sustainable transport, energy efficiency, smart technologies and renewable energy.

Christiana Figueres, Executive Director, UNFCCC, accepted the Rio Declaration on behalf of the UN and recognized the important role and already existing actions of sub-national governments. She urged the gathered leaders to take even more advantage of their unique opportunity to pioneer global low carbon efforts. She said: “States and Regions must incubate new ideas to see what works, and what can be replicated at scale; help expand wider ambition. Create a ‘race to the top’ and compete in a healthy way with each other." She warned: "Don’t shy away from leading the Clean Revolution.”

Christiana Figueres listed commitments, metrics and learning as the three key pillars needed to “be most effective in pushing and pulling the Clean Revolution in a cost effective way”.

Mike Rann, former Premier of South Australia shares her view that sub-national governments can act as ‘incubators’ of scalable projects. As he opened the first panel which he was moderating, he enthusiastically called state and regional governments “laboratories for change” and reiterated their game-changing role: “50-80% of the action on climate change happen at this level of government”.

Scotland’s Minister for Environment and Climate Change, Stewart Stevenson, demonstrated this power when he listed the country’s many low carbon achievements - including owning Europe’s biggest wind farm. He ended his speech by affirming a core message of the Clean Revolution: “The right thing for the climate is the right thing for the economy.”

Premier Dr Z L Mkhize fromKwaZulu-Natal and Vice-President Frédéric Cadet from La Reunion, both recently joined members of The Climate Group, were keen to share their own successes and ambitious targets for the future, while longer-standing member representatives Secretary Raúl Omar González Castilla, Quintana Roo and Premier Greg Selinger, Manitoba reinforced their aims to drive the low carbon economy via “test-bed” innovation.

Québec Premier, Jean Charest said: "Federated states and regional governments have often shown to other international actors how possible and desirable it is to link economic development with environmental protection and the fight against climate change. Through its best practices sharing initiatives, the Alliance allows federated states and regional governments to accelerate the transition to a clean revolution."

The second panel moderated by Luc Bas, Director International States and Regions, The Climate Group, saw Vice President Dominique Ramard, Brittany, Vice President Alain Chabrolle, Rhone-Alpes, Minister John Griffith, Wales, Rainer van Loon, EnergyAgency.NRW and Executive Director Joan Clos, UN Habitat discuss energy and transportation.

Minister John Griffiths focused on energy, namely in Welsh homes and industry. He said that because Wales had built many energy efficient new homes and retrofitted buildings in more deprived areas through the ‘arbed’ initiative, it is “marrying up our biggest priorities: sustainable development and social justice”.

In the New Metrics and Indicators session, The Climate Group, Carbon Disclosure Project and R20 announced a partnership to initiate a carbon disclosure initiative for States and Regions.

The program will allow governments to consistently benchmark, monitor and report their climate actions. Nine states and regions are already signed up to participate in the pilot: Catalonia, Basque Country, British Columbia, Catalonia, Chiapas, North Rhine Westphalia, Quebec, Sao Paulo and South Australia.

Mark Kenber, CEO, The Climate Group said:”There is a clear need for better consistency of climate action reporting among States and regions and is a logical consequence from earlier business and city reporting initiatives. Not only will it enable states and regions to lower emissions, it will also provide examples of Clean Revolution leadership for other states and regions to follow.”

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