Mayors Adaptation Forum

Mayors Adaptation Forum concludes with 2011 Bonn Declaration of Mayors and calls for bottom-up climate action and finance

BONN/Germany – Over 30 mayors have discussed the climate challenge with a focus on the adaptation to climate impacts and the financing gap that their cities are facing at the Mayors Adaptation Forum that is part of the Resilient Cities congress. Special guests, sharing with the Mayors their expertise, were Andrew Steer of the World Bank, Christiana Figueres of the UNFCCCUN-HABITAT’s Joan Clos and Michel Liès of SwissRe,

At the current level of commitments from governments, 200 billion US dollars will be available for climate change adaptation funding over the next 20 years. However, according to UNFCCC estimates up to 67 billion US dollars will be needed annually by 2030.

To cover the lack of adaptation funding there needs to be a change in global financing mechanisms and acknowledgement that the majority of the costs of adaptation will be borne by urban areas.

In short, an inversion of global adaptation financing is needed. The current top-down approach in funding needs to be replaced by a locally orientated demand-driven approach. In the meantime, local governments have to 'climatize' their urban development policies, as recommended by Christiana Figueres (UNFCCC). 

A white paper on ‘Financing the Resilient City’, was launched at ICLEI’s Resilient Cities 2011 congress in Bonn, Germany. It identifies shortfalls in the global funding structures for adaptation, and sets out innovative ways to overcome them.

Jeb Brugmann, author of the white paper, says: “What is needed is to build on local expertise and institutions and fund what is needed locally, rather than conventional global financing mechanisms determining what local action is eligible for funding.”

The Chair of the World Mayors Council on Climate Change and Mexico City’s Mayor Marcelo Ebrard underlines: “The architecture that is available now is not working. Why? Because it is not designed to help the cities; it is designed to work with the national governments.” Communities should be involved in the decision making and delivery of local adaptation action as well, argues Mayor Didas Massaburi of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

“The challenge for the international architecture is to let go of the command and control wish over climate funds”, confirms Paul Clements-Hunt, Head of the UNEP Finance Initiative.

The white paper also puts forward the idea that financing mechanisms have to be broadened to allow for more private investments in addition to existing global climate funds. Andrew Steer, the World Bank’s Special Envoy for Climate Change, supports this idea: “We have got to be more imaginative in our environmental financing, managing to make things more comfortable for investors, and maximizing returns”.

Herbert Bautista, Mayor of Quezon City, Philippines, said his city is already working on long term projects on vulnerability and risk assessment for example with the World Bank, but that additional resources need to be made available for implementing actions.

Presented by the Mayor of Bonn and Vice Chair of the World Mayors Council on Climate Change, the 2011 Bonn Declaration of Mayors advocates for the implementation of the following findings of the white paper.

  • Mainstreaming new adaptation and resilience standards into conventional urban development projects.
  • Developing specialized financial instruments for comprehensive local adaptation and resilience upgrading projects in urban areas.
  • Building additional local institutional capacity to prepare, structure and manage large scale redevelopment.

A key element in transforming financing mechanisms to be demand-driven is to make local climate action measurable, reportable and verifiable (MRV). MRV for local action allows cities to identify which climate actions are most efficient and effective, and therefore most attractive to funders. The Mexico City Pact and its reporting mechanism, the carbonn Cities Climate Registry (cCCR) are enabling cities to make firm commitments, and to measure and report their climate change actions.

During the Forum, the cities of Oeiras (Portugal), Almada (Portugal), Quezon (Philippines), Kampala Kawempe (Uganda), Suwon (South Korea), and Kaohsiung (Chinese Taipei) signed the Mexico City Pact to reach 191 signatories. Mayors also called for more cities to join and to report their climate data to the cCCR.

C40 and ICLEI have also drafted a global standard for accounting and reporting greenhouse gas emissions to boost cities’ ability to access funding and implement actions.

Many of the world’s cities are already feeling the effects of climate change such as more powerful and frequent storms, longer dry seasons and droughts, and more severe flooding. Because of this, the world’s cities and local governments are also at the forefront of adaptation and resilience building. They put the topic of adaptation finance and global reporting in the center of their advocacy towards the COP 17 in Durban and will continue to advocate in the future.

Access the ICLEI white paper ‘Financing the Resilient City’ here

Download the Bonn Declaration of Mayors, the outcome document of the Mayors Adaptation Forum.

Photos of Resilient Cities 2011 and the Mayors Adaptation Forum 2011 can be found on

Mayors Adaptation Forum

From right to left: Ebard (Mexico City/WMCCC), Cadman (ICLEI), Molin Valdes (UNISDR)

The Mayors Adaptation Forum 2011 (MAF) forms the Mayors' segment of the Resilient Cities 2011 congress. Elaborating on top of the technical discussions, local decision-makers back the congress with their political leadership

Local leaders from Mexico City, Bonn, Dar es Salaam, Copenhagen, Harare, Suwon City, Quezon City, Lagos State, Jerusalem, Kampala are already confirmed.

Visit the event webpage here.

Under the leadership of the World Mayors Council on Climate Change through the Mayors of Bonn and Mexico City, the 2011 Forum's discussions focus on:

  • bottom-up financing for urban adaptation
  • global climate reporting from local governments with a specific focus on adaptation actions

Special guests of the Mayors Adaptation Forum include:

  • Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary, UNFCCC
  • Margareta Wahlström, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction
  • Joan Clos, Executive Director, UN-HABITAT

The Forum connects local leaders to global decision-makers (international, national, business) dealing with adaptation. The outcomes of the Forum will be directly conveyed to the climate negotiators present at the June 2011 session of the UN climate talks in Bonn which immediately follow the Resilient Cities congress.

The Forum will conclude with the 2011 Bonn Declaration of Mayors.

Who can attend?

The attendance to the Mayors Adaptation Forum is upon invitation. If you are a Mayor, Governor or other relevant local leader and want to participate please contact us.

Previous edition

For its first edition in 2010, the Forum drew more than twenty local decision-makers from five continents among which were Mayors and Governors from Mexico City, Bonn, Durban, Chennai, Albay, Saint Louis, Jerusalem.

As concrete outcomes, the Forum released the 2010 Bonn Declaration and paved the way for the World Mayors Summit on Climate 2010 in Mexico City.

Go to Resilient Cities 2010 website.