[You are here: News > Press Release ]

Press Release

New Report Highlights Raft of Inspiring Examples of Transformative Actions by Cities and Local Governments
16/ 06/ 2012

New Report Highlights Raft of Inspiring Examples of Transformative Actions by Cities and Local GovernmentsPolicies Can Be Replicated and Upscaled to Help World Realize Green Economy, Says Report

Rio de Janeiro, 16 June 2012 - A raft of transformative and inspiring policies by cities and local governments, which can assist in creating a sustainable 21st century, were spotlighted in a new report released today by ICLEI - Local Government for Sustainability and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

Global Environment Outlook 5 (GEO-5) for Local Government cites dozens of policies, from Cap and Trade systems in Tokyo to environmental management in Windhoek, Namibia, that show transformative action at a local level can feed into global goals and slow or halt environmental degradation

The report says that local government has played a central role in sustainable development and shaping the transition to a Green Economy, and makes recommendations that can support their work and help transfer their successful policies to other cities and countries.

The study is a companion report to GEO-5, a recently released comprehensive assessment of the state of the environment coordinated by UNEP.

The GEO-5 report cautions that if humanity does not urgently change its unsustainable patterns of production and consumption of natural resources, then governments will preside over unprecedented levels of damage and degradation.

Cities and local governments, which already experience many environmental strains, will face further challenges as a result, particularly in face of growing populations and urbanization, which GEO-5 identified as a key driver of environmental change.

Energy security, access to water and sanitation and biodiversity can all be adversely affected by growing cities unless local governments factor them into their planning for cities sprawling ever outwards.

Despite the challenges, cities and local governments have been at the centre of efforts to respond to environmental change even as the global and national response remains weak.

"The world is rich in local policies, initiatives and projects, and in the absence of strong international action, their responses represent beacons of hope," said UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner. "For example, climate change was a focal point for local action even before the introduction of international climate mechanisms."

GEO-5 said that meeting an ambitious set of sustainability targets by the middle of the century is possible if current policies and strategies are changed and strengthened. Many of the examples of success in the report were carried out at a local level in the world's cities and towns, where over half of the global population resides.
ICLEI builds on these case studies in the report for local authorities, which highlights the best policies and calls for cities and local governments to continue to take action. To speed-up realization of sustainable development and the internationally agreed goals, local government must be supported by global and national leadership on the environment.
"Cities and local governments play an important role in providing examples that can be replicated, and so their contribution to meeting goals and targets should be recognized as crucial," said Konrad Otto-Zimmermann, Secretary General of ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability. "They are already showing that radical changes are possible, and world leaders can build upon these achievements at Rio+20."
Some of the examples of successful policies and actions by cities and local governments highlighted in the report follow:

A public-private partnership in Pangkalpinang, Indonesia, has transformed an old tin-mining area into a botanical garden with new ecological services, including water supplies, for local communities
Tokyo has developed a Green Cap and Trade System in addition to  a Green Buildings programme to reduce carbon emissions by a quarter by 2020, compared to 2000 levels
Bonn, Germany, is promoting the purchase of sustainable goods and services, acting as a catalyst for the greening of supply chains beyond the city limits
Bogota, Colombia, has pioneered creative and integrated land-use planning and is well-known for its bus rapid-transit system
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, has applied integrated coastal management by establishing urban development boundaries - setting aside critical areas and designating non-developments zones
San Jose, United States, has introduced a green building policy to reduce energy and water consumption in new residential, commercial and industrial construction projects
The city council in Windhoek, Namibia, introduced an environmental management plan to protect the water supply at the Goreangab Dam from contamination by a burgeoning informal settlement.

Conclusions and Recommendations
The report identifies local authorities as playing a crucial role in implementing multilateral environment agreements, facilitating the transition of cities' economies to green urban economies and also setting more ambitious sustainable development goals and targets.
It makes the following specific recommendations:

Global goals, which should be measurable, need to be complemented by regional, national and local goals
National governments need to be locally responsive by amending institutional, procedural or other arrangements and by providing the legal, technical or financial support required on the ground
Where goals, targets and national directives are absent, local governments should still take action to support the development of national-level objectives
Local capacity and enabling conditions are needed to promote sustainable urban development, particularly where rapid urbanization is taking place
Organizational, institutional, legal and political structures and processes that promote planning and implementation are needed to prevent environmental degradation and build urban and community resilience.

Notes to Editors

The full GEO-5 for Local Authorities report is available here: http://www.unep.org/geo/pdfs/geo5/UNEP-ICLEI-GEO-5.pdf
GEO-5 is the most authoritative assessment of the state, trends and outlook of the global environment. The report was produced over three years in a process that involved more than six hundred experts worldwide, who collated and analyzed data from every continent to build up a detailed picture of the world's wellbeing. For more information, including the full report and press release, go here: http://www.unep.org/geo/geo5.asp

For more information, please contact:
In Brazil:
Nick Nuttall, UNEP Division of Communication and Public Information Acting Director and Spokesperson, Tel. +55 11 6593 8058 +254 733 632 755, e-mail: nick.nuttall@unep.org
Katrina Borromeo, ICLEI World Secretariat, on Tel +49 228 976299-00, Email media@iclei.org

Alejandro Laguna, +55 21 6912 5825, alex.laguna@unep.org
Amanda Talamonte, UNEP Brazil Office, Phone: +55 61 3038 9237, Email: comunicacao@pnuma.org
At UNEP HQ, Nairobi:
Shereen Zorba, Head, UNEP News Desk, and Tel. 254 788 526 000, or e-mail: shereen.zorba@unep.org

Further Resources
UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20)
Global Environment Outlook-5
Global Environment Outlook-5 Press Release
Download Full Report



University of Finland and UNEP - 12th Course on Multilateral Environmental Agreements
2-12 November 2015, Shanghai, China

The Special theme of the Twelfth Course is Climate Change.

2nd UNEP-INTERPOL Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Committee Conference
16-17 November 2015, INTERPOL Global Complex for Innovation, Singapore

At the 2nd ECEC in Singapore, INTERPOL and UNEP brought together Chief Executives from Environmental Security and Enforcement agencies from INTERPOL member countries, as well as Chief Executive Officers from international and non-governmental organizations, to design and debate strategies to tackle environmental crime and achieve sustainable development goals.

Annual Meeting UNEP- EUROCLIMA (EC Programme to support Policy Dialogue on Climate Change issues in Latin American countries)

Special session of the Commission on Environment of the PARLATINO(Latin American Parliament) on Climate Change law.

27-28 October 2015, Panama

Global Training Programme on Environmental Law and Policy for Mid-career Government Officials

05-13 October 2015, Nairobi, Kenya

Meeting of the Senior Government Officials Expert in Environmental Law on Mid-term review of the Montevideo Programme IV

7-11 September 2015, Montevideo, Uruguay

Montevideo Programme Environmental Law Seminar: Laws to Promote environmental sustainability of oceans and seas
9-10 July, Panama City, Panama

Montevideo Programme Environmental Law Seminar: Legal Foundation for Environmental Sustainability

13-14 July 2015, United Nations Headquarters, New York

Meeting of Eminent Legal Experts on the Midterm review of the Montevideo Programme IV

15-16 July 2015, United Nations Headquarters, New York

Regional Training on Negotiations for Multilateral Environmental Agreements Focusing on UNFCCC and CBD as they relate to Regional Seas Convention
11-13 May 2015, Jeddah Kingdom, Saudi Arabia

Meeting of Climate Change Negotiators of Latin America and the Caribbean
14-15 May 2015, Santiago de Chile 

Regional Meeting of negotiators in preparation for Climate Change multilateral negotiators (exchange of views and discussion of key topics for the region towards COP21)

International Day for Biological Diversity 2015
22 May 2015

Biodiversity for Sustainable Development

This year’s theme reflects the importance of efforts made at all levels to establish a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as part of the United Nations Post-2015 Development Agenda for the period of 2015-2030 and the relevance of biodiversity for the achievement of sustainable development.

Launch of The UNEP Sourcebook 

officially launched at a side event in the margins of Ramsar COP 12 - 8 June 2015, Punta del Este, Uruguay

The aim of the Sourcebook is to provide National Focal Points of the major Biodiversity-related Conventions as well as other stakeholders working on these conventions, with options to achieve enhanced implementation of the conventions through enhanced cooperation.

Preparatory Workshops for Paris UNFCCC COP for 2015 for Least Developed countries

June 2015, Bonn, Germany

Second Congress on Environmental Policy, Law and Justice Seminar on Environmental Crimes

6-10 July 2015, La Habana, Cuba

Inter-American Congress on the Environmental Rule of Law(OAS website)
30-31 March 2015, Montego Bay, Jamaica 

The Organization of American States (OAS) co-organized the First Inter-American Congress on the Environmental Rule of Law in Montego Bay, Jamaica, an event that concluded with a call to strengthen the rule of law on to address environmental challenges in the Americas.

Environmental Justice and Sustainable Development

4 May 2015, UN Headquarters, New York, Conference Room 11