Human activities contribute a significant and growing proportion of global greenhouse gas emissions, with the increased demand for energy and other services in urban areas – also driven by rapid population growth – exacerbating the climate challenge. It is time for change! We need action that will substantially contribute to the Paris Agreements climate targets, to stay well below 1.5 Degrees Celsius.

The Urban-LEDS II project will guide local governments to implement integrated low emission and resilient development, offering guidance, tools and technical assistance, mobilizing cities to commit to the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy (GCoM), exploring access to financing and supporting multilevel governance to enable effective action. The project will also support the improvement of effective monitoring and reporting systems; this is referred to as integrated MRV (Measuring, Reporting and Verifying), and is vital to track progress and raise ambition at all scales.

As a result of intensive advocacy effort over decades, local governments are now recognized as “governmental stakeholders” in the Paris Agreement, and have their own place in the negotiation, thanks to the Local Governments and Municipal Authorities (LGMA) constituency, led by ICLEI. Their planning and implementation of climate action, thus, will not only lead to local benefits, but will also support national plans and effectively contribute to global climate change mitigation, adaptation and access to secure, affordable and sustainable energy, as well as resulting in multiple local benefits.

An Urban Low Emissions Development Strategy (Urban LEDS) defines a pathway to transition a city to a low emission, resilient, green and inclusive urban economy, through its integration into existing city development plans and processes.

Low Emission Development Strategies (LEDS) are:

  • “indispensable to sustainable development.” (The Copenhagen Accord of 2009)
  • “integrated climate and (low emission) development government strategies that cover the intersection of development and greenhouse gas mitigation.” (ERC, 2011)
  • “economic development plans or strategies that encompass low emission and/or climate resilient economic growth.” (OECD, 2010)

“Every city in the world, regardless of location, size or income, has a strong incentive to become low-carbon and climate change resilient. By adopting and integrating Low Emission Development Strategies, aided by effective urban planning, we can chart a pathway to achieving the New Urban Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals. UN-Habitat is excited by its partnership with ICLEI through the EC-funded Urban-LEDS II project, which will explore the possibility for towns and cities to become healthy, inclusive and competitive, while curbing their greenhouse gas emissions.”

Ms Maimunah Mohd Sharif, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director, UN-Habitat

“Climate change continues to move faster than our efforts to address it. Cities are growing rapidly. More than half the world’s population is now urban, and that proportion is increasing. Today, cities are at the forefront of climate action. I urge you to set ambitious targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Join communities of local leaders, share your experiences and commit to change. Together let us bend the emissions curve downwards for a sustainable future for all.”

António Guterres, UN Secretary-General during the ICLEI World Congress