Council of Europe INGOs Conference round table on 26 April ‘Let’s talk local: cities and citizens in the fight against climate change”

Council of Europe INGOs Conference round table on 26 April ‘Let’s talk local: cities and citizens in the fight against climate change”

Council of Europe INGOs Conference round table on 26 April ‘Let’s talk local: cities and citizens in the fight against climate change” organised by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities

The climate crisis and its environmental, social and economic consequences constitute a major challenge for our societies. Cities and citizens are in the front line in the face of the climate emergency. They are hard hit by global warming and climate change, which exacerbates extreme weather events and increases the risk of climatic disasters (drought, floods, pollution etc.). While the attractiveness of cities is an important contributor to climate change, many municipalities have understood the need to foster the development of low-carbon and climate-resilient cities, and have committed to a more environmentally friendly model that tries to cope with climate change.Environmental protection is a central issue at all levels of governance. However, local authorities are key actor sin combating climate change and can partly offset the inaction of certain governments.Local democracy plays a fundamental role in raising awareness of the climate issue, but also in solving the concrete problems of citizens and businesses. Local elected representatives are aware of the specificities of communities and can influence many factors related to climate change, from local production and consumption patterns to land and energy use planning, private and public transport choices, etc.

Local
democracy is a key element in the development of a sustainable development strategy,not to mention that it is mainly at the local and regional level that citizens are mobilising to call for concrete environmental action.

For several years now, we have seen
numerous climate marches and citizen mobilisation around the world. This indicates a real desire on the part of society to make up for the government inaction. The global movement for climate justice is growing, and citizens everywhere are going to court to protect their rights, those of future generations and of nature. This is why local authorities must integrate civil society in the process of finding adequate local responses to the climate crisis.

Faced with the need to integrate local authorities in the development of national and international climate
strategies, local elected representatives can rely on the support of European-level organisations working with local and regional authorities in order to defend and amplify their voice at the international level and make local initiatives in the fight against climate change visible.

In the framework of the World Forum for
Democracy, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities is organising a webinar on“let’s talk local: cities and citizens in the fight against climate changewhich will present successful local and regional initiatives for sustainability and green transition, highlighting projects with strong citizen participation. The workshop will be a space to exchange good practices and brainstorm about new opportunities at local and regional level.

IFLA Europe Honorary Member and member of the Council of Europe Working Group Michael Oldham participated in this event on behalf of IFLA Europe and reported the following:

The role of the Congress was reconfirmed as being concerned with human rights, democracy and the rule of law; the three main tenets of the Council of Europe. Various
representatives of local authorities and municipalities in Europe gave examples of their current plans. The conference confirmed the view that the ‘climate crisis and its environmental, social and economic consequences constitute a major challenge for our societies. Cities and citizens are in the front line in the face of the climate emergency. They are hard hit by global warming and climate change, which exacerbates extreme weather events and increases the risk of climatic disasters (drought, floods, pollution etc.). While the attractiveness of cities is an important contributor to climate change, many municipalities have understood the need to foster the development of low-carbon and climate-resilient cities, and have committed to a more environmentally friendly model that tries to cope with climate change’.

Environmental protection clearly remains a central issue at all levels of governance. However, it is also clear that some local authorities are able to become key actors in combating climate change and can partly offset the inaction of certain governments. Local democracy plays a fundamental role in raising awareness of the climate issue, but also in solving the concrete problems of citizens and businesses.

Our representative Michael Oldham, IFLA Europe Honorary Member and member of the Council of Europe Working Group osted the following statement the fo the Conference,

Conference of the European Landscape Convention 26-27 May2021

A paper entitled ‘Urban Landscapes and Climate Change,’The contribution of Landscape Architects to improve the quality of life,’ will be presented at the above conference.

The report’s key message is clear. To improve the quality of life for city dwellers, providing unpolluted air, reducing the desire to escape to the countryside, providing recreation space, combating climate change in its many manifestations, etc we have to invest much more in landscape. We must employ more nature-based solutions, which are so much cheaper than building, whilst providing resilience and sustainability. We need to re-imagine cities with interlinked natural corridors providing an alternative network of open space to roads. And, to do this intelligently, rather than just designing pretty patterns on the ground, we need to employ a detailed knowledge of plant communities and ecology, soil structure, the links between topography and drainage and so much more, if long-term green infrastructure planning has any chance of sustainability and success.

We also need to make access to the expertise of Landscape Architects much easier and more available. Unfortunately, in some countries Landscape Architects are still restricted in their area of practice and influence. This is clearly not in the public interest and raises questions concerning Human Rights in respect of professional discrimination as well as access for the public to this area of expertise.



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