Nov 17, 2017

Launch of Front-Line Cities and Islands: uniting islands and coastal cities for resilience

Mayors and leaders of islands at the front-line of climate change, from the President of Palau to Mayor of Cozumel (Mexico) came together with mayors and leaders of cities around the world to join forces in taking action to address climate change and build resilience through the launch of Front-line cities and islands at COP23, the 23rd United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany.

Front-line is championed by COP23 Presidency  Fiji with the Presidents of Palau and Seychelles, Prime Minister of Grenada, Premier of British Virgin Islands as the Leaders of the Global Island Partnership and mayors and leaders of ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability including Cozumel and Auckland to elevate the importance of sustainable urbanization in building resilience across islands and lay the groundwork for targeted and joint action across all islands.

Photo: President Tommy E. Remengesau Jr. of Palau on behalf of GLISPA Leaders together with the Mayor Perla Cecilia Tun Pech of Cozumel (GLISPA member), Assistant Minister Lorna Eden of Fiji, UN Special Envoy on Oceans Peter Thompson, Steve Gawler and Yunus Arikan of ICLEI (centre right to right): Councillor Penny Hulse of Auckland Council, BMZ Franz Marré and the Mayor of Honiara Andrew Mua united in climate and resilience action and solutions.

The President of Palau, Tommy E. Remengesau Jr., launched Front-line stressing the importance of partnerships and collaboration across boundaries. “The voyage to a resilient and sustainable future is not one that is taken alone but by a movement of cities, states, islands and countries working together to shape the future we want,” said the president. “After all, we are all in one boat and heading in the same direction.”

Islands are often recognized for being at the front-line of climate change impacts however they are also at the front-line of spearheading integrated solutions to climate change and sustainable development. Palau itself is strengthening the resilience of marine ecosystems, Hawaii was an early mover on climate and sustainability and Cozumel has shown leadership on sustainable, smart development.

Mayor Perla Tun Pech of Cozumel, Mexico highlighted that it is critical to devise and implement solutions locally, while empowering local governments to take action. “We are here to unite our voices and thereby generate co-responsibility and commitment with the inhabitants of the world,” said the mayor.

“The involvement of national governments is needed to support local government efforts,” said Assistant Minister for Local Government, Lorna Eden, Fiji. This is particularly important in island states, where local governments are closely linked to the national level, and are less economically independent than local governments in other, larger nations.

Franz Marré, Head of the Division of Water, Urban Development and Mobility at BMZ, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, and Peter Thompson, United Nations Special Envoy on Oceans, also voiced support for the initiative.

Front-Line Cities and Islands is a movement that pushes forward on collaboration, joint action and global mobilization on adaptation and mitigation. Going forward, the Front-Line Cities and Islands will:

  • Cultivate city-to- city and island-to-island learning and strategic partnerships.
  • Determine priority issues that cities and islands can work on together.
  • Identify island leadership and practical solutions that can be shared.
  • Identify and develop funding sources and financing mechanisms for the long term.
  • Promote dialogue and agreement to implement innovative resilience solutions.

Among the first pairings is between Lautoka, Fiji and Bonn, Germany, host city of COP23 who will work together to address the vulnerabilities of our islands, our cities and their inhabitants.

Article by GLISPA (Global Island Partnership), 16 November 2017