Does Your Mayor Support Sustainable Development Programs or Local Control?

Post by:  Liz Froelich

...your community could belong to one of these groups that believe that the most important action its citizens and residents can take is to reduce their carbon footprint and carbon emissions.  That equates into fewer car lanes, more bike lanes, and concentrated, high density housing developments known as transit villages in downtown areas

Global Covenant of Mayors Co-Chairs Michael R. Bloomberg, former New York City Mayor (center) and European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic (far right) pose with other speakers at the Sustainable Energy for All event in New York.

Global Covenant of Mayors Co-Chairs Michael R. Bloomberg, former New York City Mayor (center) and European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic (far right) pose with other speakers at the Sustainable Energy for All event in New York.

We often use the term local control with regards to education and governing groups.  We may prefer to promote and support local city or county programs over state issues.   We like the ability to elect our local representatives to city and county.  Some of us may live in cities that actually vote for the mayors.  We probably take for granted this right.  Are we aware of what our mayors, city councils, and county boards of supervisors are doing or not doing on our behalf?  Perhaps using our tax dollars in pursuit of programs which we might not support.

Have you heard of the Global Covenant of Mayors?   One of its goals is: Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Fostering Local Climate Resilience.  Would you want your mayor and council to advocate these goals that mirror the United Nations Sustainable Goals under Agenda 21 or Agenda 2030?  

Mayors have many opportunities to involve our cities in furthering these goals.  Perhaps you have read about the Mayors’ Innovation Project and your mayor’s participation. Then some of our mayors may have even attended the Hemispheric Summit of Mayors on August 23-26 in Mexico.  If mayors missed out on that, there was the Smart Cities Expo World Forum in Australia from August 31-Sept. 1.  Your city officials may have budgeted for your mayor or city official to attend the Cities and Climate Conference 2017 in Potsdam, Germany mid September.

One other event was Smart Cities Week in D.C. Oct. 3-5 or there is the Climate Summit of Local and Regional Leaders in Bonn, Germany mid November. This last event is held during the UN Climate Change Conference known as COP 23 (November 6-17).  December 4-5 will be Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy North American Climate Summit in Chicago.

In 2018 is planned a landmark conference on cities and climate to be held in Edmonton, Canada from March 4-7.  Your mayor may be planning to participate in the IPCC Cities and Climate Change Science Conference.  Your city may have even planned to have a representative attend the ICLEI World Congress in Montreal, Canada June 19-23, 2018.
One other worldwide event the California Summit will be held here in California in September, 2018 with Jerry Brown leading the conference.  

9.3% of the world’s population belongs to some of these little known groups. That equates to 7,477 cities.  The people in these cities may be unaware of this involvement.  However, this does not sound like a large enough number of people to constitute very powerful groups.   Yet, your community could belong to one of these groups that believe that the most important action its citizens and residents can take is to reduce their carbon footprint and carbon emissions.  That equates into fewer car lanes, more bike lanes, and concentrated, high density housing developments known as transit villages in downtown areas

One of the main groups reaching out to local city, county, and regional officials to adopt the UN Sustainable Goals is ICLEI.  It was once called the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, is now known as Local Governments for Sustainability.  ICLEI is there to show the city officials how to engage its community in committing to “climate adaptation” or “climate mitigation.”  These are the terms that reflect the steps a city or community could take to fully involve the citizens in the chosen action plan.

You might be wondering how a city, even your city, could adopt such a plan without voter approval.  It appears that the mayor may announce an executive decision or the city council could pass a supporting resolution to commit to adapting or modifying the city’s local planning strategies.  

In the Bay Area nine counties, 17 cities and one county have signed onto the Global Covenant of Mayors.  San Francisco and Oakland have pledged to the four programs: Commitment, Inventory, Target, and Plan.  To date the other cities have agreed to #1 Commitment.  They include Alameda, Benicia, Berkeley, Cupertino, Emeryville, Fremont, Hayward, Palo Alto, Piedmont, Richmond, San Jose, San Rafael, Santa Cruz, and San Leandro. Sonoma County Regional Climate Protection Authority is also shown with #1.   

President Trump’s action in withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord has prompted the many groups to work more feverishly and more directly with the local officials in states, by-passing any federal connection.  ICLEI recently conducted a webinar to provide tools and guidelines to cities to act on their own to acknowledge the need for a Paris Accord.  This Paris agreement is at the international level, but the local entities are encouraged to advocate for climate change policies by making their commitments visible to the public and work to share their progress with other cities.   Has your city signed on to a similar agreement?

Advocates for climate change propose to promote healthier cities and happier residents. In the future these cities may not ever become healthier and happier, but the promoters and bureaucrats in the non-government and governmental agencies are definitely enjoying healthier bank accounts.  Ultimately, we local citizens may discover that our precious right to vote is in jeopardy, as other entities are actually controlling what is happening in our cities.

Check out your city and others and take action to block your city from unwittingly giving up our local control: http://www.globalcovenantofmayors.org/about

Other references:  www.citiscope.org / for calendar of world meetings and info on the New Urban Agenda.  www.technocracy.news  for Internet of Things and People/AI

Liz Froelich   Nov., 2017