Mayors Gloat About Cities' Sustainable Development Progress, Criticize Global Process at Rio+20

Mayors of eight cities shake hands at Rio+C40 launch. Photo© Paula Alvarado

Eight mayors from major cities around the world, including New York City, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires and Sao Paulo, gathered at the Rio+C40 launch event to comment on how urban centers are leading the way in terms of sustainable development and climate change.

New York mayor and C40 Chair Michael R. Bloomberg’s words were firm and self congratulatory, but that didn’t make them any less true: cities seem indeed to be ahead of the global process, announcing measures constantly and achieving actual results.

According to Bloomberg, it’s because “mayors don’t have the luxury of talking and not achieving,” which is actually true from a political point of view: their term is usually four years, and lack of results translates in lack of votes.

New York City mayor Michael R. Bloomberg at C40 meeting in Rio+20© Paula Alvarado

Bloomberg shared the interesting fact that the cities that are part of C40 have the ability to reduce one gigaton of carbon emissions a year by 2030: that’s equivalent to Mexico and Canada’s national yearly emissions combined.

In a message through teleconference, former president of the United States Bill Clinton supported the work of the C40 group and called the world to “Use cities' progress to prove the world that clean energy and sustainable development is good economics.”

Former president of the United States Bill Clinton addresses Rio+C40 participants. Photo© Paula Alvarado

The announcements were followed by a series of presentations of different initiatives the group and other organizations are taking around the world, which we’ll cover in detail in another post.

It is indeed exciting to hear about the leadership mayors are taking, though given that most of them are leading cities as a previous step to running for national governments, let’s just hope they remember all this when or if they become heads of State.

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