GCoM at COP28: A historic first for local leaders – a decisive step towards accelerating climate action

That’s a wrap on COP28! We want to thank you all for supporting and following the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy (GCoM) at COP28 this year – where GCoM supported gathering more than 450 local leaders, partners, and stakeholders for an exceptional series of activities centered around local climate solutions, research and innovation, finance, and data, all aimed at promoting a just transition. Over the course of two weeks, GCoM successfully convened representatives from various cities and local governments, regional and national governments, scientists, policymakers, youth and more, with the collective goal of expediting the implementation of ambitious and measurable climate and energy initiatives, fostering a transition towards a low-emission and climate-resilient future. The events also served as a platform to showcase the impactful urban climate action undertaken by our signatory cities.

From November 30 to December 12, 2023, in Dubai and online, GCoM (co-)organized over 25 events, including several Local Climate Action Summit (LCAS) sessions, a City Climate Finance Gap Fund event and a number of Urban Transitions Mission (UTM) events, and participated in an additional 30+ gatherings in various COP28 pavilions across multiple Zones. All of the GCoM events, including the sessions “Accelerating city climate action at speed and scale: An Innovate4Cities implementation showcase”, “Building climate neutral and resilient cities: a journey to implementation”, “The data cities need: Accelerating sustainability solutions with advanced data and AI” and more, can be rewatched here.


During the first-ever Local Climate Action Summit (LCAS):
  • The UAE COP28 Presidency announced the launch of the Coalition for High Ambition Multi-level Partnerships (CHAMP) initiative endorsed by 70+ countries that have committed to enhanced cooperation between national, regional and local governments on planning, financing and implementing national climate goals. As part of the announcement, European Commission Executive Vice-President Šefčovič released a statement in support of the principles and objectives outlined in the declaration.
  • An Expert Group convened by GCoM and WRI  launched the Integrity Matters for Cities, States, and Regions report. Serving as a follow-up to the flagship High-Level Expert Group (HLEG) Integrity Matters report launched last year at COP27, it outlines recommendations for subnational governments to ensure the credibility, accountability, and transparency of their net zero commitments while acknowledging their varied capacities and characteristics. GCoM representatives subsequently joined discussions with the UN Secretary-General and his team in Dubai on reporting, accountability and transparency
  • In partnership with WRI, GCoM also released the Multilevel Climate Action Guide for Decision-makers, which builds on the latest insights and good practices from the Global Covenant of Mayors alliance centered on 3 recommendations that can catalyze climate-focused governance and action across levels of government. The recommendations are complemented by more than 100 case studies from around the world which are presented in the newly launched Multilevel Climate Governance Atlas.
  • The Cities Climate Finance Leadership Alliance (CCFLA), GCoM and C40 Cities published Accelerating Urban Climate Finance in Low-and Middle-Income Economies: A Strategic Component of Multilateral Development Bank (MDB) Reform, a first-of-its-kind assessment of MDBs’ contributions to urban climate finance in low-and middle-income countries that explores opportunities for them to accelerate urban climate finance. 
  • To mark the occasion of the Local Climate Action Summit, Bloomberg Philanthropies released Paris to Dubai: Local Climate Leadership in Action, a new report outlining the historic progress cities and regions have made and outlining the steps necessary for greater ambition and partnership to accelerate climate action ahead of 2030. This was presented by Michael Bloomberg to the COP28 President Sultan Al-Jaber as part of the opening plenary of LCAS.
  • Bloomberg Philanthropies, in close collaboration with GCoM and C40 Cities, announced the launch of Catalytic Cities, a program aiming at developing new blended-finance investment vehicles to mobilize finance for urban climate solutions.
  • A coalition of international partners launched Lowering Organic Waste Methane (LOW-Methane), a new initiative to jumpstart a dramatic scale-up of global action to cut methane emissions from the waste sector, and GCoM was delighted to become a stakeholder.
Throughout the 2 weeks at COP28:
  • GCoM launched the 2023 Global Covenant Of Mayors Impact Report: Urban Catalysts – A Local Climate Stocktake, GCoM’s annual flagship report showcasing the commitments that GCoM signatories are making to reduce emissions and build resilience to the effects of climate change, and the ambitious actions being taken across sectors. Watch a deep dive into the data and the launch of the report here and here
  • Local leaders across the globe came together to strengthen international partnerships and exchange knowledge and best practices on unlocking and enabling ambitious local climate action during GCoM’s Board Meeting. The meeting was also joined by our GCoM co-funders: Bloomberg Philanthropies and the European Commission. During the meeting, GCoM announced the appointment of Oleksandr Senkevych, Mayor of Mykolaiv, Ukraine, to its Board of Mayors.
  • To link cities, climate change science, and findings from the first Global Stocktake, GCoM and UN-Habitat announced that the next Innovate4Cities Conference will be held in Montreal, Canada, from 10-12 September 2024. Convening leaders from cities, academia, civil society, and industry at the intersection of urban development and climate change science to inform the Seventh Assessment Report Cycle (AR7) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and progress on innovative cross-sector solutions that address critical sustainability gaps. The announcement was made as part of a first-ever Innovate4Cities implementation showcase, which convened more than 30 speakers across sectors to highlight the importance of research and innovation at the nexus of cities and climate science – and the opportunities for co-creation at scale. 
  • The 2nd Ministerial Meeting on Urbanization and Climate Change, co-hosted by the COP28 Presidency, UN-Habitat and the High-Level Climate Champions, with segments moderated by GCoM Global Ambassador Gregor Robertson, brought together global leaders and experts for a meeting during the COP28 thematic day of Multilevel Action, Urbanization, Built Environment, and Transport. The high-level meeting included speaking remarks from GCoM Board Member Mayor Abby Binay, Makati, Philippines. 
  • GCoM, C40 Cities and CCFLA signed a memorandum of understanding with the Climate Investment Funds (CIF), to support the development of a concessional fund dedicated to sustainable cities, with the CIF committing to collaborate on the design and implementation of the CIF Climate Smart Cities program. This is aimed at expanding urban climate finance from six MDBs in cities in developing and emerging countries. 
  • As a founding partner of the International Coalition for Sustainable Infrastructure (ICSI), GCoM supported the production and launch of a new position paper on Upscaling infrastructure resilience through innovative financial approaches, governance, and practice and The Climate Resilience Infrastructure Report: A Focus on Nature
  • GCoM and the Covenant of Mayors for the Mediterranean were invited by DG CLIMA at the European Union COP28 pavilion to promote the concrete work of cities committed to combating climate change, energy challenges and working towards a low-emission and climate-resilient future. The Building climate neutral and resilient cities: a journey to implementation event demonstrated that approaches to climate change are as diverse as they are unified, with local leaders around the world deploying unique strategies rooted in common themes.
  • In support of the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, GCoM Board Member Mayor Reynolds, Hobart, Australia, highlighted the debate around the extraction and production of fossil fuels. As GCoM Board Champion for Beyond Fossil Fuel Campaigning, she encouraged fellow mayors to endorse the Mayor’s Statement to support the call for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty.
  • CDP launched Accelerating Climate Finance in Cities: A Global Snapshot of Opportunities and Needs with data disclosed through CDP-ICLEI Track (one of the two available GCoM reporting platforms), shedding new light on how cities are rethinking their strategic plans, infrastructure and financing needs. The disclosed data shows that 636 cities reported 2,346 climate infrastructure projects in 2023, seeking $65 billion in investment.
  • GCoM was also represented at the Brazilian, Italian and Turkish pavilions in three events that clearly demonstrated the acknowledgment at national level that cities are essential partners, and often leaders, in the fight against climate change and its effects. From tourism and industry to health and social cohesion, these sessions allowed GCoM to share insights on how effective climate policy can improve all aspects of everyday life. Meanwhile, the Covenant of Mayors Europe explored how cities are leveraging EU initiatives like RePowerEU to improve climate outcomes while achieving greater energy independence at the DG CLIMA pavilion, and joined numerous talks and events that proved cities’ place at the decision-making table.
The Urban Transitions Mission (UTM): 
  • Joined forces with Google’s Environmental Insights Explorer and released a guide as a roadmap tool for cities to harness the full potential of the Environmental Insights Explorer, overcoming challenges, and chart sustainable urban mobility planning and solutions with evidence-based data
  • Announced the joining of 49 additional cities to the mission’s cohort. The newcomers will work together and receive support to test, pilot, and scale up innovative solutions for a holistic, people-centred urban transition to a net-zero resilient future. Since early 2023, UTM has engaged the first 48 cities of its cohort to continue advancing in their decarbonization journey and are committed and working towards an expected collective reduction of 21.635 Megatons of CO2 equivalent – the equivalent of around 3.000.000 people flying in economy class from Miami (US) to Newcastle (AUS) and back.
  • Advanced the close collaboration with Innovate4Cities and continues to welcome research institutions, academia and think tanks to join the UTM clusters to engage with the city cohort in the co-creation of innovative solutions using localized science, data, and research. Interested institutions can apply to join the clusters here.

Lastly, learn more about some of GCoM’s key moments in media, such as Mayor Binay’s interview with Channel News Asia (CNA), a piece on cities at COP28 from POLITICO, Reuters on the climate finance gap, local climate solutions through Nikkei Asia, an op-ed on climate-vulnerable cities at COP28 by Mayor Sefiani and Michael Bloomberg on Morocco World News, GCoM Co-Managing Director Andy Deacon interviewed by COP28, and SmartCitiesWorld on the Local Climate Ambition Summit, among others. As well as some highlights on social media including an LCAS recap by Bloomberg Philanthropies, Google CSO Kate Brandt on the Innovate4Cities Implementation Showcase and the release of a guide for cities with UTM, as well as UN-Habitat Executive Director Maimunah Mohd Sharif announcing the 2024 Innovate4Cities Conference and many more that you can find on GCoM’s X, Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook.

A big thank you to everyone involved, our cities, the GCoM Board, our funders, GCoM Regional/National Covenants and the alliance of partners, for making all of this possible and for working together to support local climate action through data-based decision-making, critical funding access and innovative solutions.

Contact us at info@globalcovenantofmayors.org for any questions or comments.

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