Cities, Cities and sustainability reporting, Sustainability

Resilient Cities Conference 2018

I just returned from the Resilient Cities Conference 2018  where I was invited to make two presentations.  I represented the City of Bloomington, Indiana in my role as Chair of the City of Bloomington Commission on Sustainability. This conference is held annually in Bonn, Germany.

Started in 2010, the Resilient Cities Conference was conceived as a way to connect local government leaders and climate change adaptation experts. The goal was to create discussion about adaptation challenges facing urban environments and to encourage partnerships that could benefit cities.

What is a resilient city?

“A ‘Resilient City’ is prepared to absorb and recover from any shock or stress while maintaining its essential functions, structures, and identity as well as adapting and thriving in the face of continual change. Building resilience requires identifying and assessing hazard risks, reducing vulnerability and exposure, and lastly, increasing resistance, adaptive capacity, and emergency preparedness.”

The Resilient Cities Conference 2018 featured speakers from all over the globe, which included Australia, North, Central, and South America, Europe, Africa, Pacific Islands, and Asia. I was one of three U.S. city/state representatives. The program was packed with sessions about challenges and strategies for cities as they adapt to climate change.

The First Plenary set the tone for the need for action with speakers from the UN, ICLEI, City of Bonn, and experts on climate adaptation. Ashok Sridharan, the Mayor of Bonn, welcomed us all.

 

Ashok Sridharan, Mayor, City of Bonn, Germany

 

Speakers and attendees at first Plenary Session

 

Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

I was invited to the Mayors Lunch.

Mayors Lunch

At the Mayors Lunch, we were given Rubik’s cubes to symbolize how one’s perception of progress can be deceptive. In trying to solving the puzzle, although progress may be occurring, things often look much worse before they look better.

Mayors Lunch

In addition, I was invited to the Talanoa Dialogue and Dinner.

“This year’s conference has been confirmed as a Talanoa Dialogue. Talanoa is a traditional word used in Fiji to describe an inclusive and transparent dialogue and decision-making process. The Talanoa Dialogue was launched by the COP23 Presidency of Fiji and is designed to take stock of and strengthen national climate plans known as Nationally Determined Contributions, or NDCs. In order to keep global temperature rise well below 2 degrees Celsius, greater ambition and more effective implementation involving all levels of government is critical.”

Talanoa Dialogue and Dinner at Town Hall, Bonn

Great conversations occurred between the sessions.

Gwen White and Anthony Socci, Sr. Lead on International Resilience and Adaptation Policy at U. S. Environmental Protection Agency

 

Monika Zimmermann, Deputy Secretary General, ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability and Sunandan Tiwari, Senior Program Manager, Global Projects, ICLEI World Secretariat, Bonn, Germany

 

Steve Gawler, Regional Director, ICLEI Oceania, Melbourne, Australia, Geoffrey Rutledge, Deputy Director-General, Sustainability and the Built Environment, Australian Capital Territory Government, Canberra, Australia, Stephanie Ziersch, Director, Communities and Climate Change, Sustainability Victoria, Melbourne, Australia, and Gwen White

It was a great conference that I hope to attend in the future. In my next posts, I will talk about my two presentations at the Resilient Cities Conference 2018.