ICLEI in Southeast Asia calls to empower local leadership at COP28 #MultilevelActionDelivers


“Attending COP28 is an important platform to highlight the climate vulnerabilities permeating local contexts. Strengthening the pathway for robust collaboration with national and international partners and mobilizing climate finance is critical in meaningfully enabling cities to lead the way in this climate emergency.”

Arif Wibowo, Country Manager of ICLEI Indonesia, had this to say at COP28, where ICLEI offices from around the world, alongside regional and sub-national leaders, are gathered to showcase the pivotal role of local leadership in driving climate actions.

Cities in the global south, including Southeast Asian cities, are among the most hard-hit by the impacts of the climate emergency, such as rising sea levels and extreme weather events. 

“While they are the most vulnerable, cities and regions are also the birthplace of innovative climate solutions and truly inspiring grassroots climate action. As such, they should be supported, capacitated, and be given due participation in the global climate arena,” said Victorino Aquitania, Regional Director of ICLEI Southeast Asia.

At the forefront, ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability as the official focal point for the Local Governments and Municipal Authorities (LGMA) Constituency, with UN-Habitat, have co-convened The Multilevel Action & Urbanization Pavilion in the Blue Zone at COP28. This dynamic pavilion will serve as a global stage for the city and region climate agenda, spotlighting the accomplishments and commitments of local and subnational actors in addressing the climate emergency.

Indonesian cities forge strategies at Pre-COP28 focus group discussion

Official representatives from ICLEI city members and networks in Indonesia engage in in-person and hybrid focus group discussion on 27 November 2023.

Anticipating the momentous climate agenda of COP28 in Dubai, ICLEI Indonesia hosted a focus group discussion involving over 15 member and network cities in Indonesia on 27 November 2023. The primary objective was to explore strategic pathways, as well as challenges and enabling opportunities to empower cities to meet National Determined Contributions (NDCs) targets. The Synthesis Report on the Technical Dialogue of the First Global Stocktake (September 2023) underscores the indispensable contribution of sub-national governments which play a pivotal role in supporting their national government—as a Party to the Convention—to attain climate change adaptation and mitigation objectives aligned with the 2015 Paris Agreement.

Key initiatives emerged from the discussion, reiterating the vital role of sub-national governments as instrumental players in reducing GHG emissions. These include innovative approaches like smart urban planning for efficient waste management, designing cities for compactness and walkability, and implementing measures for increased energy efficiency. The discussions also touched on the development of co-located housing and jobs, heightened electrification, and a transition to low-carbon energy sources, all while bolstering the climate resilience of urban areas.

Addressing the challenges of climate adaptation, the discussions emphasized mainstreaming adaptation actions and considering loss and damage in policy formulation across all levels of government. The urgent need for comprehensive capacity development, extending beyond data mobilization, was underscored to ensure the seamless integration of adaptation and climate-resilient development into investment and development planning. The adopted approach aligns with the “all of economy, all of society” paradigm deemed essential for effective climate change mitigation.

Additionally, the release of recent guidelines for Regional Climate Cooperation on Carbon Pricing (NEK) without compromising the ability to achieve NDC targets (Presidential Regulation 98/2021) was a significant development. The implementation of Article 6 garnered attention, particularly in considering sectoral GHG emission reduction targets to mobilize funding for sustainable urban development. The government’s NEK infrastructure was identified as a crucial asset to support local governments in securing funding for impactful climate action.

Moreover, the sub-national governments called for rigorous accounting practices and increased accountability to ensure the faithful implementation of mitigation actions, upholding environmental integrity, and avoiding the pitfalls of double counting.

In summary, the outcomes of the focus group discussion can guide local and sub-national governments as they play a transformative role in climate action, aligning with global targets, and enhancing resilience in the face of climate challenges.

Echoing the global call for multi-level action 

ICLEI Southeast Asia and ICLEI Indonesia echo the call of the global ICLEI community to recognize the key part local, regional, and subnational governments have in mitigating emissions, building climate resilience, enhancing adaptive capacities, and significantly contributing to national climate action efforts and commitments; as well as to form meaningful partnerships between governments at all levels, with development finance organizations, and with other global actors to enable subnational governments to better play their role in meeting the targets of the Paris Agreement.

The launching of UrbanShift National-Local Dialogue in Indonesia on 30 August 2023, inviting over 60 participants including official delegates from 5 pilot cities in the country.

At COP28, UrbanShift, a global platform in which five Indonesian cities serving as local pilot project in the Southeast Asian region, actively engages in strategic discussions, spearheading efforts to drive urban transformation and align with global climate goals, carving out space for local stakeholders to share their visions, challenges, and best practices. Indonesia as part of the the GEF Sustainable Cities Impact Program (SCIP) asserts the pivotal role of Low Carbon and Resilient Development as a new paradigm to commit climate action policies between governments at all levels. This forward-looking initiative delves into the intricacies of Urban Biodiversity, Circular City, Resilience City, and Decarbonized City themes, strategically earmarked for implementation in five pilot cities: Jakarta, Semarang, Balikpapan, Palembang, and Bitung. Furthermore, Mayor of Semarang City, Hevearita Gunaryanti Rahayu, was invited along with other local leaders across the globe to participate at COP28 Local Climate Action Summit. In this pavilion, the state, regional, and provincial climate leaders will discuss ​how to unlock greater climate ambition using regional legal and policy powers.

ICLEI also collaborated with YOUNGO (The Youth Climate Movement) in COP28 to showcase the importance of including the youth in accelerating the achievement of NDCs, along with the goals of the Paris Agreement. 

Various local governments from the ICLEI network in Southeast Asia are present at COP28, including Makati, Bohol, Borongan, and Del Carmen from the Philippines; Semarang from Indonesia; and Alor Gajah and Hang Tuah Jaya from Malaysia. In the context of high-level dialogue, several Indonesian ministries are also involved in multilevel climate action in achieving the objectives set forth by the Paris Agreement in the COP28, including the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Ministry of National Development Planning, and Ministry of Public Works and Housing.

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