Cities have an important role to play in the fight against climate change, and this role must be recognized both by financing institutions and national governments.
The importance of the role of cities was highlighted by Amujae Leader and Mayor of Freetown, Sierra Leone, Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, during a recent panel discussion at the Bloomberg New Economy Forum 2021. Mayor Aki-Sawyerr argued that–alongside the role they have in implementing national policies at community level–cities should be offered a more significant space for political engagement and access to finance.
Mayor Aki-Sawyerr pointed out the example of Transform Freetown’s work on climate action across 11 sectors, as well as Sierra Leone’s proposal for a cable car system as an initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions caused by transportation. She also stressed the need to reduce the gap between the urgency of climate action and the speed of access to financing:
“This has got to change. And for that to change we need to see more of, not just the blended financing … but the speed of response.”
Putting the role of cities into perspective, Mayor Aki-Sawyerr said that C40 Cities alone account for 700 million people worldwide, and that by 2050 it is estimated that 70% of the globe’s population will be living in cities. These numbers, she said, show that swift access to funding for cities and their participation in policy-making are crucial in the fight against climate change:
“The challenge that we are facing … is one which is integral to the survival of people.”
Mayor Aki-Sawyerr’s closing remarks put the emphasis on the importance of allowing local governments to have control over policies related to climate action in order to make investments viable and protect them from national government policies.
Mayor Aki-Sawyerr was joined on the panel by Uzziel Ndagijimana, Rwanda Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Ahmed M. Saeed, Vice-President, Asian Development Bank, and Josephine Wapakabulo, Founder and Managing Director, TIG Africa.
Watch the full session here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tLn7BmE1THY