ICLEI Leaders and Members to strengthen Pope Francis’ efforts on climate, modern slavery and sustainability


An article from ICLEI, Local Governments for Sustainability

On 21-22 July, a delegation of more than 60 Mayors from around the world will meet Pope Francis in the Vatican for a two-day event on climate change, human trafficking and sustainable development. ICLEI has mobilized its leadership and membership to show full support to the groundbreaking work of Pope Francis on these timely issues.

Park Won Soon, ICLEI President and Mayor of Seoul, South Korea

“The current wide-ranging crisis has brought us close to a point of no return and has the potential to nullify the social and economic progress achieved so far, thus posing a threat to the future existence of humankind,” remarked ICLEI President Won Soon Park. “We believe that the timely efforts of Pope Francis will help lead to bolder climate action and the birth of an inclusive and ambitious global climate regime”.

The ICLEI Leaders and Members attending the events in Vatican include: ICLEI President Park Wonsoon (Mayor of Seoul, participating via video message), ICLEI Vice President Miguel Angel Mancera ( Mayor of Mexico City), members of Global Executive Committee and Council namely Gustavo Petro (Mayor of Bogota), Parks Tau (Mayor of Johannesburg), Matthew Appelbaum (Mayor of Boulder), Estaella Marino (Deputy Mayor of Rome) and a number of ICLEI Members including George Ferguson (Mayor of Bristol), Anne Hidalgo (Mayor of Paris), Marcio Lacerda (Mayor of Belo Horizonte), Bill de Blasio (Mayor of New York City), Mayor Eduardo Paes (Mayor of Rio de Janeiro), José Fortunati (Mayor of Porto Alegre), Gustavo Fruet (Curitiba, Brazil), Jarosław Jóźwiak (Deputy-Mayor of Warsaw), Virginio Merola (Mayor of Bologna), Gregor Robertson (Mayor of Vancouver), Milan Bandić (Mayor of Zagreb), Stian Berger Rosland (Mayor of Oslo) and Karin Wanngard (Mayor of Stockholm). ICLEI Deputy Secretary General Monika Zimmermann and ICLEI Head of Policy and Advocacy Yunus Arikan will also participate in the meetings.

The meetings mark the first time that the Vatican has approached Mayors to work together and discuss how cities can help tackle the crucial issues facing humanity. From the beginning of his pontificate, Pope Francis has taken a firm stand against modern slavery, calling all communities to reject all systematic deprivation of individual freedom for the purposes of personal and commercial exploitation. In his well-received encyclical Laudato Si, the Pope has highlighted the connection between natural and human environment, emphasizing that global warming is one of the causes of poverty and forced migration and calling for all actors to work together in shaping a sustainable future.

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Question for this article:

Despite the vested interests of companies and governments, Can we make progress toward sustainable development?

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As the world’s leading cities’ network on sustainability, ICLEI has been at the forefront of tackling issues related to climate change and sustainability in cities and regions worldwide. In both the global and local stages, ICLEI has been actively promoting and advocating for sustainable cities and regions, which are low-carbon, resilient, smart, ecomobile, biodiverse, resource-efficient and productive, and healthy and happy.

“We are happy to observe an active and committed engagement of ICLEI Leaders and Members in the Vatican on 21 and 22 July. It is no surprise to us that Pope Francis has received a strong support from local and subnational leaders worldwide whose ambitious actions could help spur a global transformation to a sustainable urban future. This spirit and gathering in the Vatican will send clear signals to the global community and citizens of the world which will hopefully help ensure tangible and ambitious outcomes in the post2015 development agenda, climate negotiations and HABITAT III processes,” said ICLEI Deputy Secretary General Monika Zimmermann.

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