Think Globally, Develop Locally
Sustainable local development in South-East Europe
Presidents address sustainability & climate change
16-Oct-2012, by Jehona Grapci, UNDP, via web
Network of Associations of Local Authorities of South-East Europe (NALAS), a Network of 15 local government associations, which covers around 9,000 local authorities and 80 million citizens throughout South-East Europe, held this year president's meeting on June 15-16, 2012 hosted by Romanian Association of Communes (ACoR) at Danube Delta in the city of Tulcea, Romania, with focus on "Climate Change on Local Governments Agenda in South-East Europe."
In his opening speech Mr. Özgen Keskin, NALAS President said: “The topic of this year’s Meeting of NALAS Members’ Presidents was chosen with the concern of our own responsibility as decision makers and people who can make difference. Actions for preventing climate change and mitigating its effects should be taken now, today, by each of us regardless of our social status, gender, political beliefs, and it is because the consequences of the climate change affect us all. We, as mayors, will need to deal with these consequences at local level because we are the authorities closest to the people, and even though climate change is a global process, its effects have strong influence and should be dealt with by the local communities”.
Ms. Daniela Carrington (UNDP) next explained "We are entering into a new era of green global economic growth, through significant mitigation of GHG emissions and generating funding for mitigation and adaptation actions and thus creating new investment opportunities." Although she warned of the vulnerabilities stemming from climate change, she also presented examples of great local leaders that inspire action to address climate change.
The regional programme "Think Globally, Develop Locally" aims to create such leaders. This is the main theme of the Climate Change Action Plans of Local Government Associations of Kosovo, Macedonia and Moldova, that were developed with support of the regional programme Think Globally Develop Locally. Each association presented its draft Action Plan that was developed with input from stakeholders from relevant national government agencies as well as local government officials and technical staff.
In regards to Rio+20 and EU 20/20/20 a letter was sent to United Cities and Local Governments on June 20, 2012 as a NALAS position for Rio+20 summit stating "The role of local authorities and the processes of decentralization and consolidation of local autonomy at all levels (including communes and small towns) has to be recognized in the Rio+20 Conference Declaration, as this is a prerequisite for implementing direct changes in the local communities to deal with climate change. Sustainable actions to deal with climate change by local authorities assume a very broad and multidimensional perspective, including creation of a whole spectrum of climate-friendly local environment, in partnership with other actors, such as the civil society and private sector. At the same time, this requires strong, autonomous and efficient local government, capable and motivated to use all available administrative and financial capacities conducive to real results multiplied by widest population involvement in solution of climate problems.”
The event included a boat trip for participants which provided a unique opportunity to experience the highly diverse flora and fauna of Danube Delta, unique in Europe, hosting 23 natural ecosystems with numerous rare species. This area is particularly know for highest concentration of bird colonies in all of Europe, including cormorants, pelicans, white tailed eagles and glossy ibises. This unique ecosystem is threatened by effects of climate change, making it a very appropriate setting for this historic meeting.
As all participants considered the meeting highly significant, for closure we will use Mr. Mladen Ivanovic, Coordinator of the Association of Municipalities in the Republic of Croatia citation: “It is important to raise the awareness of local governments about their role in fighting the climate change. In that respect, meeting in Tulcea organized by NALAS was of utmost importance. First of all it gave us the forum to discuss related issues and, second, it enabled us to hear how local governments in South East Europe are already fighting the climate change. Looking globally, this micro-effort is an excellent contribution to the global goals.”
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