Challenges such as climate change or responding to the war in Ukraine are not dealt with solely by national or European leaders. They are also tackled on the local scale by city leaders and municipal administrations. That’s one of the reasonings behind efforts to highlight the role of city diplomacy by the G7 Urban7 Group Alliance that relies particularly on interlocutors of city networks to represent an urban voice to the G7.
“We, Mayors gathered through the networks of local governments of G7 nations and the European Union, welcome the unprecedented recognition of cities, sustainable urban development and multilevel governance in the 2022 G7 Presidency Programme as a historic opportunity to embrace peace, democracy and sustainability,” reads the opening line of a statement signed today by mayors and representatives of city networks, including Eurocities.
Following the initial U7 meeting, which met on the side lines of last year’s G7 meeting in the UK, today’s online U7 Mayors Summit, focussed on cities as drivers of change for peace, democracy and sustainability.
One topic that was high on the agenda was the war in Ukraine. “People cannot build a future where war reigns,” reads the statement.
Representing Eurocities, Dario Nardella, who is both President of the city network, and Mayor of Florence said that “we must remain mobilised to provide political and material support to the Ukrainian cities, mayors, and citizens.” He also brought attention to the Mariupol Call, launched by Aleksandra Dulkiewicz, Mayor of Gdansk, which has so far gathered more than 300 signatures from mayors asking for an end to trade with Russia and committing to welcoming refugees to their cities. At the same time, he said that “now is the time to start working together to create a solid framework for the post-war reconstruction of sustainable cities.”
The U7 gathering also shared views on the themes addressed by the 2022 G7 Presidency Programme, including in areas such as environmental sustainability and economic stability. Noting the need for different levels of government to work together on these issues, Nardella pointed out the good recent example of the EU Mission for climate neutrality by 2030, of which Florence is one 112 cities taking part.
“We will work with the EU, our national government, local stakeholders and across sectors to develop a climate city contract, as well as action and financing plans,” said Nardella.
He also indicated that the Mission model can serve as inspiration for other cities globally, as well as in Europe.
When it comes to managing the needed green, digital, and just transformation of our cities, which will require unprecedented levels of financing from both private and public funds, Nardella said that there are many barriers to investment that must be removed, such as national legislatures preventing transnational public procurement.
In the statement of the U7 Group, which is published well ahead of the next G7 summit scheduled to take place in June, there were several calls to action, including:
- Inviting the G7 countries and all G7 engagement groups to recognise the U7 as a new G7 Engagement Group from 2022 onwards
- Committing to engage in G7 ministerial meetings. The group also welcomed a first meeting with the role of the ministers of sustainable urban development
- Inviting G7 countries to systematically consider and promote the potential of urban diplomacy in their foreign and development policies
“City diplomacy and urban leadership is more necessary than ever to drive change for peace, democracy, and sustainability. I am convinced that our involvement and role as local political leaders in the G7 will continue to grow in the coming years,” concluded Nardella in his remarks.
Read the U7 statement here.