Good night Doha and wake up!

22/11/2012 / Kaj

Why should we give any hope to national governments to succeed in a deal on Climate Change. It is a waste of money to take more then 10.000 people to a negotiation in Doha based on false hope. It is time to create a parallel negotiation with city leaders and put the investors money into cities – then you will see results.

National governments have proven that they do not have what is required to meet the global challenges of climate change and the unsustainable use of our planet’s resources. The shortcomings of the latest Rio summit acts as testament to this. With the burden of recession and austerity, short-sighted national governments have thus far shown themselves unable to handle sustainable development issues.

Within the arena of sustainable development, the boundaries of responsibility are undergoing a monumental shift. This allows new actors to take pole position in the creation of new opportunities. Old infrastructures are being replaced by new ones that are better designed to cope with the challenges facing cities and regions.

We should stop directing our attentions and frustrations towards impotent governments. Instead we must focus on more localized models that simmer from below but come to influence and inspire national actors to greater action.

Better levels of engagement and the development of local and international networks have prompted a wider range of actors to become involved in sustainability, from both within and outside the market. The umbrella term for this is usually ‘Sustainable Cities’, but as we say in Sweden, ‘a loved child has many names’.

Over the past five years we have seen several strong international networks emerge from municipalities and regions. To get a wider understanding of this phenomenon I undertook some research that shows just how many locally-focussed organizations use their involvement in these networks to bring about sustainable solutions that can have a real impact. I must say that I was impressed by what I found and you can read the full report here.

But the question in front of Doha is now – where is the Mayors that will take the lead?


Stockholm 22nd of November 2012

Kaj Embrén


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  1. Christoph Bals

    While it is obvious that UN negotiations alone will not solve the climate crisis: But local initiatives alone will also not do the job. Isn’t it a strategy to get
    1) frontrunners moving forward (on state/town/regional level),
    2) to build alliances between frontrunners, with most affected countries and communities, and with entities in most relevant states (China, US, etc.)
    3) to move UN negotiations forward so that the slow movers move at all; so that most vulnerable countries have at least a voice in one forum; to keep the landing place for legal outcomes.


  2. dan


    I don’t disagree with your point about getting mayors involved but my sense of the whole COP and UNFCCC process is that it is complicated enough. Generally, smart people are representing us. Mayors need to stir up support at home and make sure negotiators take that message with them, but not sure they also need to get involved in the negotiations. This is a bit like adding more cooks when there’
    s already chaos in the kitchen

  3. This is a great posting, thank you.

    THe solution to centralization is decentralization.
    Decentralization puts control in the hands of people to make decisions for themselves about what is produced, how it is distributed, and how it is consumed.

    Thank you, and best regards – Mack Coyle

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