Cities at the forefront of fighting climate change

Mayor of Paris

An ecological transition has been necessary for many years. It has now become vital. Faced with the prospect of the total destruction of people and the environment, we must send out an equally uncompromising wake-up call on the ties that bind humans and nature.

Only a radical overhaul of our way of living can put a stop to environmental degradation. And sustainable solutions need to come from cities, which are the leading public investors, trailblazers in testing ideas, and the driving force behind social and technological innovation.

Cities know how to create precious synergies between citizens, businesses and institutions. They have valuable human resources at hand, which can guarantee creativity and unique expertise. By forging a direct link between residents and users, cities can unite large communities tasked with thinking and doing. Thanks to their responsive modes of governance, they only need a few months to test ideas that would require years of negotiation in national and international bodies.

Local authorities must play their full part in this effort. Paris is fully committed to combating climate change and determined to move forward as quickly as possible. And I know that this objective is shared by many local leaders both in France and abroad. We intend to turn words into actions, which will benefit our lives and our cities.

This means placing the circular economy at the heart of the way we operate. We want to step out of the vicious circle of an economy, which is an increasing drain on resources, and enter another circle, one which respects human dignity, health and environmental balance. It is a circle in which humanity fights not against our possibilities, but against everything blocking the way to a freer future. The circle integrates, includes and involves everyone in a shared journey.

Local authorities need to work towards the emergence of this new economy, so that we learn how to produce without destroying, consume without wasting, and recycle without dumping.

This is precisely the direction that the City of Paris has chosen to take. And we are determined to make the UN Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris a milestone in the fight to save our environment.

On the occasion, some 1 000 local leaders from around the world will come and fly the flag for cities and regions. Every day, local authorities implement concrete solutions at grass-roots level, which must be used to add impetus to negotiations. The Climate Summit for Local Leaders will be an opportunity to acknowledge those innovations that local authorities and their networks have put in place in their daily efforts to preserve our planet.

It is by giving all these voices the platform they deserve in order to be properly heard that we can reach an agreement that is crucial for safeguarding and freeing the future. The Climate Summit for Local Leaders will be an opportunity to deliver a powerful collective message with a single voice.

Another world is within our reach, and within the reach of all humankind, based on our ideals of unity and sharing. It is up to us to bring that world to life.

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For OECD data and information on cities and climate, visit

©OECD Observer 304, November 2015

Economic data


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