ICCA 2015: “Hanover Declaration” an important signal for COP21 negotiations in Paris

Around the world, municipalities assume a crucial role in addressing climate change. On 1-2 October 2015, participants gathered at the International Conference on Climate Action (ICCA2015) in Hanover, Germany, to learn from best practices and highlight further potentials of local climate action.


On 2 October, Federal Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks presented together with the Environment Minister of Lower Saxony Stefan Wenzel the Hanover Declaration “Local Governments Driving Transformation”. The declaration is the result of the International Conference on Climate Action (ICCA2015), which was held from 1-2 October 2015 at Herrenhausen Castle in Hanover, Germany. In her speech before international guests, Minister Hendricks drew a line from the most recent UN Sustainable Development Summit in New York City and the upcoming COP21 climate negotiations in Paris through to the envisaged United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) in October 2016.

The Hanover Declaration emphasises the key role of municipalities in climate action. The declaration highlights most important success factors in the fields of governance, finance, infrastructure, adaptation to climate change impacts, urban development and local ecosystems. Particular focus is placed on networking, education and training, the exchange of experiences and best practices as well as social participation, involvement of the private sector and robust financial framework conditions.

Under the theme "Local Governments Driving Transformation" the ICCA 2015 gathered more than 400 representatives from municipalities, politics, networks, foundations and research institutions from Germany and abroad. Participants took the opportunity to discuss and learn from different concepts and approaches to local climate action. The conference was hosted by Germany’s Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB), the Ministry for Environment, Energy and Climate Protection of Lower Saxony, Germany, and the German Institute of Urban Affairs (Difu). adelphi assisted the organizational work, and moderated a number of workshops.

A diverse range of formats provided for extensive knowledge exchange and mutual learning

Participants engaged in a total of 18 workshops across seven thematic fields: agents of change; governance; infrastructure; finance; ecosystems; networks and groups; and culture and climate. To give an impression, the workshop "Climate Action as a part of New Urban Agenda" took a closer look at the Habitat III-Process. Hosted by UN Habitat, the workshop placed different aspects of local climate action on the agenda and in particular engaged with the question of how they can be linked to other goals of sustainable urban development.  

The roundtable "Local Climate Action at its Best" gathered representatives of German municipalities various networks. Rita Schwarzelühr-Sutter, Parliamentary State Secretary, BMUB presented the Climate Action Award for Local Government 2015 to selected German municipalities for their innovative climate action projects.

During the High level panel "Local Action for Solutions", Minister Stefan Wenzel, Lower Saxony focused on the matter of participation in climate action and acknowledged the role youth played at ICCA2015. Henri Djombo, Minister for Sustainable Development, Forestry Economy and the Environment, Republic of Congo drew upon the international dimension of climate action and highlighted Africa’s vulnerability to climate change and the importance of taking action to elude yesterday's destruction of ecosystems in the future. Rob Hopkins, Transition Network stressed that governments should focus on creation of supportive conditions for local communities to be the key change-makers.

Federal Environment Minister Hendricks: “Change has to begin where people live and work”

Alongside workshops and panel discussions, the experience and knowledge transfer was also channeled through a creative space by youth theatre, a forum on food and culture, film work and fishbowl discussions where pupils engaged in climate talks with practitioners from Germany and beyond. In "Climate Neighborhoods" exhibition everyone could take a tour and participate in innovative climate projects from local interest groups, schools, and research institutes. A model Eiffel Tower was used as a visual symbol of COP21 at the conference. The group youthinkgreen of the Ursula School Osnabrück, Germany collected messages from ICCA2015 visitors and displayed them on the tower: http://icca2015.org/en/news/dok/15.php

During the presentation of the Hanover Declaration, Environment Minister Hendricks expressed her confidence as regards the upcoming COP21 climate talks in December: "Change has to begin where people live and work. The Hanover conference has shown that municipalities and local actors are ready to contribute to climate action. This builds a momentum for good results in Paris."