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Warsaw, Poland, 21 Nov 13

UN-Habitat Deputy Executive Director, Dr Aisa Kirabo Kacyira with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Executive Secretary Ms. Christiana Figueres. Picture by Marcus Mayr/UN-Habitat
For the first time during the Conference of Parties (COP) process, this year's United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meeting includes a "Cities Day", recognizing the important role that our cities play in combating climate change.

The COP19, currently underway in Warsaw, Poland, is the latest in a series of ongoing meetings aimed at reaching a global agreement on reducing climate change over coming years with its main objective to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and curb the global temperature increase at 2 degrees Celsius above current levels.  

Speaking at the opening dialogue of "Cities Day", UN-Habitat Deputy Executive Director, DrAisaKiraboKacyira said that local authorities were ready to act on climate change but needed strong frameworks within which to work and must be allowed reasonable budgets to achieve their goals. 

"Given the quantities of greenhouse gases that cities emit, and the vulnerable populations that are concentrated in urban areas, we must open windows and establish mechanisms to give qualified local authorities more direct access to international sources of climate finance," she said.

Cities take up around 2 per cent of the world's land but contribute as much as 70 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to a recent UN-Habitat report.  Despite this, much of the dialogue on combating climate change takes place at the national level, something that UN-Habitat and its partners are trying to address. 

While speaking at the Sustainable Innovation Forum, Mayor of Warsaw, Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, said that this was the first time in the climate negotiations process that the voice of cities would be heard.

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