I attended the opening plenary session of the 2009 ICLEI World Congress in Edmonton‘s Shaw Conference Centre. The 628 ICLEI delegates will face a rigorous agenda over the next four days. Congress delegates have flown in from around the world, including over 100 delegates who do not speak English.
The 2009 ICLEI World Congress opened with speeches from:
– Stephen Kabuye, ICLEI’s Vice President, Mayor of Entebbe, Uganda
– Stephen Mandel, Mayor of Edmonton
– David Cadman, Deputy Mayor of Vancouver, Canada & ICLEI President
– Ray Danyluk, Alberta’s Minister of Municipal Affairs
– Bärbel Dieckmann, Chairperson, World Mayors Council on Climate
Change, Mayor of Bonn, Germany
Of all the speakers, Cadman was the most passionate. As President of ICLEI, he used his time at the podium to urge delegates to lobby their state, provincial, and national governments for serious action on sustainable development and climate change. As this year’s COP15 meeting in Copenhagen approaches, the world’s municipalities will play a key role in advocating for serious action on the international stage. Even though it was only the first day of the Congress, I get the distinct feeling that municipal frustration towards regional and national inaction on sustainability and climate change is a common feeling among delegates.
Critics may point out the irony of holding an international sustainability conference due south of Alberta’s Energy Beach, but the 2009 ICLEI World Congress will give Alberta’s cities an opportunity to highlight some of the innovative sustainability initiatives that are being implemented at a local level. With an increased international spotlight on Alberta’s potential as an even stronger energy leader (and the irresponsible way that we are currently exploiting our resources), the Government of Alberta may feel an increased international pressure to become serious about cleaning up the way we are allowing oil companies to extract our natural resources.
For up-to-the-minute coverage of ICLEI over the next week, I will be uploading photographs on Flickr and joining the discussion on Twitter at #ICLEI. For more information on ICLEI, check out Mastermaq’s Guide to ICLEI World Congress in Edmonton.