Mayors from 33 capital and major cities across Africa pledged Friday to quicken climate change adaptation and mitigation plans for their cities.
Concluding a two-day meeting in Nairobi, the mayors issued the Nairobi Declaration, in which they resolved to integrate these plans into city development strategies.
Despite their relatively low contribution to global warming, African cities are suffering the effects of rising greenhouse gas emissions elsewhere in the world, mayors said at the conference, which was organized by UN-HABITAT to discuss the regional and global roles of mayors.
UN-HABITAT Executive Director Anna Tibaijuka said the regional conference had provided a new impetus to the local government movement in Africa.
The mayors resolved to raise the voice of African cities by participating actively in the ongoing global climate change policy development process that will culminate in the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December. There, governments are expected to agree on a greenhouse gas limitation treaty that will take effect at the end of 2012 when the Kyoto Protocol's first commitment period expires.
Concern over climate change was expressed most vocally by the mayors of coastal cities such as Dar es Salaam, Moroni and Banjul, and small island states such as Comoros and Seychelles.
Still, the negative impact of climate change is not confined to seaside cities. Mahamat Zčne Bada, the mayor of Chad's capital N'djamena, noted that irregular rainfall patterns and deforestation in and around the city had led to major flooding in 1999, 2001 and 2008. The city is flanked by two rivers and most people rely on wood products for energy, which causes the deforestation.
Climate change is only one of many problems afflicting African cities, emphasized Mayor Kimbisa. "Our cities cannot cope with five to six percent population growth. We can't cope in education, housing, health or water," he said. "Our cities are overwhelmed."