Mayors of the world’s cities are meeting at the Vatican on Tuesday and Wednesday to tackle climate change and human trafficking, in advance of the United Nations Climate Change Summit in Paris later in the year.
The mayors are discussing how cities can help solve these problems in a workshop on Tuesday on “Modern Slavery and Climate Change: the Commitment of the Cities” and a symposium on Wednesday on “Prosperity, People, and Planet: Achieving Sustainable Development in Our Cities”.
The conference, called by Pope Francis, is hosted by the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences.
Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, chancellor of the academy said: “We intend for the mayors to commit to promoting the empowerment of the poor and of those who live in vulnerable conditions in our cities and in our urban settlements, reducing their exposure to extreme weather events caused by radical environmental, economic and social instabilities, which create fertile ground for forced migration and human trafficking.”
Mayors attending the conference come from cities in all continents, including many Olympic bidding and hosting cities.
Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh said: "I am honoured to have the opportunity to represent the City of Boston at the Vatican to discuss the vital issues of human trafficking and protecting our environment. I look forward to joining my peers from around the world to collaborate on how we can prepare our cities for the future."
Kingston Mayor, Angela Brown Burke said: “Here in Jamaica we are constantly reminded of our contribution to and the effects of human-induced climate change as we experience hotter days and nights, less rainfall and longer periods of drought.
Oslo Mayor Stian Berger Røsland said: "When we say humans must, and can, reduce our climate gas emissions, people do not envision a good public transport system or responsible building legislation. But when cities emit 70% of the world’s CO2, clearly, we do have game-changing tools."
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said: "Modern slavery and climate disruption are two major and intertwined issues for our capital cities. We shall face these challenges collectively, engaging the political and spiritual forces of our local communities.”
Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes said: "C40 cities have the potential to reduce their annual cumulative greenhouse gas emissions by 1 billion tons by 2020, which shows that together and coordinated, leaders have the power to protect the cities, our common home.”
Rome Mayor Ignazio R. Marino said: "Rome is committed to create a permanent network between cities wishing to engage in the fight against climate change thanks to good energy saving practices.”
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson said: “Pope Francis' leadership will build on the resounding unity of big cities worldwide in calling for meaningful and binding emissions targets, and for a climate agreement signed in Paris that respects the needs of our cities, our planet and the generations to come.”
The United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP21, will be held in Paris from November 30 to December 11, 2015.