Event June 18, 2019

Lessons from Colombia and Mexico inform discussion on cities and the NDCs

NDC Conference_Group photo
  • EVENT 2019 Global NDC Conference
  • LOCATION Berlin (Germany)
  • DATE 12-14 June

Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) are the backbone of the Paris Agreement. The current process of updating the NDCs, according to the Rulebook agreed at COP24, could make or break the success of the Agreement and decide whether or not the world limits global warming to less than 1.5°C or 2°C.

Cities are responsible for a majority of global greenhouse gas emissions and are also responsible with implementing a lot of the measures that can reduce emissions and adapt to climate change. The C40 Cities Finance Facility (CFF) organised a session titled ‘Scaling up climate action in cities to support national commitments – Lessons from Colombia and Mexico’ at the 2019 Global NDC Conference in Berlin on June 14th to promote actionable ideas and transformative solutions that can be scaled up from the local to the national and global level. The session was the only one that focused on cities out of 40+ side-events.

Transformation is needed to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. The Global NDC Conference 2019’s objective was to address challenges and propose solutions to enable policy-makers to bring about faster and more ambitious actions on climate change. The Conference aimed to answer three questions:

  • How does turning the Paris Agreement Rulebook into action support NDC implementation?
  • What actions and innovations are driving NDC implementation and advancing sustainable development priorities?
  • How do we increase pace and scale of change to bring NDCs in line with the Paris Agreement?

As reflected in the outcomes of the Global NDC Conference, ‘[s]ub-national actors [such as cities] are key to help bridging the gap between ambitious national climate targets and the concrete actions required on the ground.’ This entails that ‘climate action can no longer be considered as a top-down approach but a merge of both top-down and bottom-up approaches,’ where cities not only implement the targets included in NDCs but are also responsible with setting the targets themselves.

The CFF-organised session focused on how to accelerate climate action in cities, based on lessons from Colombia and Mexico. In Colombia, the CFF is currently supporting the development of a cycle avenue in Bogotá and of bike-sharing systems in Bogotá, Bucaramanga, Cali and Montería. The existence of a national framework and supportive national institutions – Colombia has a National Climate Change Policy and is developing a National Strategy on Cities and Climate Change – has enabled the CFF to extend its assistance to other cities in Colombia. The NAMA Facility is also working on 3 programmes in Colombia, 2 of which focus on cities (transit-oriented development and electric mobility). Upcoming elections in all Colombian municipalities in October 2019 are a risk. However, by collaborating with different stakeholders, including the national government and the private sector, organisations like the CFF and the NAMA Facility can navigate political change.

The CFF also began supporting one project in Mexico in 2016 (the Eje 8 Sur zero-emission corridor). The 2018 elections at the municipal and national level in Mexico led to a drastic political realignment. Notwithstanding that, the CFF extended its assistance to three other cities, namely Guadalajara, Hermosillo and Monterrey. At the same time, the Coalition for Urban Transitions is working to create a sustainable national urban policy which encompasses all sectors and cities of all sizes, especially small and medium-sized ones where most of the emissions reductions need to happen to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.

By sharing these examples from the cities and countries in which it operates, the CFF continues to feed its experiences into international agendas on climate change, finance and cities.

Photo credits: Martin Magunia/Mettle/NDC.


  • Aris Moro, Knowledge & Partnerships Manager, CFF (Moderator)
  • Johana Pinzón, Colombian National Department of Planning
  • Janka Clauder, Technical Support Unit, NAMA Facility
  • Max Lohmann, Organizational Development and Donor Relations, CFF
  • Catlyne Haddaoui, Research Analyst, Coalition for Urban Transitions