Concordia’s Ursula Eicker co-authors policy brief on G20’s global sustainability approach
Ursula Eicker, Concordia professor and Canada Excellence Research Chair in Smart, Sustainable and Resilient Cities and Communities, has contributed to a G20 cities policy that could impact sustainability research on a global scale.
It’s a fitting task for Eicker, co-founder of Concordia’s Next-Generation Cities Institute. She leads a diverse team of faculty and researchers who collaborate on creating green, affordable and inclusive neighbourhoods and sustainable solutions for cities.
Her own work as a physicist mainly focuses on developing innovative strategies for zero-carbon cities. Eicker has also led a variety of research projects — as well as writing six books and more than 400 publications — on topics like energy efficiency in buildings and sustainable energy supply systems.
In January, her colleague Hannah Abdullah from the Barcelona Centre for International Affairs suggested they jointly submit a proposal for a Think20 (T20) Policy Brief, offering research-based recommendations to G20 leaders. As the official engagement group of the intergovernmental forum, T20 aims to bring together leading think tanks and research centres from across the world.
Together, Eicker and Abdullah submitted an abstract in the policy area Net Zero Emission and Just Transition Toward Climate-neutral Economies under Task Force 3: Governing Climate Target, Energy Transition and Environmental Protection.
“We proposed a brief that explains the role of cities and transnational cooperation between cities in reaching net zero by 2050 and in ensuring a just transition,” Eicker explains.
T20 accepted their proposal and asked them to write a full policy brief for the G20, which is now in revision and set to be published in September 2022.
Reaching the ‘major decision-makers on this planet’
“Writing the policy brief was an extremely interesting discussion process with great thinkers of how we could increase action levels and support cities in their efforts to net-zero carbon,” Eicker says.
“We are interested to see how international policy-makers of the G20 states will respond to our propositions and what we will finally be able to communicate to the major decision-makers on this planet.”
In addition to Eicker and Abdullah, collaborators included Karim Elgendy, Roxana Dela Fiamor, Namita Kambli and Adeline Rochet.
The brief, “Empowering cities in the race to a just net-zero transition,” discusses more targeted and long-term support from the G20 for cities looking to scale up urban climate action and it focuses on key areas that the collaborators deem critical to the process. These include:
- Joined-up multi-level climate governance processes
- Bridging the digital and green agendas in cities to support the urban energy transition
- New multi-level and cross-sector financing solutions
- More robust and harmonized urban climate data
- Enhanced local government efforts to drive a just transition within and between cities
“I hope that the policy brief will bring our Next-Generation Cities Institute to another level of international visibility and start a wider debate on how research can inform policy, especially on the multi-level governance issues that cities are confronted with,” Eicker says.
“Going forward, I also hope that we will disseminate the main messages in Canada and help to speed up the necessary actions toward zero-carbon cities.”
Find out more about Concordia’s Next-Generation Cities Institute.