Mayors Sign Historic Urban Environmental Accords

Publish date: 
Sunday, June 5, 2005

Mayors Sign Historic Urban Environmental Accords

(June 5, 2005)

City Leaders from Around the World Agree to Take Specific Actions In Special Ceremony at U.N. World Environment Day Conference

SAN FRANCISCO – Leaders of cities from around the globe took the historic step of signing the Urban Environmental Accords on Sunday in the rotunda of San Francisco City Hall in recognition of United Nations World Environment Day 2005.

"What we have accomplished here in San Francisco will change the world," said San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, host of the five-day conference of international mayors, non-government organizations, and businesses. "What we started here is only the beginning -- the start of a new way of thinking about our earth, and the start of a new global environmental grassroots movement focused on cities.

"In 1945, the original 50 founding delegates signed the U.N. Charter in San Francisco. "Today, Mayor Newsom has brought together 50 of the largest and most visionary cities on the planet to chart a new and bold course toward urban environmental sustainability," said Jared Blumenfeld, director of the San Francisco Environment Department.

One by one, each mayor stepped forward to sign the Accords document, which sets out 21 specific actions for sustainable urban living. The Accords address seven environmental areas common to all the world's large cities: water, energy, waste, urban design, transportation, urban nature, and environmental health.

"We the signatory Mayors have come together to write a new chapter in the history of global cooperation," the Accords resolve. "We commit to promote this collaborative platform and to build an ecologically sustainable, economically dynamic, and socially equitable future for our urban citizens.... By signing these Urban Accords Environmental Accords, we commit ourselves to moving vital issues of sustainability to the top of our legislative agendas. By implementing the Urban Environmental Accords, we aim to realize the right to a clean, healthy, and safe environment for all members of our society."

Those signing the Accords include Jakarta, Delhi, Istanbul, London, Seattle, Melbourne, Kampala, Zurich, Dhaka, Moscow, Rio de Janeiro, Copenhagen, and Islamabad. Some mayors signed the Accords in advance of the ceremony.

United Nations Environment Program Executive Director Klaus Toepfer and U.S. Representative Nancy Pelosi, the House Minority Leader, participated in the signing ceremonies.

After signing the Accords, the mayors walked down the steps of City Hall to hear a 1,000-person gospel choir, conducted by four-time Grammy winner Edwin Hawkins, perform a specially composed song called "United Nations, Together We Can."

The Accords are the result of year-long partnership of cities, the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI), the United Nations Environment Program, the University of California at Berkeley, environmental nonprofits, and businesses. Mayors participating in the World Environment Day conference met for five days in Accords sessions to debate language and implementation of the Accords, and to share best practices and ideas. The mayors toured San Francisco's state-of-the-art facility where 67% of all waste generated in the city is recycled; rode zero-emission vehicles including hydrogen fuel cell buses and a 1907 cable car, and on Sunday walked through Muir Woods, retracing the steps of the U.N.'s founders 60 years ago.

The conference began June 1 when California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, flanked by the participating mayors, signed an Environmental Action Plan to reduce the state's emissions of greenhouse gases. Surrounding World Environment Day, more than 300 community events and activities took place throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, such as an eco-chic fashion show, a children's painting award, a film festival, discussions, workshops, and rides in fuel cell cars.

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World Environment Day is a project of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). Since its inception in 1972, World Environment Day has given a human face to environmental issues, and promoted an understanding that communities are pivotal to changing attitudes about the environment. UNEP provides leadership and encourages partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations.

Sponsors for UN World Environment Day include The Coca-Cola Company, Earth Council Alliance, FedEx, Richard & Rhoda Goldman Fund, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Norcal Waste Systems, Inc., The Tommy E. Short Charitable Foundation, Toyota Motor Sales, USA, CH2M Hill, Cisco Systems, Google, Metreon - A Sony Entertainment Center, Organic Bouquet, PG&E Corporation, Pacific Gas and Electric Company Pacific Energy Center, Bob Werbe (deceased, 2004), Bedminster International, Eastern China Airlines, The Gap Foundation, Mitsubishi Corporation, Mitsubishi International Corporation Foundation, New Leaf Paper, Sound Energy Solutions, Starbucks, Tzu Chi Foundation, 7th Generation, Alliance for Sustainable Built Environments, Aramark, City of Santa Monica, George Chu , Clif Bar, Columbia Foundation, HMR Group, The Max and Anna Levinson Foundation, Premier Building Systems, San Francisco Foundation, SBC, Sierra Club, StopWaste.org, The Turner Corporation, 450 Architects, Acteva.com, Alaya Institute, Ambrosia Productions, American Institute of Architecture, Athens Environmental Foundation, Breast Cancer Fund, Columbia Foundation, The Climate Group, Craigslist Foundation, Ella Baker Center, European American Chamber of Commerce, Exbrook, Foreign Cinema, Form Studios, Getty Images, Golden Gate Recreational Area, ICLEI, IMG Home, Natural World Museum, Neighborhood Assemblies Network, NRDC, Presidio Trust, San Francisco Arts Commission, San Francisco State University, Save-the-Redwoods League, Seven-Star Events, Solem & Associates, Swiss Re, Taste Catering, UC Berkeley, Underground Advertising, Vote Solar, WildAid, Wildlife Works, Whole Foods, Zen Hospice Institute, Clear Channel Outdoors, KPIX/CBS 5, E/the Environmental Magazine, KGO/ABC7, KQED, KRON 4, KTVU, Mother Jones, KNTV/NBC 11, San Francisco Chronicle, SINA Corporation, Sing Tao Daily/Sing Tao Chinese Radio, UPN Bay Area/KBHK-TV, Viacom Outdoors, World Channel, KMTP 32.

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Press Contact:
SF Environment, Mark Westlund (415) 355-3714

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Department of the Environment
City and County of San Francisco
11 Grove Street, San Francisco, CA 94102
Telephone: (415) 355-3700 • Fax: (415) 554-6393
Email: environment@sfgov.org • www.sfenvironment.co
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