22 May 2023

G7 Leaders recognise the transformative power of cities as drivers of sustainable development

Japan’s G7 Presidency

From 19-21 May, G7 Heads of State met in Hiroshima, Japan to discuss pressing global issues including Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine, economic resilience, and climate change. In their final Communiqué, the G7 Leaders emphasised “the transformative power of cities worldwide as drivers for every aspect of sustainable development” and committed to continuing their cooperation with cities on sustainable urban development “to support exchanges with our global partners, whose cities face some of the most significant challenges relating to climate change”. The G7 Leaders also recognised “the vital role of sub-national governments in collaboration with other stakeholders and partners to advance climate and energy actions based on local needs and environmental conditions.”

These commitments build on decisions made by the Heads of State in Germany in 2022, when they recognised the importance of working directly with cities to address global challenges. Furthermore, they tasked “relevant Ministers to develop a joint understanding of good urban development policy […], and to decide on joint initiatives for unlocking the full potential of cities to promote social, cultural, technological, climate-neutral, economic, and democratic innovation for the common good.”

Since Japan took over the G7 Presidency in 2023, the G7 has deepened its commitment to engage cities in the process. On 15-16 April, the G7 Ministers’ Meeting on Climate, Energy and Environment in Sapporo (Japan) concluded with the announcement of the first-ever G7 Roundtable on Subnational Climate Actions in collaboration with Urban7 (U7) – the voice of local governments in the G7 process. This Roundtable is a clear progress towards the implementation of the commitments made by the G7 Leaders in Germany in 2022. For the second year in a row, cities will also play a key role at the G7 Urban Ministerial Meeting. The Urban7 is helping to shape G7 processes through participating in the preparatory meetings, and U7 representatives are invited to the Ministerial Meeting, which is scheduled to be held on 7-8 July.

The Urban7 is engaging in these important meetings with a common voice, outlined in the 2023 U7 Mayors Declaration. In March 2023, mayors of the 2023 U7 Group, chaired by Japan Designated City Mayors’ Association President Mayor Kizo Hisamoto (Kobe, Japan), came together in Tokyo for the Urban7 Mayors Summit. The mayors presented the Declaration and their priorities to representatives of Japan’s G7 Presidency, including officials representing the Cabinet Office, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, Ministry of the Environment, and the Foreign Ministry.

Representing the U7 Secretariat as Chair of the Global Parliament of Mayors, Mayor Peter Kurz (Mannheim, Germany) said: “For the past three years, the Urban7 has been working to make the voice of cities heard in the G7 process. I am pleased that, for the second year in a row, the G7 Presidency has recognised the decisive role that cities play in addressing global challenges. Local governments will be critical partners for G7 members in these efforts. The Urban7 will continue to build this partnership by working closely with Japanese ministries to ensure that local government is involved in relevant G7 ministerial meetings.

Reflecting on the occasion, ICLEI President Mayor Frank Cownie of Des Moines (USA) expressed: “The G7 Leaders Summit has shown its commitment to the shared prosperity of our global community. I commend these leaders while reflecting also on the United States Government's first Cities Summit of the Americas last month. These events demonstrate that coordinated, multilevel, local-to-national action is the only effective approach for tackling challenges as large as global health, energy security, fair and open democracies, and climate change. Through the Urban7 engagement group, ICLEI and our partners will work to advance the shared outcomes from the G7 Leaders Summit.”