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International Conference on the Convenant of Mayors launched in Tbilisi

By Mzia Kupunia
Friday, October 22
Tbilisi is hosting a two-day conference on the Covenant of Mayors initiative for cities in the Eastern Neighboring Countries of the EU. The Covenant of Mayors, launched in 2008, consists of the cities which have taken a formal commitment to reduce CO2 emissions by 20 percent through energy efficiency and renewable energy actions. According to organizers of the conference, attended by 150 participants from over 45 cities of the Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia region, cities are giving a “strong sign” that they want to take an “active role” in addressing growing energy concerns affecting the lives of their citizens.

The capital of Georgia is the first capital city in the Eastern Neighborhood countries of the EU to sign the Covenant of Mayors. So far 17 cities of Ukraine, 5 cities from Moldova and one city from Armenia have joined or made a clear commitment to join the Covenant of Mayors. Speaking at a special press conference before opening the conference on Thursday, Tbilisi Mayor, Gigi Ugulava said the aim of the meeting is to “jointly cope with global challenges.” “Small or big nations, states and cities should equally be concerned about this problem.”

“That’s why we joined an agreement of Mayors which unites many European cities, and the cities in the European Neighborhood policy, including Tbilisi. In frames of the conference we will talk about different issues, such as environment protection, ecology and education,” Ugulava told journalists “Our main aim is to show the society the pragmatic need of all the novelties that we are planning to introduce. We want to show our citizens that all of these measures are of practical importance for our future generations,” he added.

Georgian Environment Minister, Goga Khachidze hailed Tbilisi’s joining the Covenant of Mayors and holding a conference dedicated to environment issues in Tbilisi. “In a very short period of time the Tbilisi Mayor’s Office has made significant efforts in the direction of decreasing CO2 emissions through various initiatives. By implementing such initiatives in reality, we and most of all Tbilisi becomes a full member of the European society, which has been thinking about environment issues for quite a long time,” Khachidze noted.

The Environment Minister said fulfilling the commitments under Covenant of Mayors is “not an easy task”, however added that “there are signs that meeting the obligation deadlines are absolutely realistic.” “More than half a million trees have been planted in the last several years in Tbilisi with the coordination of the Tbilisi Mayor’s Office. In addition to this, there are numerous ongoing projects aimed at improving the ecological situation in the city. I would like to mention one of them – this is the initiative of the Tbilisi Mayor to implement a modern electric transport system in the capital,” Khachidze stated.

One of the most important messages of the conference is that cities should stand together to fight against climate change, Vice Mayor of Paris Denis Baupin said at the press conference. “It is very important that we are all mobilized against climate change. There is a very important message that we want to stress – that we all together want to fight against climate change, that we, the cities, will do our part of the job,” Paris Vice Mayor noted “ We, as cities have a lot of capacity to fight greenhouse gas by developing renewable energies and by efficiently managing public transport systems. Both big and small countries all have to do their job and of course the rich countries have to help others to do what they can,” he added.

The International conference on the Covenant of Mayors closes today.