Iloilo City and the Vienna climate change gab

By Alex P. Vidal

“Labor believes in sustainability. We believe in acting on climate change, not just talking about it.”—Anthony Albanese

IN the just-concluded eighth edition of the Bridge for Cities event organized by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (Unido) in Vienna, Austria, Iloilo City Mayor Geronimo “Jerry” Treñas was among the over 500 people from around the globe who gathered to discuss climate change at the urban level.

According to Treñas in his Facebook post on September 9, Iloilo was the only city in the Philippines invited in the global confab.

“The unido trip was a complete success for the Iloilo experience. We shared our efforts to fight climate change thru our bike lanes (for which we were adjudged the bike capital of the Philippines several times) plus our three-tree park network (Lanit, beach forest and the 35-hectare mangrove forest),” reported the Ilonggo city mayor.

“We are also looking forward to a PPP arrangement for an ev-brt. Iloilo is showing in the international arena that a city in the Philippines is on its way to sustainability. Please note that iloilo city was the only city in the Philippines invited to attend the unido bridge for cities program for this year. We are being noticed for what we have been doing in Iloilo City.”


“Furthermore,” added Treñas, “our efforts for sustainability was acknowledged by a column in inquirer newspaper in today’s issue by Gideon Lasco. Additionally, I have been invited to the FINEX Annual Conference to talk about the Iloilo experience. Our efforts towards sustainability are being noticed locally, nationally and internationally. All these are happening because of the community efforts made by the Ilonggos. I am proud to be a city mayor of the Ilonggos. We are showing everyone that not only we can do it – we are already doing it! I am proud to be Ilonggo.” reported on September 8 that the first day began with an opening ceremony featuring key addresses by distinguished figures, including a message from the United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, which was delivered by Ghada Waly, Director-General of the UN Office at Vienna (UNOV).

Guterres highlighted the importance of cities in combating the climate crisis and in driving sustainability and circularity.

In his address, UNIDO Director General, Gerd Müller, emphasized how technology and innovation are crucial in advancing sustainability and digitalization in urban areas.

For his part, LI Song, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of China to UNIDO and other Vienna-based organizations, highlighted the importance of sustaining efforts towards urban green development, reaffirming China’s support, notably within the Belt and Road Initiative.


Other distinguished guests included Rafael Tuts, Director of the Global Solutions Division at UN-Habitat, and Shaima Al-Sheiby, Senior Director of Strategic Planning and Economic Services at OPEC Fund for International Development, who elaborated on how their organizations support cities around the world with technical assistance and finance.

The ceremony concluded by Omar Al-Rawi, Member of the Vienna City Council, reiterating the City of Vienna’s commitment to the event and accentuating the significant role of mayors in fostering environmentally friendly and sustainable cities.

A Mayors’ Dialogue brought together more than 20 city leaders from diverse urban centers to share information about driving climate action at the local level. An in-depth discussion with visionary leaders Eleni Myrivili and Carlos Moreno underscored cities’ pivotal role in combating climate change.

The second day delved deeper into climate change and its socioeconomic impacts, with a Mayors’ Panel highlighting real-world solutions and experiences from city leaders from Dhaka, Antsirabe, Amman, Lilongwe, Glasgow and Santo Domingo Este. These leaders shared insights into how urban areas can simultaneously mitigate climate change and foster socio-economic growth.

A Roundtable on Financing Urban Transformation shed light on the critical aspect of funding ambitious climate initiatives in cities. The discussions stressed the need for innovative financing mechanisms and public-private partnerships to support urban sustainability projects.

The UNIDO Bridge for Cities event was made possible through the support of the Government of China.


Climate change is a global phenomenon that largely impacts urban life, according to UN Environment Programme.

It warned that rising global temperatures causes sea levels to rise, increases the number of extreme weather events such as floods, droughts and storms, and increases the spread of tropical diseases.

All these have costly impacts on cities’ basic services, infrastructure, housing, human livelihoods and health.

At the same time, cities are a key contributor to climate change, as urban activities are major sources of greenhouse gas emissions. Estimates suggest that cities are responsible for 75 percent of global CO2 emissions, with transport and buildings being among the largest contributors.

Only with a coordinated approach and action at the global, regional, national and local levels, can success be achieved. It is essential, therefore, to make cities an integral part of the solution in fighting climate change.

Many cities are already doing a lot by using renewable energy sources, cleaner production techniques and regulations or incentives to limit industrial emissions. Cutting emissions will also reduce local pollution from industries and transport, thus improving urban air quality and the health of city dwellers.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two daily newspapers in Iloilo.—Ed)