The Secretariat of the Global Covenant of Mayors (GCoM) Japan is headquartered at Nagoya University and is administered by Professor Noriko Sugiyama of the Graduate School of Environmental Studies. On Monday, January 22nd, 2024, a conference was held at the Sakata and Hirata Hall at Nagoya University to launch the next phase of their collaborative climate change action project.
The Covenant of Mayors is an initiative that began as a European Union (EU) initiative in 2008. Its members are local governments that voluntarily pledge to increase energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy on their territory. In 2018, the Global Covenant of Mayors of Japan was launched and now has 48 local authorities as members. In December 2023, the Ministry of Environment awarded the organisation and its members the Climate Change Action Prize for its work promoting and implementing positive environmental policies at the local level in Japan.
The event was attended by Nagoya University representatives and mayors of seven members of the GCoM, Niseko, Tokorozawa, Kamishihoro, Yamagata, Miyoshi, Toyohashi and Gujo.
Also attending were representatives from the EU, including His Excellency Jean-Eric Paquet, EU Ambassador to Japan, and representatives from the Ministry of the Environment. The afternoon included panel discussions with the mayors and with high school, undergraduate, and graduate students whose interests and research are climate related.
"Japan is making good progress," said Professor Sugiyama. "Benefits of the program are two-fold: acting at the local level means that environmental policy can be shaped to meet the needs of a particular place that cannot necessarily be met by public policy. On top of that, local authorities from different areas of the country have a chance that they would not usually have to meet, cooperate and exchange ideas."
Ambassador Paquet agreed. "One ideal level where society and political leadership come together is at the local and regional level," he said. "This is the spirit of the Global Covenant of Mayors," he continued. "You [Nagoya University and the Secretariat] have been, and you are, a remarkable support to Japan's Global Covenant of Mayors."