Diplomacy surrounding climate change happens on numerous levels. The current definition of climate diplomacy largely centres on the negotiations by state parties at the UNFCCC does not capture the full extent of current global trends and developments. Cities have become important actors in climate change discussions, formulating and implementing adaptation policies, and setting mitigation goals and targets.
Using the case studies of Bangkok, Singapore and ICLEI (a network representing cities and local governments), this paper explores some examples and practices of climate diplomacy conducted by cities in Asia Pacific.
From the case studies, it becomes clear that cities are important actors in the field of climate and environment, sustainability and green growth. These are highly important and critical issues for each city and their development; there is also a sense of initiative and pro-activity towards working on these issues with other cities and metropolitan regions through various platforms.
In the scope of climate diplomacy, as defined in this paper, the role of cities seems clear on three different levels: (1) through a collective position; (2) through interaction and engagement with each other and; (3) through advocacy at a national and local level.
Other than making a case for the need to broaden the conception of climate diplomacy, this paper concludes with recommendations on how cities can better engage and participate in climate diplomacy across various levels, and how their specific advantages and capabilities are best used to support international processes and ambitious climate action. It is clear that enhancing the role of cities is going to be a critical factor in addressing climate change and hence there is an urgent need to bring them into the fold of climate action as well as diplomacy.