C40’s (www.C40.org) annual event, which took place on Wednesday in South Africa for the first time, gathered city officials and investors to address the most pressing climate challenges of our time; African mayors stated that inspiring citizens to live sustainably is a good start, but systemic infrastructure development enabled by public and private investment is critical to sustainable city transformation; showcasing recent innovations in African cities, experts urged the investment community to recognise the potential of these leading cities and promote inclusive financing models; global collaboration was the consensus: our shared climate mission must transcend national and industry borders.

The transformational potential of African cities, a need for inclusive financing models and our collective responsibility in the global fight for sustainability were key themes of this week’s C40 Cities’ Financing Sustainable African Cities Forum, supported by Citi Foundation, which took place in South Africa for the first time.

The forum provided a high-profile platform for over 50 African city officials to highlight their role as climate leaders, share experiences, challenges and opportunities with investors, government representatives, international stakeholders and not-for-profit organisations, and showcase the need for decisive city-led climate action and the potential of African cities for sustainable infrastructure investment.

Executive Mayor of the City of Johannesburg, Herman Mashaba, took to the stage to emphasise the global scope of our shared fight for sustainability and the vital role of African city investment in progressing this fight: “Some leaders argue that the effects of climate change are the result of years of neglect by developed countries. But we need to focus on what every single nation can do right now to improve our shared future. Let us not delude ourselves; a lack of development does not exempt us from taking responsibility for our collective destiny. Rather than dwelling upon who brought us to this point, we must focus on putting sustainable development front and centre in all of our work”.

James Alexander, Director of the City Finance Programme, C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, said: “In recent years, the world has started waking up to the potential of cities to save us from climate disaster. Cities are where the action is happening and the global leadership is being shown. However, securing the financing to unlock the potential, impact and innovation of cities is still a key issue, and that’s why it’s so important to bring together city, government and investment leaders through the C40 Financing Sustainable Cities Initiative. By developing financing solutions between city mayors and officials, and the investors who can unlock critical sustainability solutions, we’re building a sustainable urban future for generations to come”.