What Is The Global Covenant Of Mayors & What Has It Achieved?

by Yara van Ingen


The Global Covenant of Mayors (for Climate and Energy) (GCoM) is an alliance for city climate leadership; it is the largest in the world consisting of 11,500 cities and local governments from 142 countries across six continents. The Global Covenant of Mayors represents over 1 billion citizens [1]. The GCoM was founded in 2016 when the already existing Compact of Mayors (2014) and EU’s Covenant of Mayors (2008) alliances were merged [2] [3].

The GCoM aims to engage and encourage towns and cities to cut greenhouse gas emissions, addressing two UN Sustainable Development Goals: SDG 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities, and SDG 13 Climate Action [4]. For example, in the GCoM, signatories have pledged to implement the 40% greenhouse gas reduction target by 2030 [3].

The GCoM mobilises cities and local governments to bridge the knowledge gap, improve access to information, establish partnerships with data and climate providers, and engage with financial institutions that have relevant tools to facilitate these efforts. Three core initiatives have been developed for this: Data4Cities, Innovate4Cities, and Invest4Cities. The first, Data4Cities, supports evidence-based measurement and management of local governments’ individual ambition and progress to enable direct comparison and facilitate innovation. The second, Invest4Climate focuses on access to and assistance for financial investment in urban climate change projects. The last, Innovate4Cities, concentrates on partnerships for innovation, technology, and research to equip cities with the tools to meet their climate ambitions [5].

Achievements of the Covenant of Mayors

As of 2021, more than three quarters of GCoM signatories have set goals that exceed their countries’ national targets, more than half of which aim to achieve greenhouse gas emission reductions sooner. Based on targets and actions, the GCoM cities and local governments could reduce global emissions by 1.9 GtCO2e annually in 2030, compared to a business-as-usual trajectory. This is calculated to accumulate to 76.5 GtCO2e in 2050, which is more than double the global energy-related CO2 emissions in 2019 [6].

The GCoM’s Common Reporting Framework aims to improve data collection and global measurements of the effects of climate change and mitigation and adaptation actions. By 2021, 609 cities and governments reported more than 1,400 high risk climate hazards, a 250% increase from 2019. More than half of the GCoM signatories have reported at least one action corresponding to a high risk hazard, focusing on water (27%), buildings (25%), and health (20%) and adding up to 100,000 climate actions implemented at the local level [6].

The GCoM estimates that mitigation and adaptation actions by cities and local governments’ would require $690 billion. In contrast, in 2017/18 $384 billion were made available as urban climate financing of which 97% was dedicated to mitigation and only 2% to adaptation. Implementing the proposed actions alone could create up to 11 million new jobs [6].


The GCoM has successfully built upon and expanded the successes of previous alliances; the Compact of Mayors and the EU Covenant of Mayors, with its collective member cities now comprising more than 12% of global population. The GCoM has three key success factors: (1) its bottom-up governance, (2) a multi-level cooperation model, and (3) a context-driven action framework [7]. 

[1] The Largest Global Alliance for City Climate Leadership, Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy, https://www.globalcovenantofmayors.org/who-we-are/, accessed on 25th October 2022
[2] Compact of Mayors: The biggest collaboration to accelerate climate action, United Cities and Local Governments, https://www.uclg.org/en/node/23789, accessed on 25th October 2022
[3] Covenant of Mayors – Europe, European Commission, https://www.covenantofmayors.eu/, accessed on 25th October 2022.
[4] Covenant of Mayors, Climate ADAPT, https://climate-adapt.eea.europa.eu/en/eu-adaptation-policy/covenant-of-mayors, accessed on 25th October 2022
[5] Our Initiatives, Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy, https://www.globalcovenantofmayors.org/our-initiatives-new/, accessed on 25th October 2022
[6] The 2021 Global Covenant of Mayors Impact Report, Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy, https://www.globalcovenantofmayors.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/21-1109-GCoM-2021-Annual-Report-optimized.pdf, accessed on 25th October 2022
[7] Origins and Development, Covenant of Mayors Europe, European Commission, https://www.covenantofmayors.eu/about/covenant-initiative/origins-and-development.html , accessed on 25th October 2022

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