Last week in Brussels, teams from the Global Covenant of Mayors (GCoM) and the City Climate Finance Gap Fund came together for a 3-day strategy retreat – a pivotal gathering aimed at accelerating climate action in cities worldwide. Before that, and recognizing the importance of collaboration and alignment, the GCoM Gap Fund team organized a series of virtual pre-retreat sessions with key strategic partners: CCFLA, CDP, ICLEI, the Urban Transition Mission (UTM), and Innovate4Cities. These interactive sessions served as a prelude to the in-person retreat, facilitating the exchange of updates, exploring avenues for synergistic partnerships, and preparing the team for the forthcoming discussions in Brussels.

The retreat kicked off by looking back at the Gap Fund’s 2023 accomplishments and lessons learned. Then the teams drilled down into the pipelines of city project ideas and funding requests streaming in from each region, and together with representatives from the World Bank, European Investment Bank, and GIZ, discussed the main needs coming from different geographies and how to best support cities in accessing the Gap Fund. 

Maximising synergies between GCoM’s city outreach and the Gap Fund’s expertise in delivering technical assistance emerged as a critical need. A highlight was undoubtedly the conversation around partnering more strategically with Regional Covenants of Mayors and partners such as CDP, ICLEI, CCLFA and C40. GCoM team members spotlighted successful collaborations already underway, where Covenants have opened doors to cities seeking for climate resources like the Gap Fund. There was enthusiasm about replicating those models and exploring new avenues for cross-regional cooperation.

As the retreat came to a close, the group rallied around a global 2024 engagement plan hitting key priority areas:

  • Raising awareness of the Gap Fund opportunity among more cities.
  • Elevating the quality of project ideas to advance in the project development cycle.
  • Creatively leveraging partnerships to extend the initiative’s reach.
  • Engagement with National Governments and key subnational financiers is crucial for steering cities into finance-ready proposals.