Katrin Stjernfeldt Jammeh , Source: ICLEI

Katrin Stjernfeldt Jammeh: True urban development must be inclusive and affordable, otherwise it’s not sustainable

Katrin Stjernfeldt Jammeh: True urban development must be inclusive and affordable, otherwise it’s not sustainable

An interview with the newly elected ICLEI President and Mayor of Malmö

Katrin Stjernfeldt Jammeh has officially stepped in as the new ICLEI President at the ICLEI World Congress 2024, which took place last week in São Paulo (Brazil). We caught up with her to talk about what’s in store for the global organisation representing local interests.

Katrin Stjernfeldt Jammeh (Malmö, 1974) is the first woman to occupy the chairman’s seat of the municipal board of Malmö (the local equivalent of a mayor). She took that position on 1 July 2013.

Madame Mayor, congratulations on being named the new President of ICLEI - a global organisation representing 2,600 local and regional governments. What will be your strategy to find a position that unifies so many diverse interests?

Thank you! It's an honour to lead such a diverse and dynamic organization. ICLEI is a strong global force and an important network that gives voice to the cities globally. The diverse, global reach of the network is also its strength.

The cities and regions that have joined ICLEI have done so because they believe in a sustainable future and know that we are stronger together. By emphasizing our common objectives, we can align our efforts and share best practices.

What is your vision of ICLEI’s mission? Are there any new frontiers that you would like to push to be explored during your term?

The ICLEI World Congress just held in São Paulo reinforced my belief in ICLEI’s strategy towards zero emission, nature-based, equitable, resilient and circular development. Because the world needs systemic change.

Cities account for 70% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, and I will work to get more influence and more funding at the local level. Also, I believe that true urban sustainable development must be inclusive and affordable, otherwise, it’s not sustainable. We need to put people at the centre of our work.

What are your main takeaways from the ICLEI World Congress in Sao Paulo?

It has been truly empowering to meet face-to-face at the World Congress in São Paulo and feel the power of local action and global collaboration. We are now more determined and inspired to get the work done.

Key takeaways include the need for increased funding and resources, and influence, at the local level to effectively combat climate change. The Congress also reinforced the importance of inclusive policies that address social inequalities while driving environmental sustainability.

What hinders the creation of effective and efficient multilevel governance on a global scale in your experience?

Local governments often lack the necessary funding and influence to implement comprehensive sustainability initiatives, even though it is the local level that has both the will and pragmatism to create systemic change.

Additionally, when national governments step back from their commitments, our work gets even harder. We need stronger frameworks for collaboration and communication across all levels of government. Elevating local voices to national and global policy discussions is crucial to reaching more effective multilevel governance for sustainability.

Malmö is certainly not afraid to be seen as a city that tries bold innovations. What kind of practical and relatable advice can your city offer to the rest of the world? Likewise, can Swedish cities get new inspiration from cities in the Global South, for example?

Absolutely, Swedish cities have much to learn from the Global South. Not the least concerning the preservation of green spaces, dealing with flooding and other natural disasters and the inclusion of indigenous people.

Just as we have much to learn, we also have much to share. The City of Malmö has gone through a climate-smart transition that could serve as inspiration for others. We have the ambition to become climate-neutral by 2030, a goal that is certainly within our reach. This can only be done by getting all actors and citizens on board. For example, the construction sector in Malmö aims to become climate-neutral by 2030 as well. The key word in Malmö’s transition is “together”, as this is the only way to become truly sustainable as a society.



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