09/16/2014 06:50 pm ET Updated Nov 16, 2014

The Time to Act Is Now!

Climate change action: A matter of political will

We can no longer deny that the ways in which we fuel, feed, finance and secure our societies have long exceeded the sustainable limits of our ecosystems. We are facing a deepening global climate crisis that has not only caused ecological collapses but developed into the leading peace, security and development challenge.

It is therefore good news that next week world leaders are gathering in New York City to discuss climate solutions with UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon. After five years of inaction, climate change is back on the political agenda.

The Climate Summit could be a game-changer

At the Climate Summit, world leaders are asked to bring bold announcements and present actions that will reduce emissions, strengthen climate resilience and mobilize political will for a meaningful legal agreement in 2015. It is encouraging to see that over 100 world leaders and top negotiators are expected in New York.

The task by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon is simple: leaders have to promise the timely delivery of a global action plan by 2015, to ensure a safe climate for people and the planet. They also need to show the political will to ramp up actions at home. Therefore, our task as civil society is also simple: We must ensure that ignorance and in-action are no longer an option!

The upcoming Climate Summit has the potential to be a game-changer in the way we approach climate change: Instead of asking why things need to change, we have to finally start focusing on the how!

The good news is solutions exist

From America, to Europe, Africa, Asia and Oceania, we have seen significant changes in policies and attitudes that have set the path to more sustainable ways of living. Any Climate Action Plan that governments will be developing within the next year will require a set of coherent, wide-ranging policy reforms to tackle the root causes of the climate crisis.

Fortunately, we do not have to start from scratch. We are in a unique position where we can learn from pioneers who have shown us how it can be done. Now it is up to us to replicate and build on their success stories.

Across the world, hundreds of cities, communities, regions, islands and countries are demonstrating that 100 percent renewable energy is possible and an imperative target on the route to reduce carbon emission and create prosperous societies. Governments need to kick off the transition away from fossil fuels and towards community-based renewable power.

The Brazilian City Belo Horizonte demonstrates how a food security program can mitigate climate change and at the same time build a resilient agriculture that feeds 2.5 million inhabitants.

The City of Calgary is working hard to combat urban resource consumption and waste disposal -- issues that are widely regarded as the root cause of many of the world's environmental problems. By recycling and reusing wastewater, the pollution entering the ecosystem is dramatically reduced.

In Mexico City, the government has tackled raising emissions in the transport sector by passing a new law that prioritizes non-motorized transport and mass transit, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Inaction no longer an option

By looking at these examples, we can lay out the policy incentives required to build a world of growing solutions, rather than growing problems. It is essential that we highlight these best policies, engage our communities to spread the word about them and empower policy-makers to implement them. Action requires more than intent and good will: The time has come for world leaders to step up to the challenge, pull us back from the brink of irreversible tipping-points and navigate the world to a future that is sustainable for each and every one of us.

Let us join forces for the Climate Summit and beyond to ensure that ignorance and inaction are no longer an option!