The original 'R20' declaration – the 'R' stands for 'Regions' - was made at last year's global climate summit in Copenhagen, following an initiative by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger at the 'Global Summit on Climate Change', held in Los Angeles in September 2009.
The basic premise is to help willing and selected regions to design and implement their Climate Change and Energy Regional Package (CCERP). As well as bringing together leading regions with pre-existing devolved legislative power, the R20 will seek to develop the capacities of a limited number of interested sub-national governments from developing and emerging countries.
On Wednesday evening (15 September), at a side event of the World Energy Congress in Montreal, the plans for an R20 were fleshed out with considerable fanfare. An official launch for the new cooperation is expected in November.
As the concept has gathered pace, some major players have come to support the idea, most notably the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and global corporation GE Energy, which is a major player in developing 'green' technology and solutions in Europe.
In tandem with the Montreal World Energy Congress, which aims to be a forum for answers and solutions to the pressing questions of clean energy generation and smart grid technology ahead of the coming global climate summit in Mexico, the R20 is hoping to pool influence and impact in the fight against climate change.
Michele Sabban, president of the Assembly of European Regions, claimed the new body will "not be another talking shop," but an "action tank" as opposed to a think-tank.
According to the AER, and other R20 backers, while the role of world leaders at events like the Copenhagen or Mexico gatherings is clear – i.e. negotiating a legally-binding global treaty - the importance of regions, large and small, in implementing that treaty will be vital.
This role will require the approval and funding of many new clean energy generation and smart grid infrastructure projects and the communication of important energy saving messages to the public, meaning that national, regional and local politicians could potentially block the progress of any global deal.
To head off such problems in advance, Governor Schwarzenegger is busy building consensus for working together now.
Because the financial aspects of climate negotiations remain the sticking point in global summits, the proposed R20 is placing finance firmly at the forefront of its agenda.
Public-private partnerships, in particular, are viewed as a key tool to make these changes happen. For example, speaking in Montreal, Terry Tamminen, a New York-based venture capitalist at Pegasus Capital Advisers, laid out broad plans to start a 'Green Investment Bank' to bring R20 members, projects, partnerships and money closer together.
Industry representatives took a similar approach, spelling out a number of possible immediate solutions. Firstly, Ricardo Cordoba, president of GE Energy Western Europe, pointed to the benefits of regions taking up a technical partnership such as theirs with the Assembly of European Regions. According to Cordoba, such partnerships provide the benefit to policymakers of crafting policy, guidelines and regulations that have a real world relevance.