13/11/2013 06:23 GMT | Updated 23/01/2014 18:58 GMT

Momentum for Change: How a Groundswell for Climate Action Is Building

One of the most rewarding parts of my job is seeing the enormous groundswell of activities underway across the world designed to address climate change.

They are driven by thousands of people, often in partnership with business, governments and industry, to provide climate change solutions for their cities and communities.

Their work doesn't always capture headlines, but should. They're providing inspirational examples that can be replicated elsewhere, increasing the overall level of ambition towards reaching an international agreement on climate change.

I was pleased to announce 17 of these projects this week as 2013 Lighthouse Activities under the United Nations Climate Change secretariat's Momentum for Change initiative. These activities shine a light on the work being done throughout the world to build a low-carbon, resource efficient world. Not only are these activities tackling climate change, they are also generating health, financial and social benefits in the communities where they take place. They are true beacons of hope, demonstrating what happens when innovation and passion come together to address the biggest challenge of our time.

While details of all 17 lighthouse activities are available on our newly revamped website, I'd like to provide a few examples that highlight the scope of work.

In Australia, women are building a movement to take action on climate change in their households, workplaces and communities. The organization 1 Million Women has a simple goal with a big impact: get one million women to pledge to take small steps in their daily lives that save energy, reduce waste, cut pollution and lead change.

In Ghana, propelled by women's leadership, the Ghana Bamboo Bikes Initiative is tackling climate change and generating green jobs by building bamboo bicycles. The initiative has double-barreled climate benefits: it reduces emissions not only from the transportation sector but also from the bicycle production process. Propelled by women's leadership, it is also improving the lives of many rural Ghanaians, women in particular, by creating employment opportunities and stimulating economic growth.

In Mexico, a program called ECOCASA is helping Mexico tackle climate change by unlocking financing to build low-carbon housing and increasing the number of mortgages for low-carbon housing. Providing financing to build more sustainable houses will help lower energy consumption and spending, as well as strengthen government policies and initiatives.

In Guatemala, a Lighthouse Activity supports women farmers who are planting trees to sequester carbon and improve farming techniques. It also builds efficient stoves that reduce both the negative health impacts caused by smoke inhalation and the need to cut down trees for fuel.

Finally, in India, one project aims to bring solar energy to Bangalore's slums and create green jobs, while in Sudan, the Low Smoke Stoves Project is delivering health and economic benefits to the strife-torn region of Darfur, where climate change is a fact of life.

Each of these 17 activities are examples of what can be accomplished when the private sector and civil society work together to achieve climate change solutions that improve the health and economies of their cities and communities.

The activities will be showcased as part of a series of special events on the growing groundswell of climate action at the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference in Warsaw, Poland. For those unable to make it to the conference, we're hosting a Google Hangout on November 13, 2013 to provide a chance for people to meet the activity representatives.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the 16-member international advisory panel for its work in selecting the lighthouse activities.

I am convinced that this year's Lighthouse Activities will inspire practical ideas for action in communities throughout the world. Each of us has a role to play in meeting the climate challenge, and sharing success helps raise ambition and scale up the global commitment to act on climate change.