03/07/2014 06:01 EST | Updated 05/07/2014 05:59 EDT

Congratulations to Canada's 2014 Earth Hour City Capital!

This morning, I was proud to shake Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson's hand and congratulate the City of Edmonton on being named Canada's Earth Hour City Capital for 2014.

Edmonton is a booming Canadian city and it's already fast proving itself a national leader in sustainable city action. So I'm delighted to see the Earth Hour City Challenge jury -- made up of experts from around the world -- recognize Edmonton's vision for a carbon neutral future and the practical steps its taking to achieve its ambitious goals.

It's the perfect place to kick off WWF's Earth Hour Tour: Out of the Dark, Into the Future -- a conversation with Canadians across fields and across the country about climate solutions. Hosted by the University of Alberta and the City of Edmonton, I'm joining a panel of city experts to envision a future where climate change is no longer a threat. We'll be talking about what this world could look like and how cities like Edmonton are leading the way to make this vision a reality. It's a terrific start to this conversation, which we'll continue in Halifax on March 21 and Toronto on March 25, and during Earth Hour on March 29, 8:30-9:30 p.m.

There has never been a more important moment to showcase the critical role that cities play in tackling climate change. As we've witnessed just this past year, in places like Calgary, New York and Toronto, municipalities are where we see both climate impacts and potential. From major floods to massive ice storms, this is where and how climate change will be experienced by everyday people. As we see these impacts grow, cities need to prepare for a future that may look very different. They also have the opportunity to design -- through infrastructure and policy decisions -- a foundation for urban prosperity that is both sustainable and inclusive. These are lessons that we can learn from Edmonton.

Two other cities leading the way on this are our other Canadian finalists. I also congratulate both possible and achievable. Surrey was awarded a Special Mention by the international jury led by Christiana Figueres, of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, for its increased use of renewable energy through innovative waste-to-energy solutions. The City of North Vancouver was highlighted for its commitment to going carbon neutral by 2107.

I look forward to meeting with these cities and others on March 27, when the Global Earth Hour Capital winner will be announced at an award ceremony hosted by the 2013 global champion, the City of Vancouver. While in B.C., I will join city delegates from around the world to gather at Globe 2014 forum to share their success stories and explore ways to finance green city initiatives.

I'd like to thank all 11 Canadian city entrants to this year's challenge and invite you to get involved. You can still vote for your favourite green city to win the We Love Cities people's choice award until March 21. And you can start encouraging your city to join the Challenge next year. It's a great opportunity for all of us and the places we call to home to look at how far we've come together. And a chance to be inspired and empowered by the solutions all around us, powered by cities around the world.