Both developing and developed countries are gathered in Durban, South Africa this week for the the United Nations international convention on climate change mitigation. But the tension is clear: developing countries, whose infrastructure is in many cases still severely lacking, face vastly different problems than developed countries.

On Monday, during the second week of UN Climate Change Conference 2011, the World Bank along with four other international development banks announced a climate change partnership in which they would develop a common approach to assessing the climate risk of cities, greenhouse gas emissions and appropriate measures for mitigation, in the process of international development.

“Considering that the rates of urbanization in Africa are the highest in the world, this is a timely initiative,” said Director of the African Development Bank’s Energy, Environment & Climate Change Department Hela Cheikhrouhou.

The Asian Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank joined the African Development Bank in the partnership.

“While cities account for over two-thirds of global energy consumption and an estimated 80% of global greenhouse gas emissions, they are also crucibles of innovation,” said the World Bank’s VP for Sustainable Development Rachel Kyte.

The World Bank has been trying for some time to tackle the issue of global climate change from the angle of cities. Early this June, World Bank President Robert Zoellick announced the group would be officially partnered with C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group headed by New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg. The Bank agreed at the time to give the C40 group critical help in collecting data from its member cities and providing a sense of uniformity to the collection of international members.

“This unique partnership with the World Bank will help solve many of the problems that cities face in obtaining financing for climate-related projects, both from the World Bank and other lenders,” Bloomberg said at the time.

Much of the focus of the C40 group is that mayors, not necessarily country presidents and prime ministers, are the ones that hold the keys to some of the most important climate change mitigation tools, particularly because cities tend to be the heaviest carbon emitters.

“C40 mayors have the power to take climate action – from transport to waste management to existing buildings, mayors have the authority to make a difference,” the C40 group said in June during its annual conference.

In July, Breaking Energy ran a week-long series, tagged “Urban” on climate change mitigation and energy efficiency measures in cities. Find the full series here.

Photo Caption: Monyombo Nomphelo, 13, calling on the South African government to plant more trees and provide every house with renewable energy in Durban on December 1, 2011 during the UN Climate Change Conference (COP17). A planned climate fund that would channel 100 billion dollars a year to poor countries hit a wall when a handful of nations baulked at adopting a draft submitted at UN talks.