In the context of the UN Climate Summit, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) launched an Integrated Program on Sustainable Cities. The GEF is committing US$100 million to this initiative, including global coordination support, resources from countries interested in utilizing GEF allocations for this effort, and an incentive mechanism to match country allocations. The program will provide a safe and supported space for cities to experiment, reflect, share, and establish a sensible and rigorous framework of analysis.
Cities consume over two-thirds of global energy supply, and are responsible for 70% of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Cities are also uniquely vulnerable to climate change, with fourteen of the world’s 19 largest cities located in port areas and around 360 million people residing in urban coastal areas that are less than ten meters above the sea level. Cities have the opportunity to rethink urban design fundamentally, enhance resilience, and build in sustainability considerations. They also offer a robust platform to generate and disseminate technological, scientific, and social ideas, with potential for transformational impacts.
Revamped action at the local level during this pivotal moment when the urban demand for energy, housing, infrastructure, natural resources, land and other urban services is on the rise can have a significant impact at the global scale. The Sustainable Cities integrated program will establish a common platform for cities to access and share solutions around climate mitigation and adaptation, water, energy, and transport.
The common platform catalyzes the numerous partners now working on urban issues and supports the pilot with a few key cities willing to enter into an iterative, ‘organic’ network program, that at its core is designed to bring about the enormous potential cities possess to reduce local and global environmental degradation, while developing robust, resilient and equitable economies and communities.
The platform will unify two key elements:
- Sustainability plan. The GEF will support cities and urban areas to develop a clear, rolling plan that provides in one place, an agreed and vetted assessment of the challenges and opportunities facing the selected pilot city or urban area.
- Urban management tools. The tools, such as common metrics to quantify energy and material flows through urban metabolism assessment, are used to help cities develop and implement the sustainability plans.
Through the Sustainable Cities IAP, the GEF expects to leverage its unparalleled experience toward investing in integrated solutions to multiple environmental problems.