The Human Cities Coalition (HCC) brings together more than 150 stakeholders and 20 partners, such as Arcadis, Philips and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to help achieve Goal 11 of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – sustainable cities and communities.

The aim of the HCC is to reach out to millions of people suffering from issues such as poor sanitation, inadequate basic services and flooding in major cities.

Launching the initiative yesterday (21 April), AkzoNobel chief executive Ton Büchner said: “One billion people are currently living in slums around the world, and that number is expected to rise to three billion in 2050 as a result of rapid urbanisation. AkzoNobel has made cities more liveable and inspiring for years through our Human Cities Initiative.

“In 2016, we reached more than nine million people. The HCC is a way to make an even bigger difference in society, build sustainable partnerships and generate business opportunities and innovations at the same time.”

HCC will focus on building liveable cities through new innovative solutions, financing mechanisms, basic services delivery and better inclusion of grassroots organisations in urban planning. The coalition will use a combination of bottom-up and top-down processes which encourage urban communities to help build scalable, commercial viable solutions alongside the private sector.

Two pilot projects have recently started in Jakarta in Indonesia and Manila in the Philippines, and the programme will scale-up and expand to more cities in the near future.

HCC directors Fleur Henderson and Ronald Lenz explained that the HCC will use a blended finance model to attract public and private capital. “We distinguish ourselves from other urban initiatives by the large role of the private sector in our coalition,” the pair commented. “We are convinced this will have an enormous impact on the livelihood of the poor.”

Smart city growth

The current model of urbanisation looks unsustainable if the world is to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon, resource-efficient world. Already, the world’s urban areas account for the vast majority of resource consumption, accounting for some 70% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The next chapter in the urbanisation story will prove pivotal. By 2050, there will be an additional 2.5 billion new people in the world – all of which will be living in urban areas. Aided by significant business involvement, cities around the world will need to find innovative ways to improve areas such as public transport, infrastructure capacity, toxic air quality levels.

As part of edie’s series of exclusive thought-leadership articles on the global impact of megatrends, PwC’s director of cities and urbanisation, Dan Dowling, explored how urbanisation and smart city growth can be a powerful force for sustainable development and shared prosperity, if it’s managed correctly.

George Ogleby

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie