World Bank backs $1.15bn movement to future-proof developing cities

A new $1.15bn global platform aimed at boosting investment and implementing sustainable practices across an array of developing cities around the world has been launched, after receiving financial backing from the World Bank and Global Environment Facility (GEF).

GEF has contributed $151m to the Global Platform for Sustainable Cities (GPSC) project, which is expected to surpass $1bn in financial investment as cities in Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa are introduced to the knowledge-sharing platform which will provide access to ‘cutting-edge’ green technology.

GEF chief executive Naoki Ishii said: “If planned and managed well, compact, resilient, inclusive, and resource-efficient cities can drive development, growth, and the creation of jobs, while also contributing to a healthier, better quality of life for residents and the long-term protection of the global environment.

“In a rapidly-urbanising world, how we design and build the cities of the future will play a critical role in protecting the global commons, the planet’s finite environmental resources that have provided for the stable conditions enjoyed by humanity for thousands of years.”

The five-year programme will reach more than 23 developing cities across 11 countries and provide cities with ways to help confront issues like climate change, air pollution and carbon reductions.

The GPSC will offer workshops and online data to cities in an attempt to promote and integrated effort to tackle multi-sector sustainability issues. GEF hopes that case studies provided by the original 23 cities can be shared with hundreds of other cities in a global best practice movement.

Urban movement

Cities are currently consuming two-thirds of global-energy supply, with research suggesting that they are responsible for 70% of carbon emissions. By 2050, it is believed that the number of city-dwellers with rise by 50% – the platform will aim to help mayors make informed decisions during this transition.

With developing countries receiving a timely, financial boost, the attention turns to developed cities. During the recent Paris climate talks, 640 Mayors gathered to announce plans for cities to deliver annual a combined annual reduction of 3.7 gigatons in emissions by 2030. Last year it was revealed that 172 major companies, cities and regions had dually committed to 100% renewable energy or reducing emissions by 80-100%.

US President Barack Obama has announced his administration will invest more than $160m in innovative technology across a range of American cities in an attempt to help local communities tackle key sustainability challenges. The aftermath of this pledge saw San Diego and San Francisco agree to halve their emission over the next 20 years.

Meanwhile, in the UK, the ex-European Green Capital city of Bristol made a bold pledge to accelerate its already-ambitious climate targets and pursue complete carbon neutrality by 2050.

Matt Mace

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