Today, half of our global population resides in cities, and urban dwellers will account for almost 70 percent of our planet by 2050. The U.S. census shows an even greater slice of the pie for the urban population in America, about 80% or 250 million people. So it’s not surprising that cities are producing 70 percent of global carbon emissions and generating 1.3 billion tons of waste each year. Doesn’t it make sense, then, that our city leaders, local officials, and community planners hold the keys to unlocking the potential of cities to positively affect how most of us will live in the foreseeable future?
Ani Dasgupta, the leader of World Resource Institute’s Sustainable Cities initiative, makes a strong case that cities provide an ideal testbed for incubating climate change solutions. After all, cities are the Home Sweet Home for a diverse group of stakeholders — including small and large business owners, academic institutions, faith organizations, families, students, and workers — who all share a vested interest in improving their quality of life. This makes city and community leaders uniquely suited to building productive coalitions, facilitating collaboration, and engaging the public toward driving local economic opportunities, without sacrificing clean and safe air, water, food, energy, transportation, and housing.
And while mega-cities like New York and Los Angeles often garner more attention, our smaller cities are just as important, and some of the fastest growing. Adapting other cities’ success stories and climate solutions to best meet local needs remains a core challenge. As Ani Dasgupta describes, “No two cities are the same. To strike the balance between global best practice and local context, we need to focus on how city leaders can make sustainable solutions a reality not just in a few cities, but worldwide. We need to help cities find the locally crafted solutions that can help them become connected, compact, and coordinated.”
Please join us on the Path to Positive and learn more about how to prioritize policies to promote inclusive, equitable, sustainable development and prosperity in your own smart cities.
2015 is a year of utmost importance for the global sustainable development agenda, and cities will play a pivotal role. Landmark global decisions over the next 12 months provide opportunities to unlock the potential of cities and improve quality of life for billions worldwide.
TheCityFix sat down with Ani Dasgupta, Global Director of WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities and speaker at the upcoming Transforming Transportation 2015 conference, to learn more about the unique solutions cities can offer to combat climate change, boost economic prosperity, and catalyze smart urbanization.
1. Why are cities so crucial to action on global climate change and sustainable development?
We often talk about how much cities contribute to climate change, accounting for 70% of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions, for example. But this overshadows the fact that cities are also incubators for the solutions to climate change. Overwhelmingly, the most ambitious and innovative actions to reduce emissions and improve quality of life are happening at the city level. The Climate Action in Megacities 2.0 report from the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group provides multiple examples of these actions.