In an effort to support cities to achieve a greener future, a new Urban Sustainability Framework (USF), launched today by the World Bank and the Global Environment Facility (GEF), serves as a guide for cities seeking to enhance their sustainability.
Launched at the ninth session of the World Urban Forum (WUF9)*, taking place February 7 - 13, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, this guide supports cities along the sustainability pathway, from creating a vision to identifying financial resources to implement their plans.
The USF lays out six key dimensions of urban sustainability: governance and integrated planning, fiscal sustainability, economic competitiveness, environment and resource efficiency, low carbon and resilience, and social inclusiveness. The Framework is a collaboration among cities, organizations, and experts who have contributed to the development of the Framework.
“We are confident that through this collaboration, a shared vision and common approach to urban sustainable development can be forged. We invite cities to use the framework to meet the challenges they face today and in the coming decades, and we enthusiastically look forward to the collaborative efforts to adopt an integrated approach to urban sustainability,” said GEF CEO and Chairperson Naoko Ishii.
The new USF guidance document includes a “Four-Stage Approach” for cities to improve their sustainability status through the following process: defining a vision with priorities, determining financing, and, finally, monitoring and evaluating their project implementation progress.
“The USF assists cities to identify their sustainability aspirations and establish how they will finance their implementation plans. These two very important stages of the process go hand in hand,” said Ming Zhang, World Bank Practice Manager for Urban Development. “A special aspect of the USF is that it provides a corresponding selection of forward-looking methods and tools which peer cities are using to successfully finance and implement their projects.”
Cities can understand the USF’s dimensions of urban sustainability by using its “Measuring Framework”, which includes a selection of indicators that help cities track their progress toward their sustainability goals, while comparing against their peers, to promote an integrated approach to sustainability.
The USF is part of a larger collaboration for knowledge exchange on sustainable urban planning. Financed by the GEF and led by the World Bank, the Global Platform for Sustainable Cities (GPSC) was launched in March 2016. It was designed to meet the need for an enabling environment – a platform – that allows cities to exchange ideas, share experiences, use analytical tools, and, most importantly, steer investment toward long-term sustainability.
The GPSC assists cities in tapping into cutting-edge knowledge and expertise on topics ranging from urban planning to low-carbon strategy, transit-oriented development, and sustainable financing. Together with various partners in the urban realm, the GPSC is creating a suite of knowledge products and tools that will help cities drive their development agenda. The platform currently comprises of 28 cities from 11 countries.
An important collaborator joined the platform at WUF9 with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the city of Aarhus, Denmark, and the World Bank. Through the MOU, Denmark’s second largest city becomes a knowledge partner of the GPSC.
“Aarhus is very excited to become a GPSC knowledge partner and the opportunity this presents to collaborate with cities on a world-wide scale. We definitely have worthwhile experiences to share with our peers, and likewise hope to learn from others. Through this knowledge exchange, Aarhus can reflect upon our own policies and practices and work toward improving the city’s urban sustainability,” said Jacob Bundsgaard, Mayor of Aarhus.
GPSC and Aarhus will be collaborating in the following areas:
- sustainable, integrated planning strategies;
- low carbon development towards the goal of carbon neutrality;
- adaptation and resilience; and
- water management
"The GPSC builds a strong partnership with cities around the world to share cutting-edge knowledge. We look forward to working with the city of Aarhus to bring its urban sustainability knowledge and insights to many other cities," said Xueman Wang, Program Manager for the GPSC.
* The World Urban Forum is convened by UN-Habitat, and brings together policymakers, local government leaders, non-governmental organizations, and expert practitioners in the field of sustainable urban development and human settlements. The theme of this year’s WUF9 is Cities 2030 – Cities for All: Implementing the New Urban Agenda.
To find out about the GEF’s Sustainable Cities program and the GPSC watch our video.
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