Fourth United Nations Environment Assembly Cities Summit

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The global economy and population is growing, but the planet is not. We have to be smarter and more circular in the way we grow our cities where we expect an additional 2.5 billion people by 2050. Already sixty percent of our waste and three quarters of resource use and GHG emissions come from cities making them the best place to promote sustainable consumption and production. Taking a dual lens of SDGs 11 – Sustainable Cities, and 12 – Sustainable Consumption and Production allows us to implement solutions at city level to contribute to most if not all other SDGs.

Taking an integrated approach to urban infrastructure will be key to accelerate the transitions to circular and low-carbon economies. According to the “Weight of Cities” by the International Resource Panel, cities can achieve some 30-55% reduction of GHG emissions, water and metal consumption and land-use compared to baseline projections by leveraging connections and resource sharing across urban systems such as green buildings, district energy systems, bus rapid transport, the transition to renewables combined with strategic densification. Within cities, integrated urban projects are piloted where cost-effective, but often without being linked to a broader policy and planning approach at the local and national levels. This results in missed opportunities and isolated demonstrations that are not replicated, scaled up, or considered in the context of sustainable development and climate strategies.