20 Mar 2016
Global Platform for Sustainable Cities initiative launches in Singapore

City leaders and urban specialists from around the world met at Urban Week 2016 in Singapore for the launch of the Global Platform for Sustainable Cities (GPSC) – an initiative designed to help mayors and other municipal leaders take more informed decisions in the day-to-day management so as to transform them cities into inclusive, sustainable and resilient hubs for growth.

The platform is a knowledge sharing and management program that forms part of the Sustainable Cities Integrated Approach Pilot (SC-IAP) supporting cities to improve access to clean water, energy, and transport. 

Funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), it is expected to mobilise up to $1.5 billion over the next five years for urban sustainability programs in 11 developing countries, including Brazil, Cote D’Ivoire, China, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Senegal, South Africa, and Vietnam.

The UN Global Compact – Cities Programme was represented by Dr Brendan Barrett and Michael Young.

This landmark event brought together over 200 participants from national, subnational and city governments, research institutes, international organisations including various UN agencies, the GEF, the World Bank Group and the private sector.

“The sustainable cities initiative represents a new phase for the Global Environment Facility which is mandated to focus on projects that support the major environmental conventions.” said Barrett.

The GPSC aims to provide cities with ways to help confront issues like climate change, to which cities are uniquely vulnerable, as almost half a billion urban residents live in coastal areas, increasing their exposure to storm surges and sea level rise.

Cities also consume over two-thirds of global energy supply, and are responsible for 70 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions. 

“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,” said Naoko Ishii, GEF CEO and Chairperson.

“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.” 

“It is recognition from the GEF CEO, Naoko Ishii, of the essential role that cities play in responding to our pressing global challenges and more importantly on the need to develop integrated solutions at the local level,” said Barrett.

The GPSC will work with a core group of 23 cities, but will reach many more by sharing of data, experiences, ideas, and solutions to urban challenges and by linking the knowledge to finance that will influence investment flows toward building cities’ long-term urban sustainability.   

Michael Young, our Chief Advisor for Asia, viewed the event as a valuable opportunity to build relationships with cities in the region.

“The range of sustainability projects presented by the 23 cities was impressive in terms of their diversity and level of ambition,” said Young.

“We had the chance to sit down and talk with the representatives from a number of cities about their projects and explore areas of potential collaboration.”

“We also explained the work of the UN Global Compact – Cities Programme particularly our tools and research related to urban sustainability,” he said.

“There was considerable interest in our City Scan Diagnostic tool.”

The products and services provided by the GPSC will include studies, workshops, and online data that will leverage existing expertise in order to promote an integrated approach to tackling complex, multi-sector issues.

With common metrics and guidelines in place, the lessons learned from the core group of 23 cities can also be shared with hundreds of other cities via a wide range of city networks and other partners.

“Building partnerships with leading international players such as GEF, the World Bank and other key players is crucial for advancing the global sustainability agenda in the Asia region” said Barrett.

Story: Chanel Bearder