City2City
Cebu City partners with UNDP for ‘circular economy’ project
Mayor Michael Rama discussed future collaborations with UNDP on "circular economy" projects that will foster recycling in Cebu City villages, during their courtesy call on Thursday (Feb. 3, 2022). Cebu City is among the 11 localities in the Philippines chosen for the development program funding portfolio.

Cebu City partners with UNDP for ‘circular economy’ project

by John Rey Saavedra | Originally published on 4 February 2022 | Philippines News Agency

CEBU CITY – The city government here will collaborate with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in promoting “circular economy”, a program that fosters recycling in the neighborhood, Mayor Michael Rama said Friday.

In a statement, he said he met with officials of the UNDP’s Typhoon Odette Recovery and Shield Mission to discuss prospects of formulating projects involving the city’s drainage and garbage collection system.

(Photo courtesy of Cebu City PIO)

He said the city is thankful for being chosen as among the 11 localities in the country that will receive aid from the UNDP to finance projects related to environmental conservation through recycling.

The mayor thanked UNDP program analyst Gwyneth Anne Palmos, governance specialist Jonathan Hodder, and program associate Paul Villarico for considering the city as one of the beneficiaries of their program.

He said the UNDP personnel visited him in his office at the City Hall on Thursday to discuss the proposal.

“They came to the Cebu City Hall last Wednesday to get information that will help their research for the preparation of what would be implemented here in Cebu,” he said.

Rama welcomed the projects that will be funded by the UNDP in the amount of PHP700 million.

The team also visited Talisay City and met with Mayor Gerald Anthony Gullas to talk about areas of project development, which the UN organization could support for funding.

“We talked about our ongoing response to the damages brought by the Typhoon Odette together with the city's department heads,” Gullas said in a separate statement.

He said the team assessed the needs of the residents of Talisay to know which area needs more help. “I'm thankful that the United Nations Development Programme made an initiative to visit our city during these very difficult times,” he added.

Based in New York, USA, UNDP is tasked with helping countries eliminate poverty and achieve sustainable economic growth and human development. (PNA)

Retrieved from https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1167072

5 Priorities for Cities After COP26

As was once again made clear at COP26, cities are ready to step up and lead: More than 1,000 cities are now signed up for the Cities Race to Zero pledge and there were important commitments to reverse forest loss and curb methane emissions. But the resources cities need to deliver on their ambitions remain slim.

Now that the dust has settled from Glasgow, what does COP26 mean for cities? As we reflect on the outcomes, five priorities stand out for cities and national governments to focus on.

5 Priorities for Cities After COP26

By  and  | Posted on TheCityFix by World Resources Institute (WRI) Ross Center for Sustainable Cities on 8 December 2021

Without getting cities right, we cannot solve the climate crisis. Contributing to 75% of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions, it is impossible to overstate their central role. Cities’ choices influence and can drive change in every system that needs to be decarbonized and made resilient, from transport to food to energy. As the 2018 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change noted, cities — with their concentration of people, economic activity and infrastructure — are among the most powerful levers we have to drive decarbonization and build resilience fast enough to meet the Paris goals.

The Coalition for Urban Transitions has identified climate action in cities as an opportunity that could net $24 trillion in benefits by 2050, while reducing urban emissions by 90%. And cities are acutely vulnerable to climate impacts: 800 million people living in cities are vulnerable to sea level rise of half a meter by 2050, and cities will face the brunt of extreme heat due to heat island effects.

Unfortunately, the national support needed by cities to adapt and seize this opportunity remains largely missing. National delegations naturally take center stage at COPs, and this remained the case at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow. The Paris Agreement goals will never be met unless and until the crucial contributions of cities are fully recognized, reflected in climate action plans (or Nationally Determined Contributions, NDCs) and enabled and supported by national governments.

As was once again made clear at COP26, cities are ready to step up and lead: More than 1,000 cities are now signed up for the Cities Race to Zero pledge and there were important commitments to reverse forest loss and curb methane emissions. But the resources cities need to deliver on their ambitions remain slim.

Now that the dust has settled from Glasgow, what does COP26 mean for cities? As we reflect on the outcomes, five priorities stand out for cities and national governments to focus on:

1. Bridge the Gap Between City Action and NDCs

There is a massive missed opportunity in failing to more systematically link climate action by cities to enhanced national climate action plans. The symbiosis is obvious: Cities need more ambitious NDCs to achieve their science-based targets, and national governments need cities to realize the full urban greenhouse gas mitigation potential.

A more concerted effort is therefore essential to make the case that city action contributes to and enhances national climate targets. This requires further research and analysis, specifically to quantify and demonstrate the added contribution of city-led climate action to meeting national climate targets. Furthermore, data that is being collected by cities (increasingly disclosed through the unified CDP-ICLEI reporting system) needs to be more consistently fed back up to national authorities.

The DK2020 project in Denmark, though not a government-led effort, could show a different way forward, as a climate action plan that starts with 95 cities each using a common planning framework developed by C40 and building up to what’s needed for the 1.5 degrees C goal.

The Coalition for Urban Transitions’ Seizing the Urban Opportunity report hones in on six emerging economies (together responsible for 41% of greenhouse gas emissions) and provides clear guidance and data aimed at national authorities on why and how to bring cities into the fold. Solving this disconnect is crucial to achieving a green and just transition.

2. Use Integrated Climate Action to Guide City Planning and Priority Setting

The 1,000+ cities that have signed up for Cities Race to Zero have committed to reach net-zero by 2050 at the latest. This is an incredible achievement.

Another initiative, the Cities Race to Resilience, was launched in July 2021 to address adaptation in a similar fashion, but so far it’s unfortunately gotten less traction and only a few dozen cities have signed up. The metrics for adaptation are not clear and unified, yet extreme weather events keep taking their toll, with the highest exposure in cities.

Cities cannot afford to address mitigation and adaptation as two independent workstreams and should instead focus their efforts on integrated climate action that also incorporates public health, equity and other sustainable development objectives.

Climate action cannot be seen as just another entry in a list, but as the one helping to prioritize comprehensive action across departments and sectors. Emphasizing co-benefits is key to get the broad support needed within bureaucracies and from constituencies. But to maximize the health, social and economic benefits of emission reductions, cities must also be prepared to deliver coherent policies and measures that manage the potential trade-offs. 

Integrated climate action can deliver cleaner air, greener and safer cities, more equitable mobility, and new jobs. Retrofitting buildings, for example, is one of the impactful climate actions in terms of the cost of emissions reductions as well as creating jobs, and it is essential to meeting any net-zero goal. Every $1 invested in retrofits can produce as much as $2 in benefits.

3. Develop a More Comprehensive Approach to Sustainable Mobility

COP26 was the turn in the spotlight for electric vehicles, with countries, the private sector, and global institutions such as the Global Environment Facility stepping up support and commitments around zero-emission vehicles. Ambitious scale up of electric vehicles is necessary, but we also know that electric vehicles alone cannot solve the climate crisis. It will take a lot more than engines to fix our issues — including much more investment in active mobility and public transport, smarter land use, and reducing investments in unnecessary vehicle infrastructure.

For the sake of our climate and the functioning of our cities, we need a broader view of sustainable mobility at future climate summits.

Active mobility and public transport in particular require serious attention to make sure cities stay accessible for all and to improve road safety and livability. The Transport Decarbonization Initiative paper on financing active mobility and WRI’s safe bike lanes guide are examples of how to bridge the gap to implementation and move from the what to the how. This more robust approach to sustainable mobility can also support green recovery efforts the world over.

4. Use Nature-based Solutions to Manage Water and Build Resilience

This was the self-proclaimed “nature COP,” with ambitious pledges to halt and reverse deforestation and water at long last gaining a “seat at the table.”

Urbanization and water scarcity and variability are converging in sharp ways. WRI’s Urban Water Resilience in Africa initiative launched the Addis Ababa Water Resilience Action Plan to bring a diverse field of urban stakeholders in the region together to think more holistically about water and identify visions and actions for implementation. With many African countries seeing the demand for water triple, water is impacting the way we plan and manage cities and exacerbating deep deficiencies in access to basic services. Bringing water supply, water management and water adaptation measures in sync, cities have an opportunity to capture supplies during peaks, manage droughts during downturns, and think through decentralized systems to provide cheaper and safer water to informal and disenfranchised communities.

WaterAid’s Resilient Water Accelerator and WRI’s new “Catalytic Fund” for scaling water resilience in African cities are part of complementary trends working to address urban water issues at scale. Better water management and resilience goes hand in hand with scaling nature-based solutions that help to mitigate urban heat islands, provide cleaner air, capture and purify water, and create more quality public spaces.

5. Put Equity and Inclusion at the Center of City Action

One in three urban dwellers globally lack access to one or more key services, like reliable electricity or safe water and sanitation. Nine of 10 people are breathing polluted air, with a disproportionate share of the burden of disease and mortality falling on poorer and more vulnerable populations. Reducing urban inequality is key to all climate and sustainable development objectives — and to the success of failure of cities this century. Without equity, we can have no development; without equity, no resilience; without equity, no zero-carbon.

Though still insufficient, we are seeing some greater understanding of this relationship. The World Resources Report: Towards a More Equal City provides clear pathways for cities to break the status quo, and in Glasgow we heard from key mayors, ministers and other urban leaders on the complexity and the imperative of moving from rhetoric to action. “Healthy NDC scorecards” were also introduced, which grade the impact of climate commitments on public health and may help bring cross-cutting issues like air pollution to the fore.

In many places, COVID-19 recovery packages are an opportunity for cities to help shift the narrative on both equity and climate — and making meaningful changes.

With the focus of many governments on infrastructure investments and a newfound appreciation of more diverse, accessible and low-carbon urban mobility, there’s an opportunity to transform cities on a scale that might have seemed impossible just a few years ago. In this way, cities are at the forefront of the effort to build a more equitable world as well. They have an opportunity to galvanize support in the year ahead for a forward-looking agenda that shapes more inclusive cities that work better for everyone on multiple levels.

Retrieved from https://thecityfix.com/blog/5-priorities-for-cities-after-cop26/

This article originally appeared on WRI’s Insights.

Rogier van den Berg is Acting Global Director of WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities.

Leo Horn-Phathanothai is Head of WRI’s UK Office and Director for Strategy and Partnerships at WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities.

Cover Photo by SO Photography - Cities are among the most powerful levers we have to drive decarbonization and build resilience fast enough to meet the Paris goals. 

Multilevel Climate Action Playbook for Local and Regional Governments
The Multilevel Climate Action Playbook calls on local, regional, and national governments to come together at this crucial moment and collectively capitalize on the opportunity for stronger joint actions and policy alignment. The Playbook brings together curated recommendations for an enabling environment that weaves climate ambition and action of local and regional governments into national policy developments – thereby accelerating the vertical integration of Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) implementation and investment plans. Drawing on the expertise of cities and over 100 GCoM alliance partners, the Playbook serves as an all-in-one resource for evidence-based recommendations and real-world examples for inclusive multilevel governance and climate action.

Multilevel Climate Action Playbook for Local and Regional Governments

by Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy (GCoM) | Originally published on 9 November 2021

Critical to achieving the credible, just, and ambitious commitments required to avoid a climate catastrophe is effective multilevel governance and coordination: collaboration, communication, and engagement among all levels of government in a process led by Parties.

The Multilevel Climate Action Playbook for Local and Regional Governments recommends key elements of an enabling environment that can weave climate ambition and action of local and regional governments into Party policy developments to accelerate vertically integrated NDC implementation and investment plans. This enabling environment can help produce Regional and Local Contributions (RLCs), which are complementary to – and designed for integration with – Nationally Determined Contributions.

Grounded in research and multilevel government practitioner experience, the Playbook seeks to:

  • Understand the barriers to multilevel climate collaboration on Paris Agreement implementation;
  • Identify the mechanism for integrating RLCs into Party policy developments for the NDC Cycle;
  • Recommend enabling activities that advance multilevel climate governance and coordination, as well as enable the development of RLCs;
  • Highlight ‘assists’ from GCoM alliance partners*, Parties, and the private sector that can further unlock opportunities to strengthen NDC policy and implementation via integration of RLCs; and
  • Share resources (research, tools, and case studies) for use with select enabling activities of local/regional and national governments, and city/country network partners.

The Playbook is intended to serve as an all-in-one resource for local and regional governments, with guidance for national governments, GCoM alliance partners, and practitioners who aim to support multilevel collaboration.

Check out the full Playbook, its accompanying Annex, and repository of case studies here to learn more: https://www.globalcovenantofmayors.org/press/the-multilevel-climate-action-playbook-for-local-and-regional-governments/

Retrieved from https://www.globalcovenantofmayors.org/press/impact-report-and-playbook-launch/

FURTHER AND FASTER TOGETHER: THE 2021 GLOBAL COVENANT OF MAYORS IMPACT REPORT
The Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy (GCoM) is the world’s largest alliance for city climate leadership, totaling more than 11,000 city and local government commitments representing over 1 billion people. With more than three-quarters of GCoM signatories setting more ambitious targets than their countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), more than half aiming to achieve emissions reduction sooner, and a combined 100,000 climate actions in the pipeline, cities and local governments are demonstrating their willingness to act. Significant increases in city climate finance - in particular from national governments and international organizations - can catalyze action implementation, propel the systemic transformations needed to meet the moment, and help cities and countries go further and faster together.

FURTHER AND FASTER TOGETHER: THE 2021 GLOBAL COVENANT OF MAYORS IMPACT REPORT

by the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy (GCoM) | Originally published on 9 November 2021

The Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy (GCoM) is the world’s largest alliance for city climate leadership, totaling more than 11,000 city and local government commitments representing over 1 billion people.

With more than three-quarters of GCoM signatories setting more ambitious targets than their countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), more than half aiming to achieve emissions reduction sooner, and a combined 100,000 climate actions in the pipeline, cities and local governments are demonstrating their willingness to act. 

Significant increases in city climate finance – in particular from national governments and international organizations – can catalyze action implementation, propel the systemic transformations needed to meet the moment, and help cities and countries go further and faster together.

GCoM’s annual Impact (Aggregation) Report sheds light on the collective influence of its signatories at the frontlines of the fight against climate change, and calls for a significant boost in urban climate finance flows to realize the full potential of city climate action, while the Playbook outlines the enabling environment required for multilevel climate collaboration that integrates regional and local contributions and bolsters national climate commitments. Both reports show the sheer emissions reduction potential of cities and local governments, and make a strong case for countries to accelerate nationwide systems transformation with greater ambition and at a faster pace.

“Cities are leading the way in the battle against climate change because mayors know we can’t wait to act,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Climate Ambition and Solutions and Global Covenant of Mayors Co-Chair. “Across the world, they are facing the consequences of climate change first-hand—and the GCoM Aggregation Report and RLC Reports are an important step towards making sure they have the funding, data, and tools they need to fight back against it.”

“Mayors are trailblazers in the race to net zero. They are bringing cleaner air and greener spaces to their citizens, electrifying public transport, and rolling out bicycle lanes to make cities a better place to live in,” said Frans Timmermans, European Commission Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal, and Co-Chair of the Global Covenant of Mayors.

Read the full report here: https://www.globalcovenantofmayors.org/impact2021/

Retrieved from https://www.globalcovenantofmayors.org/press/impact-report-and-playbook-launch/

Eleventh Session of the World Urban Forum (WUF11)
The theme of WUF11, Transforming our Cities for a Better Urban Future, will provide greater insights and clarity on the future of cities based on existing trends, challenges and opportunities, as well as suggest ways cities can be better prepared to address future pandemics and a wide range of other shocks.

Eleventh Session of the World Urban Forum (WUF11) 

26-30 June 2022 | Katowice, Poland

This will be the first time that the WUF, convened by the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), will take place in Eastern Europe.

The WUF was established in 2001 by the United Nations to examine one of the most pressing issues facing the world today: rapid urbanisation and its impact on communities, cities, economies, climate change and policies. The first WUF was held in Nairobi, Kenya in 2002 and has been held around the world ever since.

Representatives of national, regional and local governments, academics, business people, community leaders, urban planners will be among the thousands of people are expected to attend WUF11 which is co-organized by Poland’s Ministry of Development Funds and Regional Policy and the Municipal Office of Katowice.

The long-term prospects point to a world that will continue to urbanize over the next decade— from 56% of the world’s population living in cities today, to 60% by 2030. Urban areas are the engines that will absorb virtually all the future growth of the world’s population. Every region is expected to become more urbanized in the next ten years. Clearly, this tells us that the future of humanity is undeniably urban, and we must plan our cities well to ensure sustainability, equity, and shared prosperity

This raises some key questions about the future of cities: what kind of cities are needed to support the future of humanity? How do we envisage and reimagine the future of cities? What do we want our cities to look like

The coronavirus pandemic is a stark reminder that urban areas need to be prepared for a dynamic and unpredictable future. COVID-19 clearly exposed the existing challenges that cities face, and their vulnerability to shocks. But each region and each country saw differences in these challenges and these vulnerabilities. The future of cities is “plural”, and we must consider these differences as potential strengths, unpack regional differences, learn together, and adapt urban models accordingly.

The theme of WUF11 will focus on these questions, providing us with the opportunity to anticipate change, course-correct, and become more knowledgeable about the different possibilities that the future of cities offers.

Learn more here: https://wuf.unhabitat.org/

Submission for events in the WUF11 Urban Expo is open till 7 March 2022: https://wuf.unhabitat.org/urban-expo.php

Stockholm+50: A healthy planet for the prosperity of all – our responsibility, our opportunity

Stockholm+50: A healthy planet for the prosperity of all – our responsibility, our opportunity

2-3 June 2022

It’s time for bold choices. It’s time for urgent action. It’s time for a better future on a healthy planet.

On 2 and 3 June 2022, a crucial international environmental meeting will be held in Stockholm, Sweden. Anchored in the Decade of Action, under the theme “Stockholm+50: a healthy planet for the prosperity of all – our responsibility, our opportunity,” this high-level meeting will follow months of consultations and discussions with individuals, communities, organizations and governments around the world. A one-day preparatory meeting will also be held at United Nations Headquarters in New York on 28 March 2022. 

Stockholm+50 will commemorate the 1972 United Nations Conference on the Environment and celebrate 50 years of global environmental action. By recognizing the importance of multilateralism in tackling the Earth’s triple planetary crisis – climate, nature, and pollution – the event aims to act as a springboard to accelerate the implementation of the UN Decade of Action to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals, including the 2030 Agenda, Paris Agreement on climate change, the post-2020 global Biodiversity Framework, and encourage the adoption of green post-COVID-19 recovery plans.

Learn more here: https://www.stockholm50.global/

Fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly

Fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (28 February - 2 March 2022)

by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

The UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) is the highest decision-making body on environmental matters in the UN system. UNEA-5.1 took place in February 2021 adopted a limited set of three procedural decisions: endorsement of the Medium-Term Strategy (MTS) for 2022-2025, and programme of work (PoW) and budget for the biennium 2022-2023; the management of trust funds and earmarked contributions; and agreement to convene a resumed, in-person fifth session in 2022. Local and regional governments ensured representation through the Global Major Group Stakeholders Forum and called for transformative action on environmental governance, climate justice and enhanced localisation of the global development agendas, ensuring connections between the SDGs, the Paris Accords, the New Urban Agenda and the Sendai Framework. 

The overall theme for UNEA-5 is “Strengthening Actions for Nature to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals”. This highlights the pivotal role nature plays in our lives and in social, economic and environmental sustainable development.

Learn more here: https://www.unep.org/environmentassembly/unea5

Retrieved from https://www.metropolis.org/agenda/fifth-session-united-nations-environment-assembly

How the moon landing is now inspiring local problem solving

In the book “Mission Economy,” economist Mariana Mazzucato examines the Apollo program’s success in landing a human on the moon in the 1960s — and challenges the public sector to take on new missions on a grand scale aimed at solving today’s biggest, most complex problems. It’s a framework that’s easiest to understand at the level of central governments, where resources are deep and influence over economic forces is strong. But can mission-oriented strategies work at the local level, too?

How the moon landing is now inspiring local problem solving

by Bloomberg Cities Network | Published on January 12, 2022

In the book “Mission Economy,” economist Mariana Mazzucato examines the Apollo program’s success in landing a human on the moon in the 1960s — and challenges the public sector to take on new missions on a grand scale aimed at solving today’s biggest, most complex problems.

It’s a framework that’s easiest to understand at the level of central governments, where resources are deep and influence over economic forces is strong. But can mission-oriented strategies work at the local level, too?

Professor Mazzucato and her team at University College London’s Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose (IIPP) are finding out. For the past few years, they’ve been working with local administrations in Greater Manchester, the London Borough of Camden, and other jurisdictions on developing and implementing missions on everything from becoming carbon neutral to boosting economic opportunities for youth to ensuring food security.

Late last year, the team took their engagement with local leaders further. In partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies, they delivered a five-week “Mission Boot Camp” to mayors and senior staff from ten global cities. Those cities included Adelaide, Australia; Durham, N.C.; Madison, Wis.; Providence, R.I.; Reykjavik, Iceland; San Jose, Calif.; Saskatoon, Canada; Sofia, Bulgaria; Stockholm, Sweden; and Tampa, Fla.

To find out what city leaders are learning about how to apply a mission-oriented frame to their work, Bloomberg Cities spoke with IIPP’s Rainer Kattel and Ryan Bellinson, who led the Mission Bootcamp. 

What is the missions-oriented mindset all about? 

Rainer Kattel: If you go back to the moon mission, a lot of the solutions didn't exist at the time. As Mariana likes to say, it wasn’t just about space technology. It was also about things like clothing, materials, communications, and food that needed to be there for people to actually be able to go out in space. The mission enabled lots of innovation in various sectors, but it was supported by one big goal. 

In general, it goes back to this idea that governments need to think big in order to actually enable various sectors—from universities to companies to cities—to innovate around problems that may seem intractable. And they need to create a pathway to do it. 

What are examples of problems where local leaders can apply a missions-oriented approach?

Kattel: You can think of socio-economic issues like crime or homelessness. Or sustainability, and mobility and rethinking the ways we use streets. Vision Zero, those policies around eliminating traffic-related fatalities, is a kind of mission. It’s about being ambitious and not only looking for low-hanging fruit.

Ryan Bellinson: It also can apply to something every city does: strategic planning. Oftentimes, each department has its own objectives for the administration’s next five, 10, or 20 year strategic plan, developed in isolation. But if instead you’re looking at a mission of, say, eliminating homelessness, it forces leaders within the administration to think about how those departments work together across all the different components of the objective, whether it’s affordable housing, mental health services, or skills, so that those pieces are joined up.

How is this different from any other big items a mayor has ever put on their to do list? What makes missions different?

Kattel: What the mission-oriented framework gives you as a politician or a policy maker is a way to devise a strategy that has longevity. So there’s a goal maybe 20 or 30 years down the road that we're building towards. And we are building towards it by trying new structures and ways of working across departments and ways of including citizens more. 

Bellinson: That political longevity is really key. It’s up to the mayor to use their convening power to bring different actors to the table. And then to ultimately cede ground to a wider group of individuals, interests, and organizations that are assembled so it becomes a broad shared priority with ownership diffused across many organizations.  When that mayor eventually leaves office, the terrain will already be in place for that priority not to go away.

You have five criteria for what makes a mission—what are they?

Bellinson: The first criterion is that the mission has to be bold and inspirational, and have wide societal relevance—it should capture the public’s imagination and be exciting.

Second, missions have to set a clear direction, and that includes having targets that are measurable and timebound. You need to be able to know whether the mission is being achieved or off track. 

Third, missions need to be very ambitious — but achievable through innovations and new ways of working. 

Fourth, missions need to encourage cross-sectoral, cross disciplinary innovation activity.They’re supported by collaboration across multiple departments and sectors, that can shape action holistically.

Lastly is what I'm most excited about: Missions involve multiple bottom-up solutions. During the program, we talked a lot about ‘snowballing’ a portfolio of innovation projects that start small and build up over time. This is an area where involving subject-matter experts, community organizations and residents in the design and co-production of projects is critical.

What are some examples of places putting missions-oriented thinking to work at the local level?

Kattel: Camden is an interesting example. It’s one of the most unequal parts of London - it has great wealth housing Google and our own university, but at the same time contains some of the most deprived areas in London. They’ve launched four missions. One is to see those holding positions of power to be as diverse as the community by 2030—with the next generation being ready to lead. Another is for everyone to be able to eat well every day with nutritious, affordable, and sustainable food by 2030. 

In Sweden, the city-level work is led by a national innovation agency, Vinnova. They are trying to figure out missions that can be shared by multiple cities. For instance, they’re looking at how to get rid of cars from the streets and give streets back to the citizens. They’re doing a lot of experiments in cities to find different solutions and ensure there’s a lot of learning.

Bellinson: Of the cities from the Boot Camp, we saw missions primarily emerge in three areas. We’re seeing a lot of green missions focused on climate mitigation or air quality. That’s the case in Reykjavík, where they’re talking about becoming carbon neutral by 2040. Or Sofia, where they’re striving to meet international standards for healthy air quality by 2035. 

Other cities were using missions to focus on reclaiming and valuing public space. Cities like Providence were thinking about how to use curb space differently at a time when there’s changing demands from delivery services and new mobility operators. Or Tampa, where they were looking at providing all residents safe and equitable access to green space.

And then there’s a theme around social justice, equity, and inclusion. We had Durham that was experimenting with missions as an approach for tackling gun violence. Or Saskatoon, tackling homelessness, which has a lot of intersections with the marginalized Indigenous community there. In those cities, the mayors and administrators were really thinking about the governance of safety, the governance of social justice, and how they involve different communities. 

What are the challenges that cities encounter in this work, and how do they overcome them? 

Bellinson: Funding comes up a lot: Very few cities would ever say they have enough financial resources to do what they need to do. But one thing missions can offer is a way to think about finance differently. Through missions, cities have to think about how different departments can pool their budgets to solve a common challenge. And you’re thinking about finding synergies with partners to collaboratively design a project together using collective resources. 

We’re seeing this in the UK in Greater Manchester, which has a mission to achieve carbon neutrality by 2038. The Greater Manchester Combined Authority has very limited resources. But because they’ve set a shared vision and established trust among lots of different partners, we’re seeing ambitious ideas like a publicly owned energy innovation company being created through a joined up partnership framework. It will produce and sell renewable energy to residents and businesses, and its revenues will be reinvested into the company. So this is something that started with very limited public resources, but is moving forward because of strong collaboration between lots of different organizations.

The second issue is around overcoming siloed ways of working. It’s helpful to have a strategic designer on board — someone who can bridge the different languages and cultures across different disciplines, and find pathways to bring those people together to solve problems. Missions require thinking in an integrated way. 

What lessons did you see cities in the bootcamp taking from the work?

Kattel: Everybody seemed to be quite taken by this idea of snowballing. That you don’t need to be building something as big as the space program, but can actually just take one street, start from there, and start learning. Missions can seem big, but you don’t need to start from something big. 

Bellinson: This is a long-term approach to systems change, and there’s a lot of forethought that has to go into it. So some of the cities are thinking about what are the different tools, what are the different ways of working, what are the different capacities that are encompassed within mission mindsets, and how they can apply that? In Durham and Saskatoon, for example, they’re thinking about the kind of collaborative approaches that are needed to take missions forward.

We’re hoping that the cities we’ve worked with through this program will continue to engage with us. We have a Mission-Oriented Innovation Network that any public-sector organization is able to join (email Nora Clinton at for details). The network is a space for organizations interested in missions to be able to share lessons from how they've taken pieces of this approach forward, what's working and what isn't working, and learn together within a wider community of practice. Hopefully, for the cities that are interested in missions, this is just the start of a longer-term journey.

Article and cover photo retrieved from https://bloombergcities.jhu.edu/news/how-moon-landing-now-inspiring-local-problem-solving

Stories to Watch 2022
Ani and our top experts will discuss commitments to end deforestation, scale up electric vehicles, reduce emissions and much more. Together, they will tackle one of the world's most urgent questions: Will this be the year that leaders turn promises into action? 

Stories to Watch 2022 by the World Resources Institute (WRI)

Date: Wednesday, 19 January 2022

Time: 9:00 - 10:15 AM EST

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New stories about climate change are unfolding every day — and with them, new commitments on climate action. Among all the headlines, what stories will make or break climate action in this critical decade?

We'll explore the answer in WRI's 19th annual Stories to Watch presentation. This virtual event will feature WRI's President and CEO Ani Dasgupta as he explores which stories in 2022 will shape the global narrative for years to come.

Ani and our top experts will discuss commitments to end deforestation, scale up electric vehicles, reduce emissions and much more. Together, they will tackle one of the world's most urgent questions: Will this be the year that leaders turn promises into action?

Register here

Climate compatible urban development: Building healthier relationships between people, water and carbon across Africa
What does it entail to make African cities climate compatible and climate-resilient? Many African urban residents, businesses, and public facilities currently face a scarcity of clean water, chronic energy shortages, disease outbreaks,https://www.africancentreforcities.net/ and storm damages. This needs to be addressed while adding 950 million new residents to African cities over the next 30 years, and contributing to achieving the Paris Agreement on keeping global temperature increases to well below 2 degrees Celsius, and preferably 1.5⁰C.

Climate compatible urban development: Building healthier relationships between people, water and carbon across Africa

by Anna Taylor | African Center for Cities | Originally posted on 23 November 2021 

What does it entail to make African cities climate compatible and climate resilient? Many African urban residents, businesses and public facilities currently face a scarcity of clean water, chronic energy shortages, disease outbreaks and storm damages. This needs to be addressed, while adding 950 million new residents to African cities over the next 30 years[1], and contributing to achieving the Paris Agreement on keeping global temperature increases to well-below 2 degrees Celsius, and preferably 1.5⁰C[2]. We are at a pivot point. Historically, urban people have earned more, consumed more and had a bigger ecological footprint (including carbon footprint). Can we break this correlation? We need new ways of being urban and building our cities. We need to mainstream and scale out these new sustainable urban practices and infrastructures within the next two decades.

We need to be part of shifting to renewable energy sources, restorative water flows and recyclable materials, in ways that create jobs, livelihood opportunities and healthy living conditions for all. Our cities can no longer be sprawling generators of pollution from which people feel excluded and get sick. We have ideas of urban climate resilience, zero carbon cities, sustainable urban infrastructure and urban transitions. Who can we learn from about how this works in practice, in various urban contexts across Africa?

We can learn from the Gahanga Health Centre in the City of Kigali, Rwanda, where rainwater harvesting tanks connected to the internal reticulation system, and a number of energy-efficient lighting solutions, including solar streetlights, energy-efficient bulbs and high-pressure solar water heaters, are being installed to improve the sustainability and quality of healthcare services, especially obstetrics and maternal healthcare[3]. Water and energy meters are also being installed to collect the data required to make an evidence-based case for scaling out these pilot projects.

We can learn from the piloting of small-scale embedded energy generation in Nelson Mandela Bay metropolitan municipality, South Africa, that connected a small-scale wind and solar energy generation pilot site[4] to the energy grid using a simple system for net metering[5]. This informed the development and approval by the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) of Standard Conditions for Small-Scale (<100kW) Embedded Generation (SSEG) within Municipal Boundaries.

We can learn from the Kigamboni decentralized wastewater treatment plant in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and research done on the social acceptance of new technologies that present an alternative to (the lack of) large-scale, centralized water-borne sewage systems, and thereby reduce risks of cholera and diarrheal disease outbreaks[6]. Similarly, we can learn from efforts in Accra, Ghana, to develop and test localized, on-site toilet waste digesters to reduce the contamination of waterways and coastal waters from the disposal of sewage into the sea[7].

We can learn from the N1 City Mall in Cape Town, South Africa, where a waste digester has been installed to process food waste from grocery shops and restaurants in the mall and turn it into methane gas and fertilizer[8]. The methane is used to produce green electricity and hot water for the shopping centre. The fertilizer is used on the gardens surrounding the mall. This keeps waste out of landfill and reduces waste transportation requirements and thereby carbon and methane emissions into the atmosphere.

We can learn from the Sihlanzimvelo, Transformative Riverine Management and Green Corridors initiatives in Durban, South Africa, in which community-based cooperatives are contracted and upskilled to unblock and rehabilitate local stretches of streams and rivers by removing solid waste and invasive plants, thereby reducing flood risks, and upcycling reclaimed materials[9]. Green Corridor sites provide youth training and development programmes and eco-tourism opportunities, to create income-generating opportunities from ecological restoration efforts[10].

We can learn from the Eco-Village in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, that provides families with low-cost, affordable housing that is energy-efficient, self-cooling and fitted with solar panels to provide electricity and pump groundwater[11].

When thinking about how to aggregate and scale out such initiatives, and prioritize interventions and investments at the city scale, what can we learn from those African city governments that have already made considerable headway in embedding climate change policies and plans. What can Cape Town and Durban’s processes of developing a Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan aligned with the 1.5⁰C ambition of the Paris Agreement teach us? What can we learn from the City of Windhoek’s efforts at consultatively developing their Integrated Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan[12]?

Many of these initiatives have their shortcomings and limitations. Incumbent building standards, loan requirements, property rates schemes, municipal boundaries and the financialization of public assets act as constraints and inhibitors. But these initiatives are a start. They demonstrate alternative practices and technologies that offer a glimpse into a more sustainable and inclusive development trajectory for African cities. They show potential for providing more and better livelihood options and living conditions to millions of urban residents across Africa in ways that minimize greenhouse gas emissions that are driving climate change, and reduce risks associated with flooding, water and energy shortages, water contamination and disease outbreaks. They hint at a radical re-imagining of urban infrastructure, such that they make better use of resources, provide better services, create more jobs and work more closely with natural systems.

What will it take for more cities across Africa to be taking shape in this way? We cannot copy and paste, so we need to invest in the innovation ecosystems and partnership platforms that can incubate and sustain the necessary processes of redesign, financing, implementation, maintenance and ongoing adaptation. City actors cannot do this alone. National, regional and international actors, including utility companies and state-owned enterprises, also have a key role to play in developing infrastructure and providing services to rapidly growing cities that are sustainable, low-carbon and climate resilient. There will have to be radical innovation and strong alignment between industrial, energy, economic, climate and urban policies. The Masters in Sustainable Urban Practice offers an opportunity for mid-career professionals to build and sharpen the knowledge, skills and networks required to be a key player in the sustainable cities innovation ecosystem.

Article and cover image retrieved from https://www.africancentreforcities.net/climate-compatible-urban-development-building-healthier-relationships-between-people-water-and-carbon-across-africa/

Climate Change and the City, convened by Dr Anna Taylor is one of the elective modules of the new Masters in Sustainable Practice. Applications for 2022 are open. The deadline for applications is 31 January 2022. For more information go to the programme page.

[1] https://www.oecd.org/publications/africa-s-urbanisation-dynamics-2020-b6bccb81-en.htm

[2] https://www.c40.org/researches/summary-for-urban-policymakers-what-the-ipcc-special-report-on-global-warming-of-1-5-c-means-for-cities

[3] https://urban-leds.org/rwanda-upgrades-healthcare-centres-as-part-of-green-economic-recovery/

[4] https://africa.iclei.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/2019_CaseStudy_Showcasing-sustainable-solutions-in-SA-2.pdf

[5] https://africa.iclei.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/2015_Case-study_Urban-LEDS_Nelson-Mandela-bay-municipality.pdf

[6] https://council.science/current/blog/unpacking-narratives-towards-a-framework-for-waste-water-management/

[7] https://youtu.be/XJ7FsDysZUM and https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27087485/

[8] https://www.greenbuildingafrica.co.za/waste-to-energy-digester-installed-at-growthpoints-n1-city-mall/

[9] https://www.c40cff.org/projects/ethekwini-municipality-durban-transformative-riverine-management-programme

[10] https://durbangreencorridor.co.za/purpose-projects

[11] https://ng.boell.org/en/2016/04/05/eco-village-port-harcourt and https://www.lionessesofafrica.com/blog/2021/2/21/chinwe-ohajuruka-an-award-winning-nigerian-impact-driven-green-architect

[12] http://www.fractal.org.za/windhoek/