Sustainable Cities and Communities Throughout The Americas A Priority

Sustainable Cities North America

City mayors, development planners, and civil society representatives met on Monday in Antigua, Guatemala to kick off the 43rd Organization of American States (OAS) General Assembly to discuss challenges linked to rapid urbanization in the Americas and exchange best practices for the sustainable development of cities and communities.

mexico city
Participants also discussed priority areas for cooperation on urban sustainability ahead of the 7th World Urban Forum in Medellin, Colombia, in 2014.

The public roundtable discussion on the theme Building Sustainable Cities and Communities in the Americas: From Demonstration Projects to Scale was hosted by the Spanish Agency for International Development (AECID) Cooperation Training Center in Antigua and jointly organized by the Department of Sustainable Development of the OAS and the Permanent Missions of Guatemala and the United States.

The meeting took place in the context of the Sustainable Communities in Central America and the Caribbean initiative, which was launched in 2012 under the framework of the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA) with support from the U.S. Department of State. This initiative supports the implementation of 14 community-level demonstration projects in the following priority areas:

    • Clean energy and energy efficiency;
    • Resilience to natural disasters;
    • Sustainable transport solutions; and
    • Waste management and recycling (including electronic waste).

Ambassador Carmen Lomellin, U.S. Permanent Representative to the OAS, emphasized the need for collective action to address shared challenges and invited all OAS member states to contribute to future collaboration on urban sustainability through the OAS. She noted that the roundtable provided an important opportunity for dialogue that facilitates the exchange of lessons learned and best practices in urban design and planning. Ambassador Lomellin pointed to the Sustainable Communities initiative as an example of fruitful cooperation under ECPA.


Sustainable Cities Get Boost From IBM, Citigroup

Banks Back Sustainable Cities

Citi has been involved in a project in Brazil that demonstrates how cities can be more sustainable. For three weeks in April, myself and Derek Rego, from transaction banking, worked in Porto Alegre, the capital and largest city in the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul, with a population of around 1.5 million people.

Greener Cities network

We were invited to participate in IBM’s Smarter Cities Challenge program, which has sent a team of executives (usually all from IBM), to 100 cities over the last three years. Porto Alegre’s goal for our three-week project was to learn about how technology – social media, mobile and data processing – can make their city smarter so that decision-making is better informed, citizens are more engaged and citizens’ daily lives are improved.

Citigroup also just launched its CitiBike program in New York. Hopefully, similar programs can spread to other cities around the world, while shaping future development and infrastructure upgrades.

Urban expansion puts pressure on the natural environment, but there are solutions. Energy and resource efficiency can be encouraged with smart incentives and commuting times (and pollution) can be reduced with low-cost apps to make travel more efficient for cars, buses, and taxis. Citi has a role to play in sharing best practices between cities, capitalizing new urban technology companies, and helping cities access capital for their infrastructure projects. For example, Porto Alegre currently treats only 27 percent of its sewage but a new treatment plant will increase that to 80 percent in the next year. The cost is relatively modest for a city of 1.5mm, at roughly $600 million, and loans are repaid almost entirely from future revenues of the water & sewer system. A cleaner river will not only improve livability but will open up the old industrial waterfront for re-development, increasing the return of this kind of environmental investment for the local economy.

We can also use our knowledge for smaller scale solutions. For example, Porto Alegre is often flooded because surrounding trees have been cut down and the city is paved with impermeable surfaces. Here in the U.S., we’ve seen how Philadelphia consumers can install plants on their rooftops and replace impermeable surfaces with permeable surfaces in their parking lots, all through the levying of lower utility charges for these properties. Those sorts of investments take time to pay off. However, sustainability is not about tomorrow. It’s about building up long-term assets to enable a more sustainable planet for us and future generations.

By Patrick Brett, Managing Sales Director, Structured Sales, CitiRead. Read more about the Citi for Cities initiative here: www.citiforcities

Sustainable Role Models For Cities and Communities

Green Capitals Of The World

bogota Top 10 Greenest Cities in the World

10. Bogotá, Colombia

In recent years, Bogotá has drastically improved its reputation, moving from a city plagued with organized crime and poverty to one that is renowned for its green living and sustainability. The capital city of Colombia boasts an efficient public transport system, more than 1,100 urban green spaces and hundreds of miles of bike trails. It’s also greatly improved its air quality and water supplies.

hamburg 300x225 Top 10 Greenest Cities in the World

9. Hamburg, Germany

Hamburg, winner of the 2011 European Green Capital designation is busy developing its city to bring it in align with sustainable standards, and it’s this change that’s earned it a place in the list. Hamburg is currently redeveloping 388 acres of industrial land to make way for shops, parks, housing and other essential amenities.

Stockholm Top 10 Greenest Cities in the World

8. Stockholm, Sweden

Stockholm took the title of the European Green Capital back in 2010 for its outstanding commitment to sustainability. Its carbon emissions are impressive, the average for a European city is 10 tons per capita, however Stockholm produces only 3.4 tons. It’s also famous for the fact that over 40 percent of the city is made up of green spaces.

Copenhagen Top 10 Greenest Cities in the World

7. Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen has built up a reputation as being a worldwide leader in the efforts to combat climate change. It’s also renowned for its bicycles. With nearly one third of residents primarily using their bikes to get around the city – this number is expected to increase to 50 percent by 2015.

Curitiba 300x225 Top 10 Greenest Cities in the World

6. Curitiba, Brazil

Curitiba is undoubtedly the green capital of Brazil, with over 1,000 green spaces, 14 forests and 16 parks it’s no surprise it has made this list. A whopping 70 percent of the city’s waste is recycled and even has flocks of sheep in its parks and green spaces to keep the grass under control.

Portland 300x227 Top 10 Greenest Cities in the World

5. Portland, Ore

Portland was the first city in the USA to take on a climate change action plan and it has plans and laws in place to ensure that the city stays within the limits so the rural land is only preserved for agricultural uses. It also has an excellent reputation in terms of its commuters with over 25 percent of its workforce either traveling by public transport, bicycles or carpooling.

Vancouver 300x199 Top 10 Greenest Cities in the World

4. Vancouver, Canada

Vancouver has high hopes that it will become the world’s greenest city by 2020. The city is famous for its innovative clean techniques, for example it has solar powered trash compactors which are the same size as a regular bin but can hold up to 5x more rubbish, meaning fewer pick-ups for the bin men and therefore lower emissions. It also has a vast amount of renewable sources available meaning it can draw an impressive 90 percent of its power from these green technologies.

sweden malmo 300x240 Top 10 Greenest Cities in the World

3. Malmö, Sweden

Malmö is the proud owner of one of the largest energy parks in the world and it boasts an abundance of green space as well as a vast variety of green technology solutions. The Western Harbour in Malmö is completely powered by renewable energy from the sun, wind, hydropower and biofuels. Even the city’s buildings are green, constructed using sustainable materials they’re specifically designed to be as energy efficient as possible.


san francisco 300x222 Top 10 Greenest Cities in the World

2. San Francisco, California

San Francisco has been at the forefront of sustainable living for many years, in 2007 it became the first US city to ban the use of plastic bags, this has saved over 100 million bags from being thrown into landfill each year. It also started a comprehensive recycling program in 2009 and so far has managed to save 77 percent of materials from ending up in landfill – making it the most successful program in the United States.

rejkjavik Top 10 Greenest Cities in the World

1. Reykjavik, Iceland

Reykjavik in Iceland has taken the top spot, and rightly so as it’s a city completely powered by renewable energy. The city is surrounded by geothermal activity which can then be converted into clean energy. The plan for Reykjavik is for the city to be completely independent by 2050, having no reliance on fossil fuels at all. The city currently uses hydropower and geothermal activity to provide hot water, electricity and heat for the city.


Smart Cities Council Launched to Promote Smart, Sustainable Cities

Sustainable Cities Network

Cities around the world are under pressure. Budgets are tight. Growth is necessary. Demands and costs are escalating. Extreme weather is taking its toll. Efficiency and sustainability are priorities, but where should they start to balance the moving pieces? Civic leaders have a new resource in the fight to achieve prosperity and sustainability. More than a dozen top technology firms have formed the Smart Cities Council to provide cities with tools and best practices that can guide them in the right direction and save them time and money.

Greener Cities network

Operating under the theme “Livability, Workability, Sustainability,” the Council has gathered the world’s foremost firms in areas such as smart energy, water and transportation. These firms, which make up the Council’s Steering Committee, include Alstom, AT&T, Bechtel, Cisco, Electricite de France, General Electric, IBM, Itron, Microsoft, National Grid, Qualcomm, and S&C Electric.

In addition to lead partners, the Council’s associate partners include ABB, Alphinat, Grid2020, Invensys, MaxWest Environmental Systems, Opower, and Zipcar (a division of Avis).

According to Itron, the Smart Cities Council was formed to help address the unprecedented challenges facing the world’s cities, including accelerated population growth and constrained resources. The council aims to equip city leaders with fresh approaches to policy, governance, development and technology that enable long-term livability, workability and sustainability. Of course, resilience is an important part of the equation as well.

“People have built communities around energy and water for ages. Past generations have extracted more energy or more water to accommodate growing populations. This is simply not possible given the scale and urgency of today’s challenges. We must be more strategic, more resourceful and more innovative than ever before,” says Russ Vanos, Itron’s senior vice president of strategy and business development.

Mayors and city leaders can tap into this global hub to develop a comprehensive and collaborative road map for their city, to gain advice on the most effective ways to move forward, and to compare notes with like-minded leaders.

“All over the world, rapid urbanization is putting enormous stress on city resources and infrastructure,” explained founding Chairman Jesse Berst. “Cities are at a crossroads; many are nearing the point at which they could easily become overwhelmed by issues related to crime, congestion, and public health and safety. To prevent this, cities can use smart technologies to not just manage problems, but to usher in a new era of prosperity and sustainability.”

A “smart city” uses digital technology to deliver better, more efficient services to its citizens. It enables access to information via data collected from devices and sensors that are embedded in roadways, energy and water infrastructure, buildings and more. For example, smart power and water grids improve efficiency and reliability, as well as provide customers with detailed information to help them reduce their bills. For another example, a smart transportation network optimizes multi-modal travel throughout the city with real-time bus updates, taxi locations, and the ability to reserve parking spots.

Thousands of smart city projects are underway around the globe, but major hurdles remain. Cities have significant questions and challenges with regard to the four chief barriers of technology, financing, policy, and citizen engagement.

World’s first collaborative smart city guide

The Council was formed to lower these barriers to adoption through education, outreach, and tools for cities. One of the Smart Cities Council’s first initiatives is the development of the Readiness Guide, which will launch as a beta version at the 81st Annual United States Conference of Mayors next month.

The Readiness Guide will be the first collaborative and comprehensive vision of a smart city. It will provide city leaders with a conceptual technology roadmap to address growth strategies in an effective and systemic way, focusing on key issues such as energy, transportation, water, and public safety. The content of the Readiness Guide is greatly influenced by the expertise of the Council’s partners, as well as its Advisory Board, which is made up of independent experts from research, academia, and advocacy.

“Far too many cities are undertaking individual projects without an overall plan, and without considering the ways that different departments can share costs and data,” noted James Whittaker, Executive Director of the Smart Cities Council and a principal in Mercator XXI, a co-founder of the Council. “For the best results, it is essential to have a comprehensive, holistic vision — yet no such help exists today. The Readiness Guide is the first-ever collaborative, comprehensive resource.”

The Council also has initiatives underway to address financing, policy, and citizen engagement. To accomplish these important but challenging tasks, the Council has marshaled the world’s leading authorities. “It takes an ecosystem to build a smart city,” said Berst. “We salute our member organizations. They have demonstrated that they are not just leaders in innovation, but — equally important — in collaboration.”

About Smart Cities Council

The Smart Cities Council is comprised of the foremost experts and leading global companies in the smart technologies sector, who serve as advisors and resources. Its goal is to accelerate the growth of smart cities worldwide by providing city leaders with access to financial tools, policy frameworks, visibility campaigns, and advocacy. For more information, visit

National Policy Battles Impact Sustainable Business

Green Investments Blocked By Uncertainty

Voluntary corporate sustainability initiatives and environmental policy are essential, but not complete solutions by themselves. We also need laws, oversight and guidelines to set the entire competitive floor at a level that protects the environment and ensures a quality and quantity of jobs consistent with human dignity. Such a platform will unleash even more innovation, but in directions that are sustainable.

Greener Cities network

Responsible and sustainably-focused business owners can make a big difference in policy fights by countering what policymakers hear from some in the traditional business community.

Here are three pro-sustainable business policy items the American Sustainable Business Council is working on in conjunction with many other organizations.

Renewable energy standards under attack

Renewable Portfolio Standards are state mandates that require utilities to produce a certain amount of energy from renewable sources within a specific time frame, such as wind, solar and biofuel. The standards vary from state to state. North Carolina for example, mandates 12.5 percent clean energy production by 2021, while Colorado calls for 30 percent by 2020. Regardless of the specific targets, the value of an RPS is in providing a clear policy signal to investors, manufacturers and technology companies that the market for renewable energy will grow.

Despite widespread public support, renewable energy standards are under attack in numerous states, often at the behest of oil-industry-funded interest groups. Recently, the American Legislative Exchange Council, a group supported by ExxonMobil and the Koch brothers, among others, introduced the “Electricity Freedom Act.” This piece of so-called “model legislation” would repeal a state’s RPS, meaning utilities no longer would need to include renewable energy in their mix and those energy sources would lose a significant market foothold. That would kill jobs and weaken these states’ economies.

The legislation has been introduced in 11 states this year. In Kansas, efforts to repeal the state’s RPS have failed. Despite an earlier win in a North Carolina House committee, which failed to pass an anti-RPS bill, the state’s Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard still isn’t safe in this legislative session. In Ohio, efforts are underway to repeal the state’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard.

Last year, ALEC-backed efforts to weaken or repeal an RPS were introduced in 19 states, and passed in Ohio, New Hampshire and Virginia.

First enacted in 1916, the farm bill is typically reauthorized every five years. It represents billions of dollars in government expenditures that set the farm, food and rural policy goals and priorities for the country. The 2008 farm bill cost more than $288 billion over a five-year period.

After the 2012 farm bill failed to pass, action on the new 2013 farm bill has begun to heat up. The House and the Senate have both issued drafts of their farm bills; this legislation will profoundly shape our nation’s food and farm system for the next five years.

On May 14, the 2013 farm bill quickly cleared the Senate Agriculture Committee. Late the following night, the House Agriculture Committee approved its version of a $940 billion farm bill. The current farm bill expires September 30, so lawmakers in both houses need to approve their respective bills before the August recess.

What’s at stake?

Without funding for many vital programs, small and mid-sized farmers will find it more difficult to stay in business. These programs are designed to bring jobs to rural markets, create greater access to healthy foods and provide microloans for emerging agri-business.

Sustainable agriculture champions in Congress have introduced several amendments that support family farms, build strong communities, protect natural resources, invest in future farmers and ensure real reform of commodity payments. Some content included in these amendments came from the following bills:

The Growing Opportunities in Agriculture and Responding to Markets, GO FARM Act of 2013 (S.678)
The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act of 2013 (H.R.1727 and S.837)
The Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act of 2013 (H.R.1414 and S.679)

These amendments are important for the future of sustainable agriculture and it is vital that they make it into the final version of the farm bill. For this to happen, the voices of those who believe in the importance of sustainable agriculture need to be heard.

Reliable, long-term financing has been one of the greatest obstacles to moving the nation toward a clean energy future. Clean Energy Victory Bonds can be a big part of the solution. The Clean Energy Victory Bonds Act of 2013 would create an investment vehicle with government backing, but no tax dollars.

Green America and the American Sustainable Business Council are working on the reintroduction of the Clean Energy Victory Bonds Act, meeting with House offices on both sides of the aisle as well as with federal agencies. The bond will support renewable energy and energy efficiency measures, strengthen our domestic clean energy industries and create an estimated 1.7 million jobs. Discussions are also underway on the creation of state-level CEVBs. The House bill is expected to be reintroduced soon, followed by a Senate version.

What’s at stake?

The United States once was the leading innovator and exporter of renewable sources of energy and technologies. Currently, however, it lags behind the likes of Germany, China, Italy, Canada, Spain and Brazil in clean energy investments as a percentage of GDP. In 2010 alone, China made $48 billion in renewable energy investments compared to just $25 billion by the United States.

From coal to nuclear to oil, no new energy source was developed without significant government funding. Today, the alternative, environmentally sustainable, clean energy path should be the focus.


Portland Hosts Conference On EcoDistricts and Cities

Sustainable City Network

Representatives from eight cities gathered at Portland’s Ecotrust building Tuesday for the start of a workshop designed to train municipal leaders on the art of neighborhood revitalization.


The group EcoDistricts, formerly known as the Portland Sustainability Institute, is hosting urban planners and community leaders hoping to learn a bit about sustainable city tenets. The three-day EcoDistricts Incubator event includes representatives from Bend, Burlington, Vt., Cambridge, Mass., Charleston, S.C., Denver, Oakland, Orlando, Fla. and San Diego. The event also hosted several federal government representatives from throughout the country.

The EcoDistricts Incubator will help each of the cities tackle a different EcoDistrict project. For instance, in Bend, city planners want a major couplet that connects the established downtown with the city’s historic residential neighborhoods and erstwhile industrial lands.

Several local leaders are playing leading roles at the event. For instance, Rep. Earl Blumenauer, a Portland Democrat, told attendees that notions of urban sustainability are in many ways a throwback to how cities operated in the past. Blumenauer, an avid cyclist, added that Portland has boosted its biking levels — its 180 miles of bike lanes and 79 miles of off-street bike paths helped it top Bicycling Magazine’s list of top cycling cities — organically.

“We have not framed it as a choice,” Blumenauer said. “We made it convenient, attractive and hip. We never actually declared war on the automobile, but this is a community that decided not to surrender to it.”


10 Things That Make A Green City

Sustainable, Resilient Cities

sustainable cities network

Plentiful Parks: Parks are the “lungs of the city,” architect Frederic Law Olmsted famously said about New York’s Central Park. From the 500-year-old Giardino della Guastalla in Milan to downtown Houston’s new Discovery Green, parks provide both a place for harried city residents to take a deep breath, relax, and connect with nature, and a cooling counter to the heat-island effect created by all that asphalt. (Not to mention a buffer against flooding.) Green space has even been shown to improve an your physical and mental health.

Efficient Public Transportation: While commuters in Beijing, Dubai, and Lausanne, Switzerland, have shiny new metro systems to ride to work, transit authorities in Mexico City, Istanbul, and Los Angeles have cleared the way for buses by simply putting them in their own lanes. But whether they’re high-tech or humble, transit solutions that allow people to get around quickly and easily without a car are a key element to a green city.

Quality Public Space: Amid all the skyscrapers and busy roadways, a good green city has places that are built (or renovated) to human scale, places where people can safely walk and happily gather. Whether it’s New York’s High Line, a old railway bed converted into an aerial walkway, or a popular pedestrian-only street in Curitiba, Brazil, such places not only encourage getting around on foot, but reduce the need for large private dwellings by creating communal space for people to enjoy.


Bike Lanes: While the density of cities makes them great in theory for getting around by bike, heavy traffic (and angry drivers) can make cycling unpleasant and even dangerous without designated lanes. The most bike-friendly cities create separated bike paths, provide parking (and even solar-powered showers!), institute bike-sharing programs, and allow cyclists to bring their bikes on buses for longer trips.

Green City

High-Profile Green Buildings: Showcase developments that seek to be the biggest, tallest, fill-in-the-blank-iest green building may get flak for their aesthetics or be seen simply as “window dressing” for governments and corporations seeking some green cred. But as long as they’re not all a city’s doing, a prominent, striking eco-friendly structure such as the San Francisco Federal Building or the green roof on Chicago’s city hall provides a very visible symbol of green intentions and draws attention to the latest technologies.

Comprehensive Recycling and Composting Programs: Yes, recycling is the classic individual environmental act, but it’s not much good without someone to provide conveniently placed bins and reliable collection. The greenest city initiatives are going further than gathering cans and bottles, by adding electronics and food waste to the list of items recycled and composted, and by instituting larger-scale programs to recycle water for industrial use.

Eco amenities can help attract tenants and shoppers.
Mixed-use and Infill Development: Good planning is key to a green city. While other metropolises sprawl further and further out, Hamburg, Germany, is renovating its obsolete harbor into a walkable mixed-use neighborhood with office, retail, and residential space, while Sacramento, California, is giving new life to old alleyways. Such projects “recycle” existing space that’s already woven into the urban fabric, making them easy to get to and get around.

BeFunky_green citypeople.jpg

Green Leadership: Not every city official is going to be a “knight on a shining bicycle” like London Mayor Boris Johnson, who stopped an assault as he was cycling by. But government officials such as Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, former Austin Mayor Will Wynn, and the city council of Marburg, Germany, are heroes in their own right for cleaning up their cities’ sewer systems, promoting wind power and biodiesel, and making solar installations mandatory on new and renovated buildings. An active citizenry provides leadership from the ground up to prod or encourage politicians in the right direction.


Smart Energy Policies: Buying renewable energy and mandating efficiency measures are two ways a city can use its economic clout to help build a market for greener products while lowering its own environmental impact (and, often, operating costs). Phoenix, Arizona, for example, is boosting the amount of power it draws from renewable sources and constructing new city buildings to LEED standards, while San Francisco is building a big new solar array, Austin, Texas, is mandating home energy audits, and New York City is looking into offshore wind farms.


Good Green Fun: Going green shouldn’t be all work and no play, and the best green cities celebrate their eco-friendly lifestyles with farmers’ markets full of tasty (and unusual) treats, bars and restaurants serving the best organic fare, intriguing exhibits by ecologically minded artists, and music festivals that offer bike valet parking and solar-powered stages.

wastewater treatment and disease

Sewage Management: If you consider yourself a homeland defender, demand that the EPA and environmental protection agencies around the world update the risk assessments on the land application of sewage sludge, also known as biosolids. The EPA’s fraudulent sludge rule is outdated and fails to account for radioactive waste, carcinogens, pharmaceuticals and more, not to mention a deadly and unstoppable form of protein known as a prion, which is shed from people with neurodegenerative disease via blood, saliva, urine, feces, mucus and other bodily fluids. Wastewater reclamation is an even bigger threat than biosolids/sludge.

The largest prion pathway in the world is human sewage and the dumping of it on farms, ranches, forests, playgrounds, golf courses, parks, forests, and beyond. This illegal dumping of infectious waste is reckless and it’s contributing to a public health disaster. Neurodegenerative disease is the fastest-growing cause of death in the world. Sewage isn’t fuel, fertilizer or a safe source of drinking water. Unfortunately, it’s the source of deadly and unstoppable disease. It’s time to manage it responsibly.


public affairs and public relations firm

Crossbow Communications specializes in issue management and public affairs.  It’s also promoting sustainable, resilient and livable cities. Please contact Gary Chandler at to join our network.

Turning Concrete Jungles Into Centers of Sustainability

Sustainable Urbanization Is Wave Of Future–If We Have One

The tangled web of international organizations that constitutes global governance has become so remote and ineffective that few count on it to deliver results anymore. Now, after decades of turf wars and self-marginalization, international organizations must rally around an increasingly pressing global priority: Sustainable urbanization.

BeFunky_TheBridge.jpgThe world is undergoing an unprecedented and irreversible wave of urbanization, with the share of the global population living in cities set to reach 60 percent by 2030. But rapid urbanization is driving up industrial fossil-fuel consumption and household water consumption, and is increasing demand for food in areas where arable land is scarce. In short, the current urbanization trajectory is not sustainable.

But existing efforts to alter the situation remain woefully inadequate. While the United Nations General Assembly has tasked its agency for human settlements, UN-Habitat, with promoting sustainable urbanization, the agency lacks the influence to ensure that this vital issue makes it onto the global agenda.

Moreover, international development players–including UN agencies, NGOs, corporate citizenship programs, and other charitable organizations–rarely coordinate their activities, even though their interventions are increasingly concentrated in densely populated cities.

Given that promoting sustainable urbanization and improving coordination would bolster progress in other priority areas (including women’s rights, climate change, youth unemployment, and literacy), sustainable urbanization must become a bureaucratic priority. And it must be complemented by a technological disruption, with investments channeled toward developing and distributing innovations that would make cities more livable, efficient, and sustainable.

In fact, many useful innovations, such as energy-generating building materials and zero-emissions transportation, already exist; they simply need to be made accessible to those who need them most. Devices like small-scale water-filtration systems, portable heart monitors, and low-cost tablet computers are already dramatically improving the lives of the world’s poorest citizens and helping to level the economic playing field.

The future impact of global governance rests on forging new alignments that facilitate the flow of vital knowledge and technologies from an increasingly diverse array of sources to urban populations worldwide. The tools needed to make urban life more sustainable are no longer flowing only from North to South and West to East. China has taken the lead in exporting solar photovoltaic cells, while clean-tech parks are arising even in the Arab world.

Governments, companies, supply-chain managers, corporate-citizenship strategists, NGOs, and others should commit to reducing their carbon footprints and to leveraging their resources to contribute to sustainable urbanization. Opportunities to make such contributions are appearing constantly across all sectors.

In construction, for example, contractors are forming partnerships with labs to test materials that better reflect heat while absorbing energy to power cooling systems, and utility companies are leveraging new software tools to deploy smart meters in homes and offices. Two US cities–New York and Seattle–have raised efficiency standards for new construction to record levels.


Similarly, automobile manufacturers, mobility-services companies, and local governments are working together to advance sustainable transportation by providing incentives for efficient non-ownership of vehicles. Now, carpooling is gaining prevalence in cities like Berlin.

Furthermore, MIT has developed the foldable electric CityCar, four of which can fit into a parking space. At last year’s Rio+20 conference, the eight largest multilateral development banks pledged $175 billion (5.2 trillion baht) to develop sustainable transportation.

Information technology can also reduce stress on the transportation system. For example, Singapore is harnessing its near-complete fiber-optic network to reduce urban congestion by introducing a spate of measures encouraging workers to telecommute. As these measures take effect, self-sufficient satellite towns will likely develop, reducing transportation-related energy consumption further, while fostering a more active civil society.

Singapore is one of the cleanest and most efficient cities/countries in the world.
Singapore is one of the cleanest and most efficient cities/countries in the world.

Singapore is leading the way in another area as well: Production and distribution of potable recycled water. Many cities worldwide are following its example, expanding their water catchment and treatment programs.

Meanwhile, vertical farm experiments–which aim to augment urban food supplies by cultivating crops in skyscraper greenhouses–are proliferating from the American Midwest to Osaka, Japan. And India has become a leader in converting biomass and food waste into energy.

Of course, the billions of farmers and villagers worldwide should not be forgotten. Interventions like rural electrification, the provision of drought-resistant seeds and agricultural technology, and the expansion of micro-insurance are vital not only to rural populations’ welfare, but also to catalyze a new ”Green Revolution,” without which city dwellers will face severe food shortages.

With new, innovative solutions appearing every day, the real challenge lies in bringing them to scale–and that requires international cooperation. But the ”smartest” cities are not necessarily the most technologically advanced. Rather, they are the places where technology and public policy support citizens’ welfare and aspirations. This crucial fact will guide discussion at the New Cities Foundation’s second annual summit next month–the theme of which is ”The Human City”–the heart of sustainable urbanization initiatives.

By Parag Khanna, a senior fellow at the New America Foundation, is Director of the Hybrid Reality Institute and the author of The Second World, How to Run the World, and Hybrid Reality. 2013 Project Syndicate


Australia Accepting Applications For Most Sustainable Cities

Deadline Extended For Sustainability Award

Participants now have until June 24th to prepare their submissions for the 2013 Keep Australia Beautiful NSW Sustainable Cities Awards Program. To complete an entry and submission, please visit the awards categories page.

Penrith City Council is the current title holder of the Sustainable Cities Overall Council Winner for NSW. The Council’s ‘Sustainable Penrith – Working Towards a Sustainable City’ plan saw the council recycle over 22,000kL of water, reduce landfill waste by 5,500 tonnes and compost 32,000 tonnes of food and garden organic waste. To hear more about Penrith and why they won and how the Sustainable Cities Awards Program can benefit your organization view the ‘2012 Sustainable Cities Overall Winner – Penrith’ YouTube video.

Since 1994, the Keep Australia Beautiful NSW Sustainable Cities Awards Program has celebrated environmental initiatives delivered by local government authorities, schools, business, community groups, and individuals. The awards inspire communities to make lasting contributions to their local area and form partnerships to enhance the environment around them. In addition to Penrith City Council overall win last year, other projects as diverse as Sydney Theater Company’s water conservation program, Robert Townson High School’s student based environmental/sustainability team, and OzHarvest were recognized. A full list of winners is available on our 2012 Sustainable Cities page.

Each year Keep Australia Beautiful NSW is looking for the most innovative environmental and sustainability projects that address challenges, improve the standard of living and quality of life, and promote education and partnerships in metropolitan areas.

Entries are still open and FREE in all categories.

• Sydney Water Overall Sustainable Council Award
• Sydney Water Sustainable Water Award
• Office of Environment and Heritage Environmental Education Award
• Heritage Council of NSW Heritage Award
• Sustainable Waste Management Award
• Sustainable Youth Award
• Sustainable Business Award (NEW)
• Biodiversity Conservation Award
• Sustainable Garden Award

To assist with your submissions Keep Australia Beautiful NSW will be offering a workshop at the NSW Teachers Federation at 23-33 Mary Street in Surry Hills on 3 June from 2.00pm-3.30pm. The 2013 Sustainable Cities workshop is for any organisation or individual that would like more information about Keep Australia Beautiful NSW and the Sustainable Cities Awards Program.

The workshop will review who we are, what programs we run, changes to the 2013 Sustainable Cities Program, how to enter, the judging process, key dates, examples of previous winners, and more. If  you are considering participating this year or in the future, or if you would just like to find about more about the organization and how you can get involved, this workshop is for you! Please RSVP for this as soon as possible as space is limited to

If you are unable to attend the workshop, you have another opportunity to get more information about the program. We are running a live webinar on June 4th at 11 am, detailing the same information as above, and you will be able to view a non-live version on our website as of 6 June as well. Please RSVP and register for the webinar here.

The 2013 Sustainable Cities Awards Program will culminate at an awards ceremony on Friday, July 26th hosted by 2012 Overall Sustainable Council winner, Penrith City Council, at Mamre House in St. Marys. Mamre House will be providing sustainable event management throughout all aspects of the evening and some examples are below:

  • All foods and drinks will be sourced locally
  • All recyclable packaging will be recycled and all organic waste will be composted on site
  • Gifts for guests to take home are made from produce grown on-site, picked, prepared and bottled by participants in the Mamre Refugee social enterprise program and Mamre Disability Services
  • Centerpieces for the tables are being made by participants in the Mamre Farm Program and also Mamre Disability Services
  • Green Energy has been sourced for this event
  •  Water on the tables will be bottled in recyclable Sydney Water glass bottles
  • The “green carpet” has been maintained using recycled organic compost

The event will start with a tour focusing on some of the successful sustainable initiatives that Penrith City Council has recently implemented. Details of the event and tour are below:

Combined Heat and Power Saves Money, Reduces Emissions and Improves Energy Security

Conference Today

Event Date: May 22, 2013
Location: Independence Avenue and 1st Street, SE Room 210, Washington, DC

This briefing will introduce participants to Combined Heat and power (CHP) technology and present a number of recent case studies in which CHP systems helped communities pull through extreme weather events when the grid went down. Speakers will discuss both some of the opportunities and the barriers to deploying more CHP systems.

BeFunky_green citypeople.jpgSpeakers for this forum are:

Susan Wickwire, Chief, Energy Supply & Industry Branch, Climate Protection Partnerships Division, EPA

Anne Hampson, Senior Associate, ICF International

Robert Araujo, Manager for Sustainable Development and Environment, Health & Safety (EH&S), Sikorsky Helicopter

Tom Bourgeois, Deputy Director, Pace Energy and Climate Center, Pace University

Dale Louda, Executive Director, CHP Association

A recent study from ICF International details numerous case studies on the critical role CHP played keeping the lights, heat and air conditioning on during recent extreme weather events across the country. New York State Emergency Services and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority have been identifying and developing strategies to increase the use of CHP in key facilities to advance disaster preparedness, business continuity, and community sustainability.

Combined heat and power systems combine the production of heat and power into one process, using much less fuel than when heat and power are produced separately. CHP systems can achieve energy efficiencies of 80 percent or more, compared to producing heat and power separately, which is on average less than 45 percent efficient. CHP provides reliable energy to users on site and nearby, minimizing electricity transmission losses (which can range up to 7 percent) and increasing the resilience and reliability of local energy supplies. More than 3500 CHP systems are in use in the U.S. today. Most are fueled with natural gas, but renewable biomass, process wastes, and coal are also used. In 2011, the United States had more than 80 gigawatts (GW) of installed CHP capacity, representing about eight percent of total U.S. electric power generation capacity.

Contact Information

Company: Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI)
Name: Amaury Laporte
Phone: 202 662 1884
Website: Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI)