Quantcast

Richard Branson Presents Sustainia Award for World's Most Innovative City Solution

Climate

Effective and inspirational, the redesign of Indian city Chennai wins the 2015 Sustainia Award, chaired by Arnold Schwarzenegger, for its solution to the city’s mounting air pollution and traffic casualties. The city receives the award, while experiencing incessant rainfalls, overflowing rivers and lakes are causing thousands to flee the city, stressing the importance of sustainable solutions and climate adaptation.

Richard Branson presented the Sustainia Award 2015 to the Corporation of Chennai on Dec. 6 in Paris at a COP21 side event. Photo credit: Stefanie Spear

With more than 10,000 traffic crashes reported in Chennai every year—one of the highest rates of road deaths in India—and outdoor pollution as one of the region’s top health risks, this year’s Sustainia Award Winner addresses climate, transportation and health challenges in one go.

In 2012, the City of Chennai, along with the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, implemented sweeping changes to give the city’s streets back to the people. This policy solution requires that at least 60 percent of the city’s transport budget to be allocated to constructing and maintaining infrastructure for non-motorized transit, including expanded footpaths, safe pedestrian crossings, protected cycle tracks, conveniently placed bus stops and clearly designated on-street parking.

So far, Chennai has created wide and continuous footpaths on 26 streets, and work on the next 60 streets is underway. Amazingly, there have been no new cases of any road crash fatalities reported from the streets that have undergone the redesign. The city aims to have safe and continuous footpaths on at least 80 percent of its streets by 2018, and as the expansion process continues, the city is serving as a model for other Indian cities, such as Trichy and Madurai, looking to make similar improvements.

The Chennai solution addresses major challenges linked to rapid urbanization in countries across the globe. In 1990, less than 40 percent of the global population lived in a city. In 2050, the expected number will increase to 70 percent. The World Health Organization warns that urban outdoor air pollution is responsible for 1.3 million premature deaths worldwide per year and by 2050, according to the OECD, air pollution is projected to become the biggest environmental cause of mortality worldwide.  

Ted Turner was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Sustainia Award Ceremony on Dec. 6 in Paris at a COP21 side event. Photo credit: Stefanie Spear

From Chennai to Paris

While our spotlight is on Chennai, another city grabbing the world’s attention this week is Paris. Together with nine other leading innovations from nine different countries, the Indian city solution presented their project on stage at the annual Sustainia Award Ceremony, an event celebrating state-of-the-art innovations across 10 sectors such as food, fashion, transportation and buildings in an effort to bridge the gap between the political negotiations and the innovations on the ground.

The award ceremony was held in Paris on Dec. 5 during the UN climate change negotiations, COP21, to send a signal to global leaders that national level policies must be supported by concrete solutions and local action. Chennai’s project proves that cities have the power to become healthier, safer and more sustainable places, and that committed local leadership can show national authorities that change is not only possible, it’s necessary for a prosperous future.

About the Sustainia Award

Sustainia Award is an annual international award given to a solution, technology or project with a significant potential to help build a more sustainable future. Through a worldwide submissions campaign, the partners behind Sustainia Award each year create a list of 100 readily available innovations to highlight that a sustainable transition is possible and already happening.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Leonardo DiCaprio: ‘Do Not Wait Another Day’ to Move to 100% Renewable Energy

Carl Pope: Cities Can Lead … Cities Want to Lead … So Let them!

Bill McKibben: ‘Paris Summit is Missing One of the Great World Leaders on Climate’ Because He’s in Prison

Climate Change Blamed for Southern India’s Worst Flooding in More Than a Century

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Milk made from almonds, oats and coconut are among the healthiest alternatives to cow's milk. triocean / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Dairy aisles have exploded with milk and milk alternative options over the past few years, and choosing the healthiest milk isn't just about the fat content.

Whether you're looking beyond cow's milk for health reasons or dietary preferences or simply want to experiment with different options, you may wonder which type of milk is healthiest for you.

Read More Show Less
Greta Thunberg stands aboard the catamaran La Vagabonde as she sets sail to Europe in Hampton, Virginia, on Nov. 13. NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP via Getty Images

Greta Thunberg, the teenage climate activist whose weekly school strikes have spurred global demonstrations, has cut short her tour of the Americas and set sail for Europe to attend COP25 in Madrid next month, as The New York Times reported.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
The Lake Delhi Dam in Iowa failed in 2010. VCU Capital News Service / Josh deBerge / FEMA

At least 1,688 dams across the U.S. are in such a hazardous condition that, if they fail, could force life-threatening floods on nearby homes, businesses, infrastructure or entire communities, according to an in-depth analysis of public records conducted by the the Associated Press.

Read More Show Less

By Sabrina Kessler

Far-reaching allegations about how a climate-sinning American multinational could shamelessly lie to the public about its wrongdoing mobilized a small group of New York students on a cold November morning. They stood in front of New York's Supreme Court last week to follow the unprecedented lawsuit against ExxonMobil.

Read More Show Less

By Alex Robinson

Leah Garcés used to hate poultry farmers.

The animal rights activist, who opposes factory farming, had an adversarial relationship with chicken farmers until around five years ago, when she sat down to listen to one. She met a poultry farmer called Craig Watts in rural North Carolina and learned that the problems stemming from factory farming extended beyond animal cruelty.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
People navigate snow-covered sidewalks in the Humboldt Park neighborhood on Nov. 11 in Chicago. Scott Olson / Getty Images

Temperatures plunged rapidly across the U.S. this week and around 70 percent of the population is expected to experience temperatures around freezing Wednesday.

Read More Show Less
A general view of the flooded St. Mark's Square after an exceptional overnight "Alta Acqua" high tide water level, on Nov. 13 in Venice. MARCO BERTORELLO / AFP / Getty Images

Two people have died as Venice has been inundated by the worst flooding it has seen in more than 50 years, The Guardian reported Wednesday.

Read More Show Less
Supply boats beside Aberdeen Wind Farm on Aug. 4, 2018. Rab / CC BY 2.0

President Donald Trump doesn't like wind turbines.

In April, he claimed they caused cancer, and he sued to stop an offshore wind farm that was scheduled to go up near land he had purchased for a golf course in Aberdeenshire in Scotland. He lost that fight, and now the Trump Organization has agreed to pay the Scottish government $290,000 to cover its legal fees, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

Read More Show Less