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The world's cities are growing rapidly and in 2050 two thirds of the global population is expected to reside in urban areas, compared to 50 percent today. That puts pressure on infrastructure, energy supply and housing capabilities in a global climate that is poised to become hotter and less predictable. The challenges become even more complex considering that climate change does not affect urban dwellers equally, with low-income households and poor neighborhoods being particularly vulnerable.
Yet, some cities are using climate action as an opportunity to simultaneously address systemic social challenges. Seoul, the capital of South Korea and Tshwane, in South Africa, are just two cities with solutions featured in this sector which readily demonstrate how climate action and social development can go hand in hand.
Seoul's Energy Welfare Public-Private Partnership Program, for example, seeks to provide cheaper and more reliable power to low-income households, while creating jobs for disadvantaged job seekers. The program trains and employs socially vulnerable workers as energy consultants who assess energy performance and potential savings in poor communities. The program is partly funded by peak hour energy savings from municipal buildings.
The Tshwane Food and Energy Centre provides cooperative farming opportunities and self-sustaining renewable energy generation to an underprivileged community. The 25 cooperative farms allow small-scale farmers to ensure their own food security, earn income from food sales and produce on-site clean energy.
Now in its second year, Cities100 is produced in partnership between Sustainia, C40 and Realdania. It features 100 city solutions, ranging from solid waste management to transportation, that show how cities are blazing a path towards climate adaptation and mitigation.
climate change, making our cities fit for the future is not just a matter of survival, but also presents us with an important opportunity to address social inequality," Mark Watts, executive director of C40, said. "I am inspired to see so many cities taking strong and urgent action."
The publication comes during COP22, when government officials are gathered in Marrakech to put into force the Paris agreement—the most extensive and ambitious agreement on climate action the world has ever seen. Cities will undoubtedly have a huge role in keeping temperatures from rising. Morten Nielsen, managing director for Sustainia, commented, "As we enter into the climate negotiations at COP22, the solutions presented in Cities100 show that climate action is already happening, often in nimble and collaborative ways that do not rely on the will of national governments. By addressing climate action in tandem with social equity, it's clear that cities have a major role to play in shaping global sustainable development."
Jesper Nygaard, CEO of Realdania, is confident that cities are up for the challenge, he said, "Cities and local governments are at the forefront of climate change. This year's Cities100 clearly shows that mayors will not sit idly by when they are faced with climate change, rising inequality and slowing economic growth. I am impressed at the scale of action and it fills me with optimism when I see holistic action provide multiple benefits to citizens, cities and climate.
Sustainia and the UN Global Compact announced Monday a unique global partnership that is committed to building the world's biggest interactive platform for sustainable solutions. The Global Solutions Platform aims to inspire global companies to develop new products, business models and partnerships that can help reach the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Sustainable solutions can be found in every corner of the globe. From solar-powered water purification to sneakers made from plastic waste, they all make our world a cleaner, greener and fairer place. Unfortunately, they are fragmented and often poorly understood.
In response to this challenge, UN Global Compact and Sustainia have announced a new strategic partnership which is committed to creating the world's biggest virtual showroom, putting sustainable solutions just one click away.
The Global Solutions Platform is designed to be the go-to place for business leaders seeking connections and inspiration, for investors seeking new opportunities and for authorities in need of credible private partners. The full platform will launch in early 2017.
"The Global Solutions Platform will be a global focal point for product and business model innovation. It empowers business leaders and entrepreneurs to take leadership in this new landscape which demands solutions to global challenges," Erik Rasmussen, CEO of Sustainia, said Monday.
Sustainia brings more than five years of experience in the solutions sector to this new partnership. Since 2012, the company has worked extensively to identify the most promising sustainable solutions and global trends, presented each year in its flagship publication, the Sustainia100. These are solutions that turn food shortages into effective agriculture, unemployment into targeted education programs and digital jobs, and polluted cities into sun-powered, green metropolises. In five years, more than 4,500 solutions have come onto Sustainia's radar and these solutions will provide the initial foundation for the ambitious new platform.
Support from leaders worldwide
According to a 2016 UN Global Compact-Accenture study, 87 percent of global CEOs believe that the UN Sustainable Development Goals represent an essential opportunity to rethink approaches to sustainability. A further 49 percent of CEOs claim that sustainability issues are already part of board-level discussions and express the need for integrating sustainability into their strategic planning. Therefore, the new platform will bridge growing awareness of the UN Sustainable Development Goals with the practical solutions business leaders need in order to implement their sustainability plans.
The announcement was made at the UN Global Compact Private Sector Forum, an annual event attended by senior business leaders in order to further business action on sustainable development. The full platform will be rolled out in the spring and will be supported by a global solutions campaign that will give business leaders an opportunity to submit their sustainable solutions for inclusion.