Applications Invited for Climate Smart Cities Challenge

A pollution scene in India's capital New Delhi which is the most polluted national capital in the world. Photo: Rakesh Raman / RMN News Service
A pollution scene in India’s capital New Delhi which is the most polluted national capital in the world. Photo: Rakesh Raman / RMN News Service

The Climate Smart Cities Challenge is making an open call to city governments and agencies around the world to join an open competition that aims to stimulate and scale innovative ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in cities while creating other social benefits.

The initiative—spearheaded by Teknikföretagen, Viable Cities, UN-Habitat, Smart City Sweden, and Vinnova, and delivered by Nesta Challenges—is an opportunity for cities to work with a global pool of experts to find and scale innovative solutions to urgent problems.

According to the UN, cities contribute about 60% of the global GDP and 75% of global CO2 emissions. With 55% of the world’s population living in cities (a figure expected to increase to 68% within three decades), city governments and authorities recognize the essential role they have to play in tackling climate change.

They now have the opportunity to collaborate with a global pool of technologists, businesses and investors to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create a better world for future generations.

The Climate Smart Cities Challenge seeks to help cities address emissions as a strategy to overcome interconnected sustainability challenges stemming from rising inequalities including a lack of affordable housing and transport options, food and energy insecurity and other problems exacerbated by the climate crisis.

Potential solutions will reach across sectors and could address everything from how neighborhoods, schools and offices are designed in a post-Covid world to how people travel, what their green spaces look like and how their buildings are heated and cooled.

The rapid shifts in society due to Covid-19 present a powerful lesson that society is capable of near-overnight transformation that is needed to confront the most urgent threats, such as the climate and pollution crises that threaten the very viability of cities.

As highlighted by the UN Secretary-General’s Brief on Covid in an Urban World, cities can manage this crisis and emerge as the hubs of energy, resilience and innovation that make them such vibrant and appealing places for many to live.

The open call invites city governments and agencies to identify shared issues experienced by cities around the world. It asks cities and key stakeholders to highlight the significant problems they face and are struggling to overcome, to develop solutions that transform the way cities grow, develop, change and respond to human and environmental needs in the coming decades.

The intended outcome of the open call is the creation of a global innovation competition that will launch in 2021 at the World Expo in Dubai to encourage, support and reward multidisciplinary teams to scale and demonstrate replicable solutions that cities can use to cut their greenhouse gasses emissions and promote a better quality of life for all.

City governments, agencies and key stakeholders interested in collaborating in the development of the Climate Smart Cities Challenge should submit an entry to the open call before the deadline of 22 January 2021.

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Rakesh Raman