UN commits to scaling up climate resilience efforts in cities

Lindsay James
Lindsay James
By Lindsay James on 10 October 2014
UN commits to scaling up climate resilience efforts in cities

At the recent UN Climate Summit 2014, which was held in New York City, mayors from cities around the world announced that they will expand their commitments to scale up climate resilience efforts, energy efficiency programmes and resilient financing mechanisms, including through an initiative that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 454 megatons by 2020.

This particular plan, known as the ‘Compact of Mayors’, brings together over two thousand cities, including over 200 with specific targets and strategies for greenhouse gas reductions. 60% of the world’s population will live in cities by 2030 and that figure will increase to 70% by 2050.

“From Rio to Seoul, mayors are already making great progress in fighting climate change and preparing their cities for its devastating impacts,” said Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes. “These announcements show the world that we are committed to transparent, easily accessible, emissions reporting.”

Other announcements including the City Climate Finance Leadership Alliance and a City Creditworthiness Partnership will also help the world’s cities to reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by 8 gigatons annually in 2050 – the equivalent of 50% of global coal use.

“Now is the time for nations to partner with cities as they create more ambitious climate targets over the next year, both to help the world avoid the worst impacts of climate change and to benefit millions of people,” said former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Helping to reconcile the anticipated growth of urban areas and the dependency on natural resources is a key focus of Microsoft and its CityNext initiative, which addresses the need to create more efficient, prosperous and economically competitive cities.

“Faced with the mounting pressures of population growth and resource depletion, only cities that find ways to manage their resources more efficiently and bridge the disparate systems within a city to optimise performance and value creation will lead the way,” Microsoft chief environmental and cities strategist, Rob Bernard, said in a recent blog post. “Investing in information and data as a resource will allow cities to be able to service increasing populations more efficiently and with less waste. Leveraging data to better manage cities’ infrastructures will assist in providing more, higher quality services while at the same time offering greater cost certainty.”

Through the Microsoft CityNext project, Microsoft and its worldwide partner network are working with cities to become more modern and to provide safer, healthier and more educated communities where citizens can thrive. “As smart cities and sustainability become more interdependent, we realise the importance of harnessing our expertise and commitment to both of these issues, and bringing them closer together,” Bernard said. “In order to better address the challenges and opportunities that both cities and our partners face in the increasingly systemic areas of sustainability and cities, my sustainability team and I will be joining forces with our CityNext team to drive greater synergies and opportunities for enabling impact at scale. This new team will allow us to bring together the expertise across Microsoft and drive a more holistic approach to this challenge.”

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