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Framework guides cities towards a greener future

The framework is a collaboration among cities, organisations, and experts which want to forge a common approach to sustainable development

Cities are invited to use the framework for a greener and more sustainable future
Cities are invited to use the framework for a greener and more sustainable future

The World Bank and the Global Environment Facility have launched the new Urban Sustainability Framework (USF), designed to serve as a guide for cities seeking to enhance their sustainability and to support them to achieve a greener future.


The GEF comprises 18 agencies, including United Nations agencies, multilateral development banks, national entities and international NGOs, which work with 183 countries to address the world’s most challenging environmental issues. It joined with the World Bank to launch the framework at the ninth session of the World Urban Forum (WUF9), which concluded yesterday in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.


The USF lays out six dimensions of urban sustainability: governance and integrated planning; fiscal sustainability; economic competitiveness; environment and resource efficiency; low carbon and resilience; and social inclusiveness.


The Framework is a collaboration among cities, organisations, and experts who have all contributed to its development.


“We are confident that through this collaboration, a shared vision and common approach to urban sustainable development can be forged. We invite cities to use the framework to meet the challenges they face today and in the coming decades, and we enthusiastically look forward to the collaborative efforts to adopt an integrated approach to urban sustainability,” said GEF CEO and chairperson Naoko Ishii.


The guidance defines a vision with priorities, determining financing, and, finally, monitoring and evaluating their project implementation progress.


“The USF assists cities to identify their sustainability aspirations and establish how they will finance their implementation plans. These two very important stages of the process go hand in hand,” said Ming Zhang, World Bank practice manager for urban development. “A special aspect of the USF is that it provides a corresponding selection of forward-looking methods and tools which peer cities are using to successfully finance and implement their projects.”


Cities can understand the USF’s dimensions of urban sustainability by using its Measuring Framework, which includes a selection of indicators that help cities track their progress toward their sustainability goals, while comparing against their peers, to promote an integrated approach to sustainability.


The USF is part of a larger collaboration for knowledge exchange on sustainable urban planning. Financed by the GEF and led by the World Bank, the Global Platform for Sustainable Cities (GPSC) was launched in March 2016. It was designed to meet the need for an enabling environment – a platform – that allows cities to exchange ideas, share experiences, use analytical tools, and, most importantly, steer investment toward long-term sustainability.


The GPSC assists cities in tapping into cutting-edge knowledge and expertise on topics ranging from urban planning to low-carbon strategy, transit-oriented development, and sustainable financing. Together with various partners in the urban realm, the GPSC is creating a suite of knowledge products and tools that will help cities drive their development agenda. The platform currently comprises of 28 cities from 11 countries.


An important collaborator joined the platform at WUF9 with the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the city of Aarhus, Denmark, and the World Bank. Through the MOU, Denmark’s second largest city becomes a knowledge partner of the GPSC.


“Aarhus is very excited to become a GPSC knowledge partner and the opportunity this presents to collaborate with cities on a world-wide scale. We definitely have worthwhile experiences to share with our peers, and likewise hope to learn from others. Through this knowledge exchange, Aarhus can reflect upon our own policies and practices and work toward improving the city’s urban sustainability,”said Jacob Bundsgaard, Mayor of Aarhus.


GPSC and Aarhus will be collaborating in the following areas: sustainable, integrated planning strategies; low carbon development towards the goal of carbon neutrality; adaptation and resilience; and water management.


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