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This joint report from Cities Alliance and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) finds that the rapid pace of urbanisation represents an opportunity to build more sustainable, innovative and equitable towns and cities, and to use the world’s natural resources more efficiently. It offers strategies for decision makers to introduce measures that can spur inclusive economic growth and reduce poverty, while ensuring sustainable levels of consumption and production.
Some of the proactive measures city leaders can take to help to improve resource efficiency and reduce negative environmental impacts include:
- Mainstreaming environmental priorities into city-level and local development plans, in particular through City Development Strategies that work to reconcile urban economic growth with better resource efficiency;
- Incorporating emerging ideas about the green urban economy, which show how density can generate environmental and social opportunities, including through green urban infrastructure;
- Integrating greenhouse gas emissions reduction strategies in urban planning and management, which can reduce the impact that cities have on the global environment while improving the quality of life for urban residents;
- Creating “green jobs”;
- Undertaking environmental rehabilitation projects that can enhance ecosystem services, improving the quality of the environment while reducing costs of remedial air and water treatment;
- Expanding access to energy through greening energy supplies, which can provide electricity to households that were previously reliant on wood or kerosene;
- Underpinning each of these strategies with strong political support and commitment.
The report also examines practical mechanisms for funding urban environmental activities, noting that financial limitations have frequently impeded meaningful environmental activities in the past.