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Transforming our Cities

Monday 20 October 11.00-12.15, the Eigtveds Pakhus, Copenhagen

Moderator: Andrew Steer, President and CEO, World Resources Institute 

Dr. Andrew Steer, President & CEO, World Resources Institute

Sir Suma Chakrabarti, President, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)
Mr. Frank Jensen, Lord Mayor, City of Copenhagen and Member of C40 Board
Mr. Pierre-André de Chalendar, CEO Saint-Gobain
Mr. Wim Elfrink, Executive Vice President, Industry Solutions & Chief Globalisation Officer, CISCO
Mr. Niels B. Christiansen, CEO & President, Danfoss
Mr. Juan Carlos Belausteguigoitia Rius. Executive Director, Centro Mario Molina, Mexico


With cities expected to hold almost 6 billion people by 2050 – ensuring sustainable urbanization is one of the main challenges of this century. If successfully turned into opportunities, cities can become future drivers of green growth. The choices cities make today will lock in consumption patterns for the majority of the world’s population in the future.

This crucial role of cities implies that smart cities – and smart city solutions – might provide the needed tipping points for ensuring green growth at scale – across cities, countries and regions.

Indeed, ensuring sustainable urbanisation – or promoting liveable cities – has increasingly entered the international green agenda. The role of cities has become a prominent topic among institutional investors looking for innovative and green solutions and technologies, in multilateral discussions on the post-2015/SDG agenda, in international climate talks, and is increasingly recognized as drivers of sustainable and green growth in and among developing countries. Global efforts are being made –  the three big city networks – C40, ICLEI and UCLF – aim to launch a “Compact of Mayors” at the UN Climate Summit in September 2014.  Under the auspices of Sustainable Energy for All a “Building Efficiency Accelerator” is also expected to be launched at the Climate Summit seeking to engage i.a. cities with a value proposition delivering roadmaps for improved energy efficiency in buildings. To ensure concrete results of these launches, the commitments must be accompanied by engagement of the private sector, national governments, development institutions and investors. Transforming our cities will require a joint effort across the board.

Session description

The 3GF aims to forge these needed coalitions by engaging some of the leading actors and initiatives - both through high-level plenary discussions as well as through some of the partnership tracks at 3GF2014. Much research, initiatives and partnerships have been devoted to the issue but often we find that the approaches address either the issue of ensuring financing or promoting integrated urban solutions. The 3GF plenary explored ways of promoting a systemic approach to sustainable urbanisation integrating urban design, utilities (energy, water, waste), infrastructure planning and financing models. The plenary discussed how to getting down to business, overcoming barriers like the national-municipal disconnect and insufficient capacities. The plenary also stressed that cities can act as effective test beds for innovation and cost-effective demonstration of low carbon infrastructure. But to shift from small, high carbon projects to large-scale low carbon programmes, partnerships are needed. This entails cooperation between cities and national government, private sector delivery, big finance and research institutes for innovation. In short, cities might be where some of the most important partnerships need to be formed and where the opportunity for scale is greatest. Providing a platform for high-level city representatives, the plenary will thus followed up  on and leveraged the city-relevant commitments at the UN Climate Summit with key inputs from government, private sector and investor representatives.

Session goals

At the end of the session, the plenary:

  • Identified ways of supporting the “Compact of Mayors” and the “Building Efficiency Accelerator” engaging the business community and investors promoting a systemic approach to sustainable urbanisation – with a particular focus on catalytic philanthropy as potentially instrumental to pave the way for investors.
  • Presented cities a critical sites of economic growth and identified key drivers of cities’ green economy (case examples and methodologies from the New Climate Economy Project)

Proposed discussion questions

  • How can cities deliver on their compacts?
  • What does a roadmap for energy efficiency in buildings look like?
  • What kind of support are cities missing from national level? From private sector?
  • What are the main barriers for national policy makers in engaging in planning for urban development?
  • How to aggregate markets to provide scale and volume for big investors?
  • Can catalytic philanthropy pave the way?
  • Examples of cities acting as test beds – how to scale? – To other cities, from city to national/regional level?