New publication highlights urban projects that address the nexus of climate action and social equity

15. November 2016

Cities are using climate action as an opportunity to simultaneously address systemic social challenges, according to Cities100, a publication released today that showcases 100 solutions for climate action in cities.

Now in its second year, Cities100 – presented by C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40), Sustainia and Realdania – showcases leading solutions to urban climate challenges in ten sectors, ranging from solid waste management to transportation. For the first time, this year’s publication features solutions that address the nexus of climate change and social equity.

Today, more than half the world’s population lives in urban areas and this is projected to rise to two-thirds by 2050. Yet the impacts of climate change are not distributed equally or fairly: people living in cities – particularly in low-income countries – are disproportionately affected by the burden of the changing climate. Fortunately, creating more adaptive and resilient cities also yields the co-benefit of fostering sustainable economic development – projects that expand urban agriculture and local energy production, for instance, can improve economic opportunities for those most in need. A good example of this is taking place in Tshwane, South Africa, where the Tshwane Food and Energy Centre is providing cooperative farming opportunities and self-sustaining renewable energy generation to an underprivileged community, allowing small scale farmers to ensure their own food security, earn income from food sales, and produce on-site clean energy.

Another good example of the climate change and social equity nexus is Seoul’s Energy Welfare Public-Private Partnership Program. This initiative seeks to reduce energy poverty by encouraging energy saving partnerships between local government and private actors, such as universities, and funneling those savings into a fund that finances energy efficiency upgrades in low-income communities.

Mark Watts, Executive Director, C40, said: “Faced with climate change, making our cities fit for the future is not just a matter of survival, but also presents us with an important opportunity to address social inequality. I am inspired to see so many cities taking strong and urgent action.”

Available online and in print, Cities100 provides stakeholders an accessible format to explore achievable solutions for climate action in cities, and will be a useful tool for relevant groups ranging from impact investors and development organizations, to mayors and city governments. 

Morten Nielsen, Managing Director, Sustainia, said: “As we enter into the climate negotiations at COP22, the solutions presented in Cities100 show that climate action is already happening, often in nimble and collaborative ways that do not rely on the will of national governments. By addressing climate action in tandem with social equity, it’s clear that cities have a major role to play in shaping global sustainable development.”

Jesper Nygård, CEO from the Danish philanthropic association Realdania – a Strategic Funder of C40 and a Founding Partner of Sustainia – says: “Cities and local governments are at the forefront of climate change. This year’s Cities100 clearly shows that Mayors will not sit idly by when they are faced with climate change, rising inequality and slowing economic growth. I am impressed at the scale of action and it fills me with optimism when I see holistic action provide multiple benefits to citizens, cities and climate.”

  • Cities100 is a mission shared by Sustainia, C40, and Realdania to find the 100 leading city solutions to climate change. To identify groundbreaking projects from around the world, C40 and Sustainia launched a public campaign for applications, which yielded 160 eligible project submissions. In order to find the projects with the largest potential to create low-carbon and resilient cities, the applications were vetted and assessed by city and climate change experts at C40 and Sustainia, who used a detailed scoring system based on five criteria:


    1. Climate Action: The expected or achieved CO2 reduction and/or climate risk mitigation of the project

    2. Co-benefits: The extent to which the project has positive co-benefits for other aspects of society, in addition to its climate change mitigation and CO2 reductions

    3. Innovation: The extent to which the project takes an entirely new or groundbreaking approach to address major environmental issues

    4. Governance: How well the project is incorporated into larger city plans, collaborates with other entities in the city, and engages citizens in the project’s development and implementation

    5. Sharing and scaling: The extent to which the project experience is shared with other cities and regions, and the future potential to scale the project within the city

  • The C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, now in its 11th year, connects more than 85 of the world’s greatest cities, representing 650+ million people and one quarter of the global economy. Created and led by cities, C40 is focused on tackling climate change and driving urban action that reduces greenhouse gas emissions and climate risks, while increasing the health, wellbeing and economic opportunities of urban citizens. The current chair of the C40 is Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes; three-term Mayor of New York City Michael R. Bloomberg serves as President of the Board. C40’s work is made possible by three strategic funders: Bloomberg Philanthropies, Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), and Realdania. 

  • Realdania is a Danish, modern philanthropic association that works to create quality of life and benefit the common good by improving the built environment: cities, buildings, and the built heritage. Realdania is both a Strategic Funder of C40 and a Founding Partner of Sustainia.

  • Sustainia is an international sustainability think tank and consultancy working to accelerate action towards a sustainable future. In order to realize this, we partner with companies, cities, and organizations to map their position, navigate the changing landscape, and communicate with impact. Sustainia is founded by Scandinavian think tank Monday Morning and developed in close collaboration with UN Global Compact, Regions20, Connect4Climate, and world-leading companies and organizations, DNV GL, Realdania, Storebrand, and WWF.


CEO Jesper Nygård
T: +45 70 11 66 66

Katie McCrory, Sustainia
T: 45 91 40 50 26

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