Cities100: A guide to cities preparing for the next Harvey and Irma

18. September 2017

New report presents the best solutions to climate change and climate-related disasters from cities around the world.

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma and extreme monsoon rains in South Asia have once again revealed the vulnerability of the world’s cities in the face of climate-related disasters and the urgent need for new solutions. Released today, the Cities100 publication showcases the best examples of how cities are tackling climate change and adapting to a future on a warming planet. 

For the third year in a row, Sustainia has collaborated with C40 and Realdania to create Cities100. The 2017 publication presents 100 of the most innovative green solutions from 73 cities and 29 countries across five sectors: transportation, waste, energy, mitigation and adaptation. Extreme flooding in India and Bangladesh, along with recent hurricanes Harvey and Irma wreaked havoc in cities across the United States and the Caribbean Islands, and particularly the adaptation solutions in the new Cities100-report show how cities can minimize the impact of climate-related disasters in the future. These solutions can help cities to become greener, cleaner, more resilient, and more socially inclusive while saving trillions of dollars in damage repairs.

One example is Jakarta, which has vowed to keep its 10 million inhabitants safe from heavy rain-induced flooding by building 3,000 water-absorbing parks by 2022. With the project already underway, flood duration has been reduced from three days to only three hours. Additionally, the parks are making the city a safer and more enjoyable place for children while providing jobs, improving air quality, and reducing CO2 emissions.

Another example can be found in a collaboration between New York and Copenhagen. Sharing the same risks from coastal flooding and frequent heavy rainstorms or cloudbursts, the two cities have decided to join forces and share solutions. Copenhagen’s cloudburst project delivered estimated savings of $290 million through flood resiliency, and New York will be following suit by creating green, social spaces that will prevent flooding and treat stormwater. In turn, Copenhagen is drawing on New York City's experience with coastal flooding.

Jesper Nygård, CEO of Realdania says: “This year’s Cities100 report underlines yet again the ingenuity and seriousness by which cities all over the world respond to climate change. And I think it calls for optimism to see cities taking the lead when important nations, deferring from the UN Climate Agreement, tend to pull in the wrong direction. I congratulate this year’s selection of city solutions, and hope all one hundred of them will be a source of inspiration and collaboration between cities all over the world.”

Cities are reaping the co-benefits of climate action

This year, the Cities100-report also shows that cities all over the world are uniting to integrate climate action into every aspect of their work, from planning, construction, public health, and governance. The projects in this year’s Cities100 are not only being rolled out at a faster rate and greater scale because of the urgent threat posed by climate change. Crucially they are also addressing health and social challenges while creating green jobs and boosting economic growth.

Mark Watts, Executive Director, C40, says: “The recent extreme monsoon rains that flooded Mumbai and Dhaka, along with a series of hurricanes that caused such damage to Houston, Miami, Havana and cities across the Caribbean, reveal the urgency of the climate crisis facing the world’s cities. The case studies in Cities100 show, yet again, that it is mayors who recognize the scale of the threat and are creating the most innovative solutions to climate change. Through Cities100, C40, Sustainia and Realdania hope to inspire the mayors of cities large and small to take the very best ideas from around the world and make them work in their city.”

New urban innovation hub with 300 green solutions 

New this year, the Cities100 will have a designated space on the Global Opportunity Explorer – a platform which exhibits innovative solutions from around the world that help reach the Sustainable Development Goals. This allows readers the opportunity to navigate all 300 city solutions presented in the past three years and share them online. The platform is a collaboration between Sustainia, DNV GL and the UN Global Compact.

CEO and founder of Sustainia, Erik Rasmussen, explains: “The last few weeks have taught us an expensive lesson about the need for developing resilient cities - and how urgent it is. Any city should be looking for new ideas and solutions to be prepared for the next big storm, and in this respect Cities100 represents an important toolbox which documents and demonstrates what really works in different parts of the world.”

24 of this year’s Cities100 solutions will be shortlisted for the C40 Cities Awards, which provides global recognition for cities that are demonstrating climate action leadership. Find out more on c40.org/awards.

You can access Cities100 online from September 18 on Cities100.com

See the new report

  • Sustainia is partnering with Climate Reality to host a Cities100 Twitter Chat, which invites some of the Cities100 experts and city solutions leaders to share their insights. Ask a question or join the debate by following #Cities100 at 10:00 ET / 16:00 CEST on September 20.

    About Cities100
    Cities100 is a mission shared by Sustainia, C40, and Realdania to identify 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 175 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 urban 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 reduction
    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
    About Sustainia
    Sustainia is an international sustainability think tank and consultancy working to accelerate action towards a sustainable future. In order to realize this, Sustainia partners with companies, cities, and organizations to map their position, help them navigate new markets, and communicate with impact. Sustainia is founded by Scandinavian think tank Monday Morning and developed in close collaboration with UN Global Compact, Regions20 and world-leading companies and organizations, DNV GL, Realdania, Storebrand, and WWF. Follow Sustainia on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.
    About the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group
    C40 Cities connects more than 90 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 Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo; and three-term Mayor of New York City Michael R. Bloomberg serves as President of the Board. C40’s work is made possible by our three strategic funders: Bloomberg Philanthropies, Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), and Realdania. To learn more about the work of C40 and our cities, please visit www.c40.org, follow us on Twitter @c40cities or Instagram @c40cities and like us on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/C40Cities


Joachim Christensen, Communications Officer, Sustainia
T: 26 92 99 75
M: jch@sustainia.me

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