Toolbox for urban decarbonisation and resilience

Circular graphic showing how a combination of ultra-efficient buildings, smart energy infrastructure, plus clean electrification and decarbonisation combine to create value for society and the economy.

The World Economic Forum, in partnership with four leading organisations, has launched a first-of-its-kind platform for urban decarbonisation, the Toolbox of Solutions, at a session on Zero-Carbon Buildings and Cities, at COP27.

Cities have a critical role to play in the race to reach net zero and, with the clock ticking on calls for climate action, there is now an urgent global need to deliver on urban decarbonisation, at both speed and scale.

By 2050, it is estimated that 68% of people will live in cities, resulting in rising emissions from greater energy consumption and infrastructure demand. Despite the fact that most of the solutions to reduce global carbon emissions already exist, however, they are not being adopted and scaled rapidly enough.

Best practice shared with city stakeholders worldwide

To help address this challenge, the World Economic Forum (WEF), supported by knowledge partner Accenture, is collaborating with the National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA), Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL), the Basel Agency for Sustainable Energy (BASE), and Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) to gather global best practices, curated in the Toolbox of Solutions. The group will then share successful examples with city stakeholders worldwide.

The Toolbox aims to inspire, says Kristen Panerali, Head of Energy, Materials and Infrastructure Programme, Clean Power, Electrification and Net-Zero Carbon Cities, World Economic Forum: 

“For urban ecosystems, the solutions and innovations needed to reduce emissions already exist. We know that to shift the climate change trajectory, urban ecosystems and the economy must become far more efficient, electric and circular. The toolbox contains inspiration from around the world to reduce emissions while also boosting economic development, creating jobs and improving air quality,”

The Toolbox of Solutions contains over 300 case studies drawn from more than 150 cities. It enables its users to access solutions through a search tailored to each city’s strategic planning priorities, as well as specific attributes including electricity grid health, population density and income level.

The toolbox contains knowledge and proven examples which result in lower emissions, as well as advancing economic development, job creation and improved human health through better air and water quality.

Group collaboration promotes a joined-up approach, explains Damilola Ogunbiyi, CEO and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All and Co-Chair of UN-Energy:

“A just, inclusive and equitable energy transition will be impossible without data-driven technologies and solutions. Our collaboration with the World Economic Forum on the Toolbox of Solutions aligns with our existing initiatives, including the SEforALL Knowledge Hub and ‘This is Cool’, which support sharing of knowledge and solutions to accelerate SDG7 and a clean energy future.”

The toolbox has been designed to work in tandem with the City Sprint process — a structured workshop series which convenes local business and city leaders to identify new pathways and partnerships. The objective of the City Sprint is to foster public-private collaboration by creating a coalition of local stakeholders that can implement projects in each city after the City Sprint workshops have concluded.

So far, the World Economic Forum and its delivery partners have completed over 10 City Sprints in the past year and plan to conduct more with new cities in 2023.

Sharing must happen at multiple scales, says Hitesh Vaidya, Director, National Institute of Urban Affairs:

“Climate change and its impacts are not bound by jurisdictions and require a collaborative approach. Sharing of responsibilities by players across the spectrum — at various scales of planning and implementation is a key to the path of net zero.

“NIUA through their collaboration with the Forum is sharing knowledge via the Toolbox of Solutions and leading their own series of City Sprints in India with a focus on mainstreaming climate actions in the local development agenda to enable Indian cities towards a sustainable and resilient future as part of the Sustainable Cities India Program.”

Energy efficiency, clean electrification and resource circularity

The WEF Net-Zero Carbon Cities programme aims to catalyse urban decarbonisation and resilience by highlighting proven solutions and fostering public-private collaboration among city stakeholders. It seeks to enable transformation towards net zero through energy efficiency, clean electrification and resource circularity, using integrated solutions across energy, mobility and the built environment.

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