There is strength in numbers, the old idiom goes. Indeed, history shows that collaboration fosters ideas and results. Next week, the Global Platform for Sustainable Cities, or GPSC, will convene in New Delhi, India, to again share ideas and build on their collective vision: to work towards shaping cities that are sustainable, thriving, and inclusive through the decades ahead.
The gathering starting on October 30 is only the GPSC’s second annual meeting, as we launched the platform just last year in Singapore. Yet the 27 participating cities across 11 countries—and more members are very welcome—are moving ahead with confidence, embarking on innovative programs to realize their vision and galvanizing their national governments to establish platforms of their own. China, Malaysia, and India in Asia, Paraguay and Brazil in Latin America, and other participating cities are actively pursuing sustainable urbanization.
This strength in numbers is made possible by staunch supporters. The Global Environment Facility (GEF) is integral to the progress of the GPSC, and numerous partners such as UN agencies, development banks, and civil society organizations contribute to its success—amongst them the World Resources Institute, ICLEI (Local Governments for Sustainability), and the C40 Cities Climate Leadership group (C40).
What are the aims of the GPSC? Forging a shared vision for urban sustainability is its overarching goal, and this achievement would not be possible without connecting cities.
In more concrete terms, the GPSC aims to be a global knowledge repository on integrated urban planning – both best practices and lessons learned. The newly launched GPSC website, www.thegpsc.org, hosts a collection of datasets, indicators, and analyses on trends in urbanization. This library of information assists cities in identifying the gaps in urban infrastructure and the provision of basic services. The data collected will improve the cities’ capacity to monitor and report the status of their “sustainability,” and to better formulate and implement strategies.
The GPSC’s 2nd annual meeting is organized around the theme of “Better Planning, Better Cities – Smart Solutions to Urban Sustainability,” and this second meeting will focus on using a data-driven approach for planning action. The many scheduled events will follow this approach, including the Mayor’s Roundtable, high-level panel discussions, and in-depth learning events.
The annual meeting will also release the GPSC’s Urban Sustainability Framework, or USF. A basis for cities to assess their urban sustainability status and develop their action plans, the USF outlines what it takes to run a sustainable city. The recipe includes:
- Sustainability Indicators that are benchmarked regionally and globally,
- A Diagnostic Process that utilizes growth-scenario modelling and analysis to enable the prioritization of infrastructure investments, and
- Action plans that integrate sustainability from conception.
The role of financing is key in the USF, as it demonstrates options for cities to obtain a national-scale, investment-grade credit rating. Indeed, a learning session on municipal finance led by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and a session led by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) on urban investment by international financial institutions (IFI)—with the participation of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), World Bank Group (WBG), and Development Bank of South Africa—promise to be another highlight of the annual meeting.
At the meeting, leading examples of smart cities will share their planning strategies and tools to enhance efficiencies in service delivery and boost competitiveness as well as sustainability. Lessons learned from China’s urbanization process will also be highlighted during the meeting, which will be joined by mayors and governors from countries as diverse as Cameroon, Denmark, Mexico, Lebanon, and Japan.
For more insights on how to help your cities become more sustainable and inclusive, look out for news about the events in India and watch this space. We welcome your ideas and input on how to help our expanding cities—the world’s engines of growth—be centers of productivity and creativity, as well as our beloved homes for generations to come.