Blog
21/01/2013

Going Green. How cities are leading the next economy.

How cities are leading the next economy. A global survey of city governments on the green economy (Conclusions). ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability and LSECities – London School of Economics.

Bus Station                                                    Bus Station (Valencia, Spain)

Conclusion and implications for policy.

“This survey of city governments suggests that cities have started to embrace the transition towards a green economy. Cities show a strong willingness to foster the green agenda, and green aspirations exist in cities across a range of different economic and geographic contexts. However, the triggers for ‘going green’ differ signicantly. For cities in high-income countries, green policies have been pushed by public awareness and a change in local political leadership, while urban greening efforts in middle- and low-income countries tend to have been led more by national governments. For developing and delivering a green economy, it is encouraging that almost all cities identify strong synergies between economic and environmental goals.

Nevertheless, the survey also shows that environmental conditions across many cities present major problems and constitute some of the most important overall challenges facing city governments. For cities across income groups, transport and associated problems including air pollution and urban sprawl emerge as major challenges.

While many cities in high-income countries have successfully achieved good outcomes in reducing solid waste and water pollution, resolving air pollution problems seems more problematic.

In tackling environmental problems, cities are seeing the opportunity for considerable economic co-benefits. Cities identify the greatest potential for green economy initiatives in the transport, energy and building sectors, where clear economic benefits from energy cost savings are often most obvious. Cities that define themselves as ‘green’ seem to be more advanced in improving energy security and protecting biodiversity and ecosystems, and this may be partially explained by their better skills and capabilities in natural resource management. Across many cities in middle- and low-income countries, environmental problems associated with inadequate infrastructure and basic service provision oer ‘low-hanging fruit’, demanding swift political action and financial investment. Providing good drinking water, sanitation and solid waste services should be a priority for cities across the world, as development of this basic urban infrastructure guarantees enormous economic and social co-benefits.

While cities are confident about the idea of simultaneous economic and environmental benefits from green policies, economic impact assessments of these policies are rare. This presents a major gap, and city governments can strengthen their case for green transformation by having good evidence for the broad range of benefits that green policies can deliver. Cities’ positive response towards funding cutting-edge projects indicates that many are willing to be first-movers and accept some degree of risk in fostering green innovation. At the same time, lack of support from national governments is one of the most often cited barriers to achieving green objectives, and the survey results suggest that this could be an important area for greater alignment and eective collaboration between multiple levels of governance. “

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