The speed and scale of urbanization imposes various challenges on cities, including meeting the rising demand for basic services and infrastructure. At the same time, urban areas are major contributors to climate emissions, whilst being increasingly exposed to climate and disaster risk.
For the last five years, the International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the German Federal Government supported the project “Urban Pathways - Supporting Low Carbon Plans for Urban Basic Services in the context of the New Urban Agenda”, coordinated by UN-Habitat and implemented in collaboration with the Wuppertal Institute and the UN Environment Programme, among other partners.
The Urban Pathways project is working with countries and cities that were highly motivated, and that had a supportive policy environment. The project contributed to reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions by focusing on integrated implementation programmes in the area of mobility, waste management and energy as well as sector coupling. With support of Urban Pathways, a total of 14 pilot projects in 10 cities have been prepared and implemented ranging from a pedestrian zone, a mobility startup acceleration hub and energy efficient tiny house in Nairobi (Kenya); Ecozones in Belo Horizonte (Brazil); to electric mobility systems in cities such as Kochi (India), Hanoi (Vietnam) and Quito (Ecuador).
Positive impacts of these initiatives are illustrated by improvements on walkability, lower levels of emissions and pollution, enhanced road safety, increase in business opportunities, among others. For instance, Nairobi’s pedestrian zone “Luthuli Avenue” led to an increase of 29% of pedestrians with a particular increase of women and elderly – two societal groups that are now comfortably using the space due to improved accessibility, safety and comfort. In a survey conducted by partners, a total of 83.3 percent of the respondents in Nairobi stated that they were in favour of the intervention. Many business stakeholders also commented very positively, reporting business improvements of between 41 – 80 percent.
These pilot projects were developed in multi-stakeholder partnerships, so called “living labs”, that provided platforms for collaboration between all the stakeholders, government officials, civil society, academia and private sector to co-develop solutions for climate actions in a highly participatory manner.
This approach culminated in the launch of the Urban Living Lab Center in May 2022 that emphasizes the role of cities as testbeds for innovation and that supports cities through capacity building, policy advice, pilot project implementation as well as with the development of bankable projects to scale up the tested solutions.
From 8-9 November 2022, the held the final workshop in Berlin, with more than 30 participants from German Ministries, City Governments, Civil Society, Research Institutions and Development Partners.
“The important role of cities as the place for action for climate change has been emphasized during the High Level Meeting on the implementation of the New Urban Agenda in New York earlier this year” explained Andre Dzikus, Chief, Urban Basic Services Section, UN-Habitat, during his opening remarks.
Ms. Christine Krueger, Head of Section, Urban Development, Infrastructure and Mobility at the Zukunft – Umwelt – Gesellschaft (ZUG) gGmbH, International Climate Initiative, said, “Cities have to be at the forefront of combating the climate emergency. It is against this background that the Urban Pathways Project could have not been more timely as it delivered on the combined aims and ambitions of the global agendas including the Paris Climate Agreement and the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.”
Verena Ommer, Policy Officer at the International Climate Initiative (IKI), noted, “Cities form an important platform to address climate change challenges across the sectors. They often show excellent examples of cross-sectoral cooperation ranging from transport, public green spaces, to energy and water management in residential and industrial buildings.”
The Urban Pathways project shows how international collaboration can play a key role in supporting cities with the development of local climate action plans through multi-stakeholder processes, that result in viable pilot projects with scale up potential in the future. While the project comes to an end, a seed was planted with concrete scale-up plans in many of the cities that already committed to additional urban infrastructure investments. In Belo Horizonte, five additional Ecozones are in the planning; and Nairobi continues to roll out pedestrian walkways and cycle paths across the city while also preparing for the Nairobi River Regeneration Initiative aiming to reclaim Nairobi River as a shared public good that supports a better urban and environmental performance for a better quality of life in the city.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of UN Habitat.