In today’s article, we’re going to introduce you to C40 Cities, in case you haven’t heard of them. It is a global network of mayors taking action to confront the climate crisis and create a future where everyone can thrive.
In September 2022, C40 announced that it is joining forces with urban investor NREP to launch the Green and Thriving Neighbourhoods programme and support “interdisciplinary approaches that make urban areas more sustainable, equitable and liveable.” Specifically, the parties will work on delivering proof of concept for “15-minute city” policies and on implementing neighbourhood pilot projects in at least five cities. Also, they aim to create an international network of practitioners to advise cities.
Other partners included in this project are UN-Habitat and the Pantheon-Sorbonne University’s Carlos Moreno.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), compact and resource-efficient cities, with co-location of residences and jobs, mixed land use and good access to public transportation, can help cut urban emissions by around 25%
“The 15-minute city helps to realize an ‘ecological society’ that urban residents and their leaders strive for. By promoting polycentric urban development and a thriving local lifestyle in every neighbourhood, it can help cities to reduce emissions and pollution from cars while improving quality of life,” C40 Executive Director Mark Watts said at the time of the project announcement. “This new programme will empower cities to implement the concept on the ground, and to deliver ‘green and thriving neighbourhods’ pilot projects.”
On a similar note, NREP CEO and Partner Claus Mathisen said: “As much as 60-70% of the world’s CO2 emissions come from cities, so the quest for greener urban solutions is urgent. This partnership is an opportunity to shape what a sustainable and equitable city is and to create a blueprint for urban development that will help not only cities to drive ambitious urban policies but also business and other stakeholders to engage and adapt their operational models.”
And so did Carlos Moreno, Director of Pantheon-Sorbonne University’s ETI Lab: “The 15-minute city framework can help cities to increase sustainability, inclusion and economic equity. The framework can contribute to the deep decarbonisation of cities, and it can be adapted to a variety of contexts.”
The vast majority of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions come from cities, and especially their built environment and transport systems. As urban populations continue growing, it is urgent to harness a model of low-carbon urban development that is human-scale and thriving.
On the other hand, at the heart of the city lies an opportunity – as urban density can create a greener way of living and a better quality of life through more efficient infrastructure and improved urban planning.
IPCC has stressed the importance of integrated spatial planning, and highlighted the concept of the 15-minute city in which urban life is organized so that people can access all the services they need within their immediate vicinity, and where it’s easy to walk or bike to work and stores.
The COVID-19 pandemic has galvanized discussions about the city as a system that enables residents to live more locally and sustainably. It increases the opportunity for multiple “complete neighbourhoods” that cut emissions and improve quality of life in an integrated way.
In this context, neighbourhoods provide a new focus to respond to the urgency of the global climate agenda. The neighbourhood provides an ideal scale for equitable and sustainable recovery and an opportunity to develop replicable, people-centered and net-zero approaches that can be deployed city-wide and beyond.
Also, neighbourhoods are sufficiently large to aggregate the interrelated elements that compose a city, yet small enough for tangible changes to be achieved in a relatively short period. Acting as “innovation labs,” neighbourhood projects can pioneer new policy, trial innovative partnership arrangements, consider creative ways to increase resident participation and test new technologies or solutions.
NREP adds know-how and experience from some of the world’s most sustainable large-scale development projects, including Copenhagen’s UN17 Village and Nordhavn, which has been designed around the principles of the 15-minute city. The partnership between C40 and NREP will empower cities around the world to implement ambitious net-zero “15-minute city” neighbourhoods. It will develop integrated climate actions at the neighbourhood scale that can be applied in both new and existing neighbourhoods.
The parties included in this effort include the global network of mayors C40 Cities, urban investor NREP, UN-Habitat, and the Pantheon-Sorbonne University's Carlos Moreno.
It is estimated that compact and resource-efficient cities, with co-location of residences and jobs, mixed land use, and good access to public transportation, can help cut urban emissions by around 25%.
Mayors and their staff should explore the option of joining C40 or, at the very least, keep up with what they're doing in order to pick up the best practices and implement them in their municipalities. These guys and gals have been experimenting with various technologies and approaches, and you get to benefit from their experiences as opposed to learning from your own mistakes. Not every intervention requires a ton of money, so it's worth checking out.
If your company is in the construction or related business, perhaps you should consider how you could help implement different solutions to make modern 15-minute neighborhoods. For many municipalities, this would require major changes and that could translate to major opportunities for businesses like yours. With little knowledge of the matter, you can get an upper hand and score deals with more cities.