Report Explores Options for Cities to Address Climate Change

From the use of horse-drawn carriages to solve public transport shortage in Bayamo, Cuba, to an emissions trading scheme in Taiyuan, China, cities around the world are taking steps to address climate change.

The report "Liveable Cities: The Benefits of Urban Environmental Planning," published by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Cities Alliance and ICLEI (International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives) -Local Governments for Sustainability, showcases 12 examples of cities around the world. The document explores various options for sustainable urban development ranging from practical tools and comprehensive policies to innovative market mechanisms.

"The report contains many 'take home' messages -- environmental management can boost city budgets, prove a strong marketing tool for attracting investors and contribute to public health and poverty eradication," said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner at the Dec. 11 launch of the report at the United Nations Climate Conference in Bali, Indonesia.

The report makes a strong case for the environment as the key asset for cities, officials said. For example, a 2006 survey of professionals working in Hong Kong revealed that almost four out of five professionals were thinking of leaving or new others who have already left because of the quality of the natural environment, while 94 percent ranked it as the top factor in selecting a place to live.

"Cities today have to be competitive. They operate in a global marketplace, competing with other cities and urban settlements around the world for investment. A city cannot compete, however, if it cannot offer investors security, infrastructure and efficiency. Hardly any city can offer these elements without incorporating environmental issues into its planning and management strategies," said Cities Alliance Manager William Cobbett.

The report can be accessed in PDF format at http://www.unep.org/urban_environment/PDFs/LiveableCities.pdf.

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