Cities Summit

Outcome of the Cities Summit


Co-organizers of the Cities Summit:

UN Environment Programme, UN Habitat, United Cities and local governments, ICLEI, the Global Task Force and Cities Alliance

Objectives of the session:

  • Provide an opportunity for high level dialogue by mayors, ministers, private sector leaders and civil society representatives on challenges and innovative solutions to achieve livable and sustainable cities
  • Identify key messages to UNEA-4 on innovation for sustainable consumption and production in cities;
  • Kick start a process to develop partnerships and commitments ready for the SG’s Climate Summit on integrated urban infrastructure.


The way we go about urban development will influence whether we will meet the sustainable development goals. Using the lens of SDGs 11 – sustainable cities, and 12 – sustainable consumption and production, solutions at city level will contribute to most if not all other SDGs.

Three quarters of resource use and greenhouse gas emissions are already in cities, and trends of urbanization, population and economic growth with further drive up these numbers if we don’t get smarter in the way we consume and produce. Many cities face serious air and water pollution, making citizen’s health a key driver for action.

According to the most recent IPCC report, restricting climate change to 1.5°C would need “rapid and far-reaching” changes around energy use, industry and buildings design, as well as the wider planning of cities and infrastructure. According to the International Resource Panel recent publication “Weight of Cities” the integration of urban infrastructure can achieve significantly higher resource savings than taking siloed sectoral approaches; savings are in the order of 30 - 60 percent by leveraging connections, interactions, and resource sharing across multiple urban systems.

The good news is that cities have a long history of inspiring change and citizens, companies and governments coming together to use their innovation power. The summit is a unique opportunity to focus on ways to reduce the ‘weight of cities’, by using our resources more efficiently through urban infrastructure integration and thereby harness climate and societal benefits, including health and jobs.

Background documents that will set the scene for the discussion:

Weight of Cities, IRP

UN Environment Programme – A Case for an integrated approach at the neighbourhood level

View from City Scope – An assessment; Siemens

And possibly also a forthcoming paper by Cities Alliance on SMART Cities


Key focus areas to make innovative integrated solutions a reality:

Policy and planning

Investment Opportunities

Technology Futures

Business Models

Public Procurement

Nature-based solutions

Community participation – from governance to business models to individual choices