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Our Call and Commitments to Climate Action and Solutions

Updated: Apr 16, 2021


Climate Change is one of the planet’s greatest challenges. As greenhouse gas levels continue to climb, climate change is occurring much faster than anticipated, and its effect is worldwide. The destruction of ecosystems by climate change threatens to undo decades of development gains. Without transformational action, climate emergencies will become increasingly severe. The impact is being felt disproportionately on vulnerable people and communities living in poverty around the world. Rapid and far-reaching transitions in energy, land, urban systems and infrastructure as well as industrial production are necessary, requiring ambitious and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society. Without urgent climate action, the Sustainable Development Goals and other global agreements including the Paris Agreement, the New Urban Agenda and the Sendai Framework will not be achieved.

We recognize the global climate impact on the urban population. As confirmed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), global warming is likely to reach 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052 with disastrous impacts on cities. IPCC scientists warned that “Every half degree increase in temperature will matter” and cities will be the hardest hit by floods, extreme heat or water stress affecting large populations. CO2 emissions are predominantly city-based. With rapid growth, urban areas are increasingly on the front line. As such, they must be at the heart of climate action.

We acknowledge that the time for urgent climate action has come in every city and community. Each year, climate disasters impact nearly 200 million people. Cities will be affected by declining food supply and loss of their infrastructure investments. The urban poor, those living in informal settlements - currently 1 in 7 of the world’s urban population – are disproportionately affected by climate change, and without interventions the impact on their lives will only worsen. With extreme weather and sea level rise, more homes will increasingly be at risk, endangering almost all aspects of people’s lives, taking a heavy toll on urban infrastructure systems and affecting access to basic services. The increase in the number of urban refugees and internally displaced groups in cities is adding to the complexity of sustainable urban development. Without urgent climate action, many more cities and their communities will be at risk.


We, Partners of the World Urban Campaign, a global coalition of 150 partner organizations including local governments, academia, research, professional organizations, civil society and grassroots organizations, the private sector, children and youth groups, women groups, people with disabilities and older persons, are calling for urgent climate action.

We are reiterating the key principles of The City We Need, prepared globally towards the Habitat III Conference held in 2016, the New Urban Agenda and the Quito Declaration and Implementation Plan. Given the climate emergency, we are calling to action and further emphasizing key principles and drivers of change to The City We Need. These are aligned with the ambition of the Paris Agreement to address the climate change emergency through mitigation and adaptation.

1. The City We Need is net zero emitting by 2050 and limits global warming to 1.5°C by cutting greenhouse gases emissions by 40 to 50 percent before 2030 from 2010 levels. It reduces emissions from transport, energy use and buildings, embraces retrofitting and ensures that new urban construction becomes fossil fuel free. It adopts affordable, robust low-carbon technologies and approaches, with efficient and locally relevant urban design strategies that minimize the carbon footprint of the cities.

2. The City We Need is resilient. The City We Need develops strategies for coping, adapting and transforming with future shocks and stresses to its social, economic, and technical systems and infrastructures so as to maintain the basic structure, functions, systems, and identity. It builds the capacities of local stakeholders, individuals, and communities and governing systems continuously and to assess risks, absorb, recover and learn from acute shocks and chronic stresses both natural and man-made. It addresses the COVID-19 pandemic in conjunction with the climate crisis, adopting ‘green’ recovery plans and measures to help people to adapt and survive to both crises affecting health, wellbeing and livelihoods, particularly for vulnerable populations.

3. The City We Need is regenerative. It restores and replenishes energy, water, food systems, air and ecosystems. It is energy and resource efficient, low-carbon, and increasingly reliant on renewable energy sources. It replenishes the resources it consumes and recycles and reuses waste. It manages water, land, and energy in a coordinated manner and in harmony with its hinterlands. It supports ecosystem restoration and city-regional food systems, including urban and peri-urban food production and community-based agriculture. It is endowed with multifunctional, adaptable infrastructure that supports local biodiversity while providing public space that improves quality of life.

4. The City We Need thrives on nature and culture. It recognizes the capacities and limitations of the natural systems which support it, values biodiversity and ecosystem services for the roles they play in urban health, environmental protection, aesthetics and liveability. It incorporates cultural heritage, indigenous and traditional practices and techniques, as well as community-based solutions, in climate change mitigation and adaptation planning and strategies.

5. The City We Need leaves no one and no place behind. Because climate change is a poverty multiplier, it places the poor and marginalized groups at the heart of climate plans, strategies and actions. The City We Need protects the most at risk by preventing dangerous events where feasible, preparing and protecting them before, during and after the event. It empowers and prepares the communities most at risk and makes them resilient to upcoming disasters.

6. The City We Need has new pathways of sustainable living, valuing preservation and resource optimization. It harnesses effective solutions to ensure that resource extractions are minimized and resources fully reutilized, by improving waste management, generating clean and resource-efficient energy, decarbonizing the electric grid and enabling next-generation mobility. The city we need recognizes traditional mechanisms, enables knowledge and technology transfer, encourages innovations in addressing climate change.

7. The City We Need adopts climate-proof planning, sets emissions reductions targets and strategies to reduce these emissions along with innovative urban design and mobility plans. It uses spatial planning and other decision support systems to support proactive and coordinated cross-cutting urban adaptation and mitigation across urban sectors. It lays emphasis on the preparation of actionable frameworks for better climate proof integrated urban development.

8. The City We Need has collaborative partnerships and mobilizes resources to manage and achieve climate actions and solutions. The City We Need places inclusive climate action at the center of all urban decision-making, to create thriving and equitable communities. It supports locally-led action as one of the transformative strategies and recognizes contributions of all stakeholders and their role as agents of change.


As Partners of the World Urban Campaign, we commit to share the knowledge gathered in 2021 towards the 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), an important milestone for the implementation of the Paris Agreement, as well as to influence key decision-makers at all levels to make climate action a tangible part of our common future.

We call for urgent climate action and invite organizations to join us in recognizing the global climate emergency to help deliver The City We Need.

We call for effective scalable solutions and innovations to address the climate change challenges.

We call upon all organizations to advocate, collaborate, mobilize resources and build capacities of stakeholders to better implement, scale-up and replicate solutions.

We call upon national governments and local authorities to create conducive enabling environments that incentivizes all stakeholders, including the private sector, to play their part. This starts by enacting adequate and effective laws and regulations and facilitating sound climate, informed planning and risk reduction, access to secure tenure, the provision of infrastructure basic services and shelter.

We call on everyone to join and stand together to combat the challenges of climate change to make cities more liveable for all including the most vulnerable.

We urge all to commit to innovative climate actions and solutions under the UN Decade of Action towards creating greener and sustainable cities now and into the future.

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