Sustainable Urban Development

Cities already provide homes for more than half of all the people on our planet. Experts estimate that 70% of the world’s population will be living in urban areas by 2050. This push towards urbanisation will mainly take place in conurbations of emerging and developing countries. Although life in cities is more resource-efficient than in rural areas, cities are responsible for more than two thirds of global, climate-impacting greenhouse gas emissions. Infrastructure and building projects are sealing land and threatening biodiversity. At the same time, cities are also particularly affected by the impacts of climate change, such as water scarcity, heat waves, rising sea levels, floods and hurricanes. The growing importance of cities (as habitats for humans) and their contributions to the achievement of national climate and biodiversity protection goals underline how vital relevant strategies, the implementation of measures for climate change and adaptation for sustainable urban development really are.

Quito, Ecuador. Foto: Oliver Hölcke

The key role of cities as players in climate change was formally recognised for the first time at the climate negotiations in Paris. At the third UN summit on housing and sustainable urban development – the ‘Habitat III’ conference in Quito in October 2016 – the ‘New Urban Agenda’ also anchored global objectives and orientations for sustainable urban development. The member states of the United Nations have also pledged to involve cities more intensively in their policies and activities and to improve the framework conditions for the realisation of sustainable and integrated urban development.

Since 2015, the topic of ‘sustainable urban development’ has been a cross-sectoral funding priority for the IKI. Fields of action pertain to energy, water and mobility on the one hand, and quality of life linked to functioning ecosystems and their services on the other. This calls for integrated sustainable approaches to the development of urban areas. The ICI projects support the partner countries to help them develop strategies for climate change, adapt to the effects of climate change in cities and shape the local economic structure in a sustainable and low-emission manner. Capacity building in the partner countries takes place at national and local levels by means of knowledge transfer, technology cooperation, policy advice and investments. The digital transformation of cities linked to Smart City approaches is a focal point of the projects for the promotion of mitigation, while adaptation projects are oriented on more climate-resilient urban development. In the field of biodiversity, for example, key topics are the preservation of ecosystem services and the promotion of local recreation.

Selected Projects:

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