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Digital Transformation 2022

Proving why sustainable cities are smart cities

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Maia Kutner

Global Director, Cities, States and Regions, CDP

The world’s cities find themselves on the front line in the fight against issues surrounding the climate crisis.

2022 has shown the devastating impact the climate crisis wreaks on people and our planet — from the deadliest floods in Pakistan’s history to the worst drought across Europe in five centuries.

City threats

Despite taking up just 3% of the earth’s land surface, cities are home to more than half the world’s population (55%) and responsible for the majority (70%) of the globe’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Moreover, four in five cities tell us they are already facing climate hazards — from droughts to floods — and for almost one in three cities, these hazards threaten at least 70% of their population. It is clear, therefore, that cities are the central piece of the puzzle in any effort to meaningfully tackle the earth’s rising temperature and the myriad issues that come with it.

For cities to take tangible and effective climate action, people need to be placed at the heart of it.

Inclusive benefits

For cities to take tangible and effective climate action, people need to be placed at the heart of it. For example, cities could have an adaptation goal or target that addresses key issues such as energy, poverty, water and food or consult civil society in climate action planning and develop plans with a collaborative approach.

Our latest analysis shows that cities that put people, especially vulnerable groups, at the centre of decisions on climate action — from assessment to implementation — not only make progress on the road to keeping the world’s temperature below 1.5°C but they unlock a host of other benefits, from better public health and more jobs to deeper social inclusion. These benefits make cities healthier, happier and more inclusive places to live, work and invest in.

However, change cannot happen in silos, and cities need to identify who to work closely with — such as their national governments and the private sector — to drive support for and investment in next-level climate action.

Holistic approach

At CDP, our data shows us the value of collaboration and the benefits that come from working with actors across cities, states, regions, governments and businesses. Three-quarters (75%) of cities tell us they are working with the private sector, and technology is a key area of that partnership. By working together — from implementing renewable energy technologies to decarbonise cities to driving innovation in new, smart and sustainable technologies — cities and the private sector can develop solutions to mitigate and adapt to the climate crisis.

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