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Reducing cities' environmental footprint

UNECE’s Environmental Performance Reviews help countries adopt concrete measures to improve environmental sustainability across all sectors. Examples of city-level recommendations include:

  • Strengthening separate waste collection of recyclable materials in Belarus.
  • Improving the calculation of Mongolia’s Air Quality Index (especially important for the 1.44 million inhabitants of Ulaanbaatar).
  • Introducing incentives to tackle the issue of polluting second-hand cars in Albania.

Trees in urban areas can cool the air by up to 8°C, reducing air conditioning needs by 30%.  Urban trees are also excellent air filters, removing harmful pollutants and fine particulates. UNECE promotes urban forestry, land restoration and the development of “green belts”, such as the one in Nur-Sultan (Kazakhstan) which is expected to reach 100,000 hectares by 2020, benefiting the climate, biodiversity and quality of life.

The UNECE Protocol on Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) ensures that environmental and health aspects are considered in all plans and programmes of central and local governments. Through an EU-funded project, the SEA process has helped the city of Orhei (Republic of Moldova) to prioritize investment in the expansion of water and sanitation systems and the modernization of waste management and road infrastructure.

City-level commitments made under the Batumi Initiative on Green Economy (BIG-E), supported by UNECE, include:

  • Over USD 35 million of co-financing for energy efficient street lighting systems in Poland. Today, lighting alone consumes 19% of the world’s total electricity.
  • Zero emissions and renewable fuel for all public transport buses in the Netherlands by 2025.
  • 2,800 multi-apartment buildings modernized in Lithuania, saving 650 GWh/year of heat energy and improving living standards for 60,000 households.