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70th session of the Committee on Housing and Land Management and side event on Climate Neutral Cities

23 - 25 September 2009

Despite various initiatives to address climate change, few focus on buildings and cities, and fewer still consider that town planning and land use zoning need to be integrated into climate change action plans. Indeed, it is not only the technological characteristics of buildings that contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gases (GHGs), but also the spatial and density attributes of communities and cities. Realizing the need to adopt a broader approach to combat climate change, the Committee on Housing and Land Management decided to initiate discussion of how better urban planning and efficient-energy can reduce GHG emissions in urban areas by organizing a seminar on “Climate Neutral Cities”.


As of now, climate neutral cities may sound more like an oxymoron than an achievable goal. Yet several cities have taken measures to reduce GHG emissions, and mechanisms are being identified at the urban scale to offset currently unavoidable emissions.

Climate neutrality is not simply a goal in the fight against climate change, however. It is a means to address some of the major environmental, economic and social challenges comprising the broader sustainability agenda of urban areas. Climate neutrality also affords individual benefits, such as reduced costs, increased standards of living and improved health.

Thus, climate neutrality in cities should be seen as strategic goal, one that can trigger progress in several areas, both for the community as a whole and for individuals.

Guest speakers will examine the multidimensional approach of “Climate Neutral Cities”. These will include policymakers and authorities from various cities, who will present relevant policies as well as the challenges to governance posed by this concept. Experts from the public and private sectors will address the technical hurdles and provide practical solutions for reducing urban GHG emissions (including land-use and transport planning, infrastructure, energy efficiency and overall building performance).

Session I: City Planning and Land-Use Management
This session will discuss the approach of cities to sustainable land management and the mitigation of climate change, covering the following aspects:

  • Policy and plans for the energy efficiency at the urban scale
  • Measures to control urban sprawl and its negative impacts on urban environments
  • Measures to reduce unsustainable uses of land, including the formation of informal settlements
  • Programmes and measures to counteract the impact of urban sprawl in rural areas
  • Development and use of green spaces and biodiversity in urban areas to mitigate climate change
  • Planning for sustainable infrastructures, urban mobility and transport systems

Session II: The Built Environment
This session will focus on green building and the reduction of emissions in buildings, including:

  • Energy efficiency in housing
  • Sustainable refurbishment
  • Ecological architecture
  • Passive housing

For full program, please click here.

To register click here.

To view the background paper click here.

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