The UNECE region is a major player in international climate and energy policies. While the UNECE region counts less than 20 per cent of the world’s population, it is responsible for 40 per cent of greenhouse (GHG) emissions.
Cities account for 60 – 80 per cent of global GHG emissions. With 73 per cent of the UNECE population living in urban areas, policies aimed at reducing energy consumption and GHG emissions need to become a centre of attention for policy makers also in the UNECE region. One of the key measures to reduce GHG in cities is spatial planning; it is at the heart of adaptation and mitigation measures towards climate neutrality.
These issues will be discussed today in Paris at the workshop Compact City: A Model for Sustainable Urban Development and Green Growth jointly organized by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), the World Bank and Institut d'Aménagement et d'Urbanisme de la Région d'Île-de-France. Participants will discuss their joint visions and approaches to promoting sustainable urban development through better spatial planning and coordination of actions of different levels of authorities and stakeholders. Key-note speakers at the workshop include representatives of the City of Amsterdam and the city of Paris; Oxford and Cambridge Universities and the Korea Research Institute for Human Settlements.
UNECE will present its newly published report Climate Neutral Cities - How to make cities less energy and carbon intensive and more resilient to climatic challenges. This report addresses relevant thematic challenges and proposes action for five priority sectors. First, in a climate neutral city, energy is supplied from low-carbon sources and, as much as possible, renewable sources, waste and combined heat and power. Second in a climate neutral city, buildings are retrofitted to become as energy-efficient, healthy and environmentally-friendly as possible; new buildings are required to be built to ‘net-zero’ or ‘plus-energy’ standards. Third, a climate neutral city represents an integrated mix of living, working, shopping, entertainment, recreation and green areas. The urban space has a comprehensive network of bicycle routes and bicycle facilities. Last but not least, in a climate neutral city, policies are implemented to minimize waste and to promote recycling. In conclusion, the study provides with a city roadmap to climate neutrality.
Today’s discussions in Paris mark the start of a systematic cooperation between UNECE, OECD and other international organizations on the issues of sustainable urban development. The next workshop on sustainable urban development is planned for November 2012 in Geneva.