• Lead-organizer: Asian Development Bank (ADB)
  • 11:00 - 12:30
  • Date: 20 Jun 2012
  • Room: T-8

The Urban Games: A Competition to Promote Green Cities

Organizing partners

Asian Development Bank


This side event will feature a interactive competition on urban environmental issues. The host of these ?The Urban Games? will provide a series of challenging questions to the 6-8 participating mayors and governors. Throughout the ?contest,? the competitors will share their experience and in-depth knowledge on how they are promoting environmentally-sustainable urban development in their cities. The discussion will showcase how local decision makers in the developing world can harness existing knowledge, financial resources and technologies to develop ?green cities.? The main target audience is various stakeholders (e.g. policymakers at the national and local levels, staff of donor agencies, NGOs) that support the formulation and implementation of sustainable urban policies, programs and projects.

Detailed programme

If urban areas in the developing world continue to grow unsustainably, their environmental impact could be catastrophic. Cities occupy only 2% of the world?s land but consume 75% of the planet?s resources and generate a similar percentage of waste, including air pollution, solid waste, and toxic effluents. Activities within cities, as well as activities in rural areas to service cities, generate about 75% of economic product and produce nearly 80% of greenhouse gases (GHGs). Urban expansion and the associated destruction of forests and vegetation also have a strong effect on the climate.

Future cities will have to be significantly more environmentally friendly if they are to become more sustainable. Cities can, and should, become better places for everyone to live, with more green spaces and less air and water pollution. The global environment must also be protected by encouraging lower emissions of GHGs.

?Green cities? are those in which actions are taken to improve the environment in a deliberate and comprehensive way, with significant impacts felt not only within city boundaries, but also on a regional and even global scale. Achieving this vision will require maintaining economic growth and improving living standards, while addressing environmental sustainability, climate change, and environmental damage resulting from urban production, consumption, and waste generation.

This side event will highlight the importance of green cities by featuring mayors and governors from around the world who are taking action to make their cities more environmentally sustainable. Through a competition dubbed the ?Urban Games,? the contestants will engage in a friendly competition and discussion to raise the awareness of participating persons and organizations on the important role of green cities in realizing a green economy, the type of urban investments required to make urban development more environmentally sustainable, and various measures that cities must take to become greener, including options for financing different types of investments.

The Games will be broken up into three sections, with each section featuring a number of questions provided by the Host that will provoke a discussion among the contestants.

Part 1: Cities and the Green Economy. This part will stress the important role of cities in determining the economic, social, and environmental sustainability of a country and region, and even on a global level. It will further stress the opportunities that exist for cities to take a lead role in greening of economies, as incubators of innovation. While stressing that there is no ?one-size-fits-all? model, this part will also provide an overview of some common issues (e.g. spatial structure, transport, housing, urban services, and technological changes) that must be taken into account in developing green cities.

Part 2: Green City Investments. This part will introduce six key elements of green city investments, as follows:
? Low-Carbon Transport ? providing efficient public transport, encouraging zero-emission vehicles and bicycles, and limiting the use of private cars in city centers;
? Infrastructure for Green Industry ? making industrial processes more energy and resource efficient, turning waste or byproducts from one enterprise into the resource or input for another;
? Energy-Efficient Buildings ? promoting less energy use (e.g. through using insulation and adopting existing eco-friendly devices and practices) to make buildings largely self-sufficient;
? City Greening ? creating compact ?cool? communities with natural amenities (e.g. parks, green roofs, water bodies) that offer alternatives to urban sprawl and its consequences;
? Green, Resilient Infrastructure ? introducing technical innovations in infrastructure (e.g. smart grids, distributed power, energy-savings lights, automatic switching for street lighting) and improving management and operation; and
? Intelligent Systems ? using information and communication technologies as the backbone of a green city in order to improve information and service delivery and provide synergies among the above investments.

Part 3: Financing Sustainable Cities. The last part will cover how cities can finance sustainable services through a mix of different elements, including maximizing existing revenue sources and locating potential new ones, leveraging additional resources from the private sector, and accessing international and local funding to support the development of green investments.

To offer a potential contribution to the outcome of Rio+20, the event will also promote the idea of a South-South Sustainable Cities (S3C) Forum. Such a Forum could help foster dialogue among public and private sponsors of environmental infrastructure projects and project financiers. The focus would be on sharing best practice in project development, project structuring and financing, and bringing together project sponsors and financiers, all in the context of greater south-south collaboration.

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