Making Cities Grow Green
What is ‘Green Growth’?
Cities now consume 75 percent of the world’s energy (and in them buildings consume the most energy – up to 40 percent) and emit 80 percent of the world’s green house gases. Cities are presently growing globally at 2 percent per year, while rural areas have leveled out and in many cases are declining. It is estimated that by 2030 the number of city dwellers will reach five billion, or 60 percent, of the world’s population. Is ‘Green Growth’ a response to address these challenges?
‘Green Growth’, a highly debated concept that has been defined as ‘fostering economic growth and development, while ensuring that natural assets continue to provide the resources and environmental services on which our well-being relies” (OECD, 2011), has emerged as a possible response to address these challenges. Could green growth be a new development paradigm capable of achieving economic and environmental objectives simultaneously?
Green Growth in an urban context
As key engines of economic growth, job creation and innovation, but also as major contributors to global warming and environmental problems, cities are at the heart of the transition to a green global economy. Because the well-being of cities will be intimately tied to promoting environmental and social inclusion through economically stimulating activities, cities will be central to advancing green growth.
Although the term green growth has yet to be adopted widely by local governments, cities across the globe are already pursuing greener futures by incorporating environmental objectives into their economic strategies. A key question is how cities across the globe can pursue ‘greener’ strategies with a point of departure on the particular challenges they are faced with, the local material and socio-cultural resources that are available to them, and the specific potentials they have to promote prosperity and quality of life?
Questions that will be raised within this program include:
- How can green growth be defined in an urban context?
- What can we learn from best practice?
- Which potential green growth scenarios can be identified for cities and human settlements, and among them, which ones generate the most desirable outcomes?
- Which types of policy instruments and programme activities tend to be most successful in delivering green growth in cities?
- What governance approach is needed for green growth policies to succeed?
- What institutional, regulatory and financing resource barriers inhibit the implementation of green growth strategies?
- How to engage the private sector in partnerships to develop sustainable solutions?
- What are the possibilities of making retrofitting a driver for green growth?
- Is retrofitting a luxury that only wealthy cities can afford?