Creating a Common Narrative for Financing a Sustainable Urban Future

By Mark Watts, Executive Director of C40, Ani Dasgupta, Global Director of WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, and Brandee McHale, President of the Citi Foundation and Director of Corporate Citizenship at Citi

Good ideas that get cities results are worth replicating. Sounds simple enough. But when it comes to scaling up and investing in sustainable urban solutions, it’s complicated.

With more than 400 cities making commitments to climate action through the Compact of Mayors, the world made significant progress at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP21) last year in Paris. Now that the negotiations are over and the commitments have been made, we face the challenge of financing and implementing sustainable urban projects that will improve the quality of life for residents and turn this collective vision into a reality.

WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, C40 and the Citi Foundation are partnering together to help cities around the world accelerate the implementation of low-carbon urban solutions. By drawing on WRI’s on-the-ground knowledge, C40’s unique network of global city leaders and the Citi Foundation’s agenda for urban economic progress, the Financing Sustainable Cities Initiative is developing new approaches to overcoming what is commonly, but mistakenly, seen as simply a financing gap.

Recent economic research estimates a US$4.1 to 4.3 trillion annual investment gap between the urban infrastructure we have and the amount we need. According to the traditional narrative, there is simply insufficient supply and financial appetite for sustainable urban projects. However, the situation is much more complex. Demand for sustainable solutions is growing, and investor appetite for new markets and non-traditional assets is increasing as well. So why is funding for sustainable urban projects often stuck at an impasse?

What really seems to be happening here is that these two sides are talking past each —> Read More

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