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Nations Pledge, Cities Deliver - 364 Cities and Organisations Sign Open Letter on Urban Priorities to Address Climate Crisis at Cop26

  • Smart City Sustainability Charter Details 10 guiding principles that must be reflected in Cop26 final agreement
  • Cities consume 78 per cent of the world's energy and produce more than 60 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions
  • Signatory cities and organisations include Amsterdam, Philadelphia, São Paulo, Stuttgart, Connected Places Catapult, Signify, Resilient Cities Network, WeGO, and Leading Cities

London, UK Monday 27th September 2021 – The SmartCitiesWorld Advisory Board today announced that more than 350 cities and organisations have now signed the Smart City Sustainability Charter, an open letter calling upon Governments at Cop26 to adhere to 10 guiding principles in their final agreement. While covering only 3 percent of earth’s surface, cities consume 78 per cent of the world’s energy and produce more than 60 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions – making city leadership critical stakeholders in the future effective management of the climate crisis.

The Charter has been signed by cities and organisations from around the world, with signatories including the Cities of Amsterdam, Edmonton, Johannesburg, Lisbon, Philadelphia, Quebec, São Paulo, and Stuttgart, as well as international organisations such as Signify, Resilient Cities Network, WeGO (the World Smart Sustainable Cities Organization), and Leading Cities.

The Charter outlines ten principles for cities:

  • INCLUSION: Including all citizens in decision making drives the best results. The hallmarks of good city governance are participation, transparency, accountability, and open data.
  • DIVERSITY: Encouraging diversity is a key principle in fostering city-scale resilience and sustainability.
  • RESILIENCE: Cities with a resilience strategy are better equipped to protect their citizens and environment from the worst effects of climate change.
  • WELLBEING: City strategies measured by wellbeing indices deliver better long-term outcomes than cities driven by economic measure alone.
  • GREEN SPACES: The cities that create and preserve green spaces for native trees and flora create bigger long-term resilience, wellbeing, and prosperity for their citizens and the biosphere.
  • NATIONAL-LEVEL SUPPORT: Cities committing to net-zero targets and a ‘just transition’ should be actively encouraged and supported by national government programmes to help nations achieve their ambitions.
  • INFRASTRUCTURE: The best cities give citizens access to infrastructure that provides physical safety, clean sanitation, waste disposal, clean air, a renewable energy supply, digital connectivity.
  • SYSTEMS THINKING: Nations that equip leaders with systems thinking, including the ability to build on system synergies and circular economy principles, are most likely to meet their challenging net zero targets.
  • DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY: Cities using secure digital technology to measure and manage activity across city-systems are more able to bring about effective local change then those without the data.
  • HEALTHY TRANSPORT: Prioritising active transport, then public transport, then private transport is the way to go.

Paul Wilson, Chair of the SmartCitiesWorld Advisory Board, said: “Ahead of the Cop26 meeting in Glasgow next month it is vital to highlight the critical role cities will play in helping to solve the climate crisis and to mitigate its effects in the most densely populated areas. Time and again, we have seen governments make pledges on behalf of states, yet it falls to cities to deliver on these pledges. Cities account for 55% of the world’s population today, growing to 68% in by 2050. The principles we have proposed today alongside our city partners will help us all in the move towards net zero carbon emissions, while also immeasurably improving lives around the world.”

Michael Lake, CEO of Leading Cities, said: “Nations are failing to meet the goals they have set for themselves to combat climate change. Climate change cannot be effectively addressed without the world’s cities. With more than half of the world’s population residing in cities, municipal leaders are responsible for ensuring their constituents are able to live long and healthy lives. The principles contained within our open letter can provide the resilient and equitable foundation that our urban centres must build on to achieve urgent climate action goals. Cities will need the full backing of central governments to complete the urgent objectives the world is depending on.”

Lauren Sorkin, Executive Director of the Resilient Cities Network, said: “City leadership is mission-critical to advancing solutions to the climate crisis. It’s cities who are on the front lines of delivering the results necessary to meet net-zero targets and, critically, to build up the equitable and adaptive systems so city dwellers can thrive, no matter what shock or stress they face. We already know how to get this done. Cities with appointed Chief Resilience Officers are in an optimal position to advance the systemic action necessary to build urban resilience.”

For more information about the Smart City Sustainability Charter and its signatories, please visit


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