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Green Cities Declaration: 21-Step Plan Toward Urban Sustainability


Capping the five-day UN World Environment conference in San Francisco, more than 50 mayors from around the world signed the Green Cities Declaration, a set of urban environmental action accords designed to build sustainable urban centers.

The accords call for 21 actions covering transportation, energy, waste reduction, urban design, urban nature, environmental health, and water improvement programs to be implemented by mayors and delegates from major cities around the world.

The accords call for three actions specific to the theme of transportation:

  • Action 13. Develop and implement a policy which expands affordable public transportation coverage to within half-a-kilometer of all city residents in ten years.

  • Action 14. Pass a law or implement a program that eliminates leaded gasoline (where it is still used); phases down sulfur levels in diesel and gasoline fuels, concurrent with using advanced emission controls on all buses, taxis, and public fleets to reduce particulate matter and smog-forming emissions from those fleets by fifty percent in seven years.

  • Action 15. Implement a policy to reduce the percentage of commute trips by single occupancy vehicles by ten percent in seven years.

The action steps as a rule are not technology-specific. Rather, they set targets (“increase the use of renewable energy to meet ten percent of the city’s peak electric load within seven years”), and benchmarks for the number of actions to take, leaving implementation up to each city.

Implementing the Urban Environmental Accords will require an open, transparent, and participatory dialogue between government, community groups, businesses, academic institutions, and other key partners. Accords implementation will benefit where decisions are made on the basis of a careful assessment of available alternatives using the best available science.

The call to action set forth in the Accords will most often result in cost savings as a result of diminished resource consumption and improvements in the health and general well-being of city residents. Implementation of the Accords can leverage each city’s purchasing power to promote and even require responsible environmental, labor and human rights practices from vendors.

Between now and the World Environment Day 2012, cities shall work to implement as many of the 21 Actions as possible. The ability of cities to enact local environmental laws and policies differs greatly. However, the success of the Accords will ultimately be judged on the basis of actions taken.

There is a Green-Star rating system that will recognize cities for the number of actions implemented at then end of those seven years.


  • The San Francisco Urban Environmental Accords

  • Green Cities Declaration Wiki. A Wiki is a group-edited site. The Wiki software allows users to freely create and edit Web page content using any Web browser. Wiki supports hyperlinks and has a simple text syntax for creating new pages and crosslinks between internal pages on the fly. In other words, it’s the community-interactive version of the accords.



Hey, I'm all for it. But, it just ain't happening. There's no groundswell of support from the city citizens. There's no accountability if the mayors can't pull it off. There isn't necessarily a strong buy in from city councils. And, all the while, they're fighting NIMBYism and insufficient funds.

I hope I'm wrong -- somebody, please make me wrong.


Don't let the nay sayers get you down. This is a great first step. I am very interested in finding out more about the programs that are already in place.

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