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Caterpillar Foundation awards $12.5M grant to World Resources Institute (WRI) for sustainable cities initiative; focus on key urban centers in China, India and Brazil

The Caterpillar Foundation is awarding a $12.5 million grant to the World Resources Institute (WRI) to advance the progress of environmentally sustainable and livable cities in China, India, and Brazil.

WRI intends to develop low-carbon city models and pathways for environmentally sustainable urbanization (ESU), and to promote the diffusion of environmentally smart and livable cities. WRI will partner with up to five urban centers to demonstrate how they can use “avoid, shift and improve” strategies to increase energy efficiency, curb greenhouse gas emissions, and improve water quality, urban mobility and land use.

WRI will create “blueprints”—low-carbon plans for environmentally sustainable and livable cities—to catalyze and help implement large-scale, high-impact demonstration projects. WRI will then conduct a targeted outreach effort to disseminate lessons learned to other growing cities to help them scale up and adapt key elements to their own conditions.

Cities are incubators of innovation and are rapidly becoming the focal point for sustainable development in many countries. In the 21st century, people in urban areas will lead the pathways toward more renewable energy, improved mobility, and greater economic security. We are grateful to Caterpillar for their support to significantly expand our ability to develop sound solutions and achieve these goals.

The ESU initiative will have three main phases:

  • Blueprints for Environmentally Smarter Growth: Blueprints will identify key steps toward addressing climate, water, land use and mobility challenges in ways that a) maximize economic efficiency and social benefits; b) minimize sprawl and environmental damage; and c) position the city to become a national and international model for sustainability.

  • Demonstration Projects: Moving from blueprints to action, WRI will catalyze large, high-profile and integrated projects that address more than one goal. Demonstration projects may include enabling a city to meet its carbon emissions-reduction targets; integrating development, transportation and pollution-reduction; and/or improving water quality and quantity.

  • Spreading Success to other Emerging Cities: WRI and its partners will pursue aggressive and targeted communications efforts to highlight the benefits of following new, smarter paths to urban growth among decision-makers in dozens of countries.

Creating environmentally smart cities will demonstrate what is possible and practical. With our partners, WRI aims to better equip leaders of growing cities with the training and tools to translate multiple concerns into coherent solutions and cost-effective action.

—Professor Zou Ji, China Country Director for WRI

China, India, and Brazil are among the world’s most rapidly urbanizing nations. In China, some experts predict that by 2030 more than 70% of its people will live in cities, and that 221 cities will have at least one million residents. In India and Brazil, urban growth is explosive. Rapid urbanization poses substantial challenges. Poorly-planned, sprawling cities have the potential to undermine efforts to sustain economic growth, improve energy efficiency, curb greenhouse gas emissions, and secure clean water supplies.

WRI brings substantial experience to this project, including its ten-year EMBARQ Center for Sustainable Transport, which is known for its programs on mobility and land use in Mexico, Brazil, India, Turkey and Peru. WRI has expertise in climate, water, energy, ecosystem services, and in pursuing solutions in collaboration with governments, business, academia and civil society.


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