In recent years, city leaders across the globe have proposed initiatives, policies and projects to both combat climate change and to adapt their cities to the changes that have already been brought about by the changing climate.
Some have taken aggressive action to make their cities more sustainable. Today, 10 of these cities were honored at the C40 Cities Awards ceremony in Paris, amid the COP21 climate talks. Many of the awards were given for initiatives that reduced carbon emissions and improved urban resiliency.
Michael Bloomberg, the former NYC mayor who’s working with the UN on mayors and climate change, said in a press release that the awards reflect how cities are leading the way to combat climate change. “The C40 Cities Awards recognizes mayors who are doing the hard work of taking action on climate change — and delivering results,” Bloomberg said. “The solutions highlighted through the awards offer models for other cities to follow, and it is great to see the number of applications increase each year — a sure sign that our progress is accelerating.”
Boston (Credit: C40 Cities)
Boston, one of three U.S. cities recognized along with Washington, D.C. and New York, received the Smart Cities & Smart Community Engagement award for its Greenovate Boston program. Greenovate is an initiative to motivate Bostonians to make lifestyle changes, such as choosing tap water over bottled water and recycling electronics, that impact the environment. The city’s sustainability-centric thinking has prompted tangible action in recent years, from a competition that asked designers, planners and architects around the world to redesign Boston for sea level rise, to the hiring of its first chief resilience officer.
Rotterdam (Credit: C40 Cities)
Rotterdam’s strategy for adapting to climate change contains big goals: protect the city from the sea, rivers, and both too much and too little precipitation, increase climate change awareness and empower citizens to make meaningful changes, and accomplish adaption projects in an aesthetically pleasing way. It is this strategy that won the city C40’s Adaptation Planning & Assessment award. So far, the city’s projects include green roofs, the Benthemplein, a water square that collects rainfall, and water storage infrastructure in parking garages throughout the city. Rotterdam has been lauded in the past for sharing its plan to fight climate change publicly.
Cape Town was recognized for its work in water conservation at the ceremony. The South African capital stabilized its water demand through measures such as using recycled water to irrigate public parks and green areas, detecting and repairing leaks in more than 4,000 households, and replacing over 160 miles of water pipes to reduce pipe bursts and water leaks.
Wuhan (Credit: C40 Cities)
Two Chinese cities, Nanjing and Wuhan, won awards in the Transportation and Solid Waste categories, respectively. Both are rapidly and extensively expanding their rail networks, with plans to add and extend metro lines in coming years. Nanjing was recognized at C40 for another green transportation effort, however: its promotion of New Energy Vehicles (NEVs). Nanjing has both promoted private NEVs and deployed a fleet of NEVs including public buses and taxis. So far, 246,000 tons of CO2 emissions have been avoided thanks to the initiative.
Here’s the full list of C40 Cities Awards winners.
Boston: Smart Cities & Smart Community Engagement
Cape Town: Adaptation Implementation
Johannesburg: Finance & Economic Development
New York: Building Energy Efficiency
Rotterdam: Adaptation Planning & Assessment
Stockholm: Sustainable Communities
Vancouver: Carbon Measurement & Planning
Washington, D.C.: Green Energy
Wuhan: Solid Waste
Kelsey E. Thomas is a writer and editor based in the most upper-left corner of the country. She writes about urban policy, equitable development and the outdoors (but also about nearly everything else) with a focus on solutions-oriented journalism. She is a former associate editor and current contributing editor at Next City.