Home‎ > ‎


The Coalition for Urban Transitions will offer commentary and insights on the latest issues of urban transitions.

Contact our media team to arrange an interview and engage with us on Twitter and Facebook.

New Research: Integrating national policies to deliver compact, connected cities

posted Dec 12, 2017, 9:13 PM by Emily Kaldjian

Realising the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement will require a coherent and self-reinforcing policy programme to deliver compact and connected urban development. In this context, there is a need for effective coordination across the boundaries of established policy sectors: spatial planning, transport, housing, industry and environment. 

This report explores the ways in which urban policy sectors are integrated (or fragmented) in ten case study countries: China, Colombia, Ethiopia, Germany, India, Mexico, Nigeria, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States. The analysis is based on the most recent and authoritative national-level policy documents.

Download Integrating national policies to deliver compact, connected cities: an overview of transport and housing, a new working paper from the Coalition for Urban Transitions in partnership with the OECD and LSE Cities.

RELEASE: New Urban Leadership Council Aims to Make Economic Case for Better Cities

posted Nov 12, 2017, 5:57 AM by Emily Kaldjian   [ updated Nov 12, 2017, 5:59 AM ]

The Council comprises leaders of the world’s most prominent urban, development, and climate focused organizations

BONN, 12 November 2017: The Coalition for Urban Transitions launched its Urban Leadership Council in an announcement by C40 Executive Director Mark Watts at the high-level Climate Summit of Local and Regional Leaders at COP23 in Bonn, Germany. The Council draws from the world’s most prominent urban, development, and climate focused organizations, networks, and institutions to help unlock the full potential of cities to deliver on the climate, development and growth agendas.

Getting cities right can yield major dividends. For instance, research has shown that investing in compact, connected, and efficient cities could substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 3.7 Gt CO2 per year by 2030 and generate savings of as much as US$17 trillion by 2050. But many national governments fail to recognize the importance of investing in sustainable urban infrastructure, continuing to incentivize cars and coal rather than public transport and renewable energy.

‘Cities are on the frontline of delivering on climate action, global development and economic growth.’ said Mark Watts during the launch. ‘Many mayors are already demonstrating leadership on these fronts but to really unlock the full potential of cities, we also need to coordinate efforts at the national level.’

The Council aims to drive the global effort to unleash the full potential of cities: unlocking those trillions and driving strong climate action. It will do so by supporting national-level decisions on urban development in countries around the world, linking city-level strategies with broader national economic planning.

Its members include Sheela Patel, Chair of Slum/Shack Dwellers International, Gino van Begin, Secretary-General of ICLEI, and Wael Hmaidan, Executive Director of Climate Action Network International among others.

‘The battle for a sustainable future will be won or lost in the world’s cities. Yet only one-fifth of countries have urban strategies. We need much better coordination between city and national governments, agreement on how to fund them at a large scale and more capacity to get the job done,’ says Andrew Steer, President and CEO of World Resources Institute, ‘The Urban Leadership Council will be an invaluable asset in supporting national and city governments to work together, hand in hand, to get cities right and to achieve overall national economic, social, and environmental goals.’

The first Urban Leadership Council meeting will be held on Tuesday 14 November in Bonn.




Notes to Editors:

The Coalition for Urban Transitions, jointly led by C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40) and the WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities in partnership with the New Climate Economy, is the first major international initiative to make the economic case for better urban development globally.

The Coalition’s goal is to support national decision makers to unlock the power of cities for enhanced national economic, social, and environmental performance, including reducing the risk of climate change. The Coalition advances its efforts through an ambitious programme focused on 5 key areas: policies, finance, economics, mobility, and energy.

The Coalition is comprised of over 20 partners, including WRI, C40, Stockholm Environment Institute, The International Institute for Environment and Development, The Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy (at the University of Leeds), LSE Cities (at the London School of Economics and Political Science), PWC, Siemens, the Overseas Development Institute, the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations, Tsinghua University, the African Centre for Cities, McKinsey Centre for Business and Environment, the OECD, the Urban Land Institute, Climate Policy Initiative, the Ethiopian Development Research Institute, Economic Policy Research Centre (Uganda), and the Global Green Growth Institute among others.

The Urban Leadership Council is comprised of 16 members, representing 2050 Pathways Platform, ICLEI, Climate Group, Cities Alliance, Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy, Mission 2020, Climate Action Network International (CAN), New Climate Economy, Business & Sustainable Development Commission / Energy Transitions Commission, Slum Dwellers International (SDI), United Cities and Local Government (UCLG), UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), We Mean Business, and World Economic Forum.

For media inquiries contact:

Emily Kaldjian, emily.kaldjian@newclimateeconomy.net

Ferzina Banaji, ferzina.banaji@newclimateeconomy.net

Josh Harris, jharris@c40.org

New Research: Connected Urban Growth: Public-Private Collaborations for Transforming Urban Mobility

posted Nov 1, 2017, 7:39 AM by Austin Morton

Innovative, technologically sophisticated operators of ride-hailing networks, car- and bicycle-sharing systems, mobile trip-planning and ticketing apps, and other new mobility services are winning users in cities around the world. Their reception suggests that city dwellers need transport options that are more convenient and flexible than those offered by traditional private transport companies and public transit agencies.

However, many public transit systems face challenges such as rising costs, ageing assets, and rapidly increasing ridership. While private transportation services have given passengers appealing options in many cities, these services can also exacerbate problems related to safety, environmental quality, and other issues.

As new mobility services proliferate, cities will have opportunities to influence their roles so they not only improve convenience for passengers but also create wider economic and environmental bene ts for all city residents. One approach, which some 70 cities worldwide have taken, is to form partnerships that allow cities to use the distinctive features of new mobility services to improve their transportation systems overall. Evaluating the possibilities associated with this approach requires an understanding of the development of new mobility services in cities around the world, the partnerships that have been formed to date, and the economic and environmental implications of complementing public transit with new mobility models.

This working paper presents a working definition of the term new mobility services, which encompasses a broad set of emerging operating models and technologies that are intended to improve the performance of urban transportation systems. It also presents the first global survey of new mobility services, and identifies emerging trends and opportunities for decision-makers in both the public and private sectors.

Download Connected Urban Growth: Public-Private Collaborations for Transforming Urban Mobility, a new working paper from the Coalition for Urban Transitions, WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, Siemens, and the McKinsey Center for Business and Environment.  

New Research: Demystifying Compact Urban Growth

posted Sep 6, 2017, 10:28 AM by Austin Morton

Most developed countries now pursue policies that implicitly or explicitly aim at promoting compact urban form. This report analyses more than 300 academic papers that study the effects of compact urban form, and finds that 69% of the papers reviewed find positive effects associated with compact urban form. Over 70% of studies find positive effects of economic density (the number of people living or working in an area). A smaller majority of studies attribute positive effects to mixed land use (58%) and the density of the built environment (56%). 

These averages hid significant variation across specific dimensions of urban development. In order to understand the effects of compact urban form, the report estimates the monetary per capita value of the change in 15 outcomes in response to a 10% change in economic density. The major benefits of economic density arise from improved productivity and better access to jobs and services. Further benefits are generated through the preservation of urban green space, greater energy efficiency, pollution reduction and safer urban environments. The major costs of higher economic density are related to congestion, health and well-being. Increasing compactness can also contribute to higher land values and housing costs, which are borne disproportionately by renters and first-time buyers. 

Increasing economic density therefore requires accompanying policy interventions to maximise the benefits and minimise the costs associated with compactness. In particular, policymakers need to facilitate large-scale investment in housing supply and public transport networks to ensure efficient and equitable access to housing, services and jobs in compact cities. 

Download Demystifying Compact Urban Growth: Evidence From 300 Studies From Across the World, a new working paper from the Coalition for Urban Transitions and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), written by experts from the London School of Economics. 

New Research: Better Urban Growth In Tanzania

posted Aug 3, 2017, 7:35 AM by Joel Jaeger   [ updated Aug 3, 2017, 7:40 AM ]

Tanzania’s urban population is projected to grow from less than 15 million people in 2012 to more than 60 million people by mid-century. This rapid urban population growth offers the potential for structural transformation, as well as scale and agglomeration economies that can accelerate human and economic development. 

Planning and investment decisions made today will determine the performance of Tanzania’s cities for decades to come. National policy-makers in Tanzania have a critical role to play in providing adequate housing, services, infrastructure and jobs for current and future urban residents. 

This report provides an overview of the institutional, policy and financing landscape shaping Tanzania’s urban areas, and summarises some of the social, economic and environmental costs associated with current trends. While recognising the historical and ongoing constraints on the Tanzania’s urban development path, this report also highlights opportunities for the Government of Tanzania to drive a transition to more inclusive productive, inclusive and sustainable towns and cities. 

This report recommends the preparation of an integrated economic, spatial and tenure plan to manage urban growth at the country level. It underscores the importance of prioritising infrastructure investments that can help to address socioeconomic needs or bottlenecks, and could effectively anchor compact and connected spatial form. And it emphasises the importance of aligning and enabling the activities of municipal authorities, grassroots organisations, private enterprises and research institutes behind a shared vision of urban development.

Download Better Urban Growth in Tanzania: A Preliminary Exploration of the Opportunities and Challenges, a new working paper by experts from the Coalition for Urban Transitions, Economic and Social Research Foundation, Overseas Development Institute, International Institute for Environment and Development, and African Centre for Cities.

Release: Getting India’s urbanization right is a prize worth up to 6% of GDP

posted Apr 11, 2017, 8:19 AM by Austin Morton   [ updated Apr 11, 2017, 8:22 AM ]

New Delhi, November 29, 2016Better, smarter urban growth could be an economic opportunity for India worth up to 6% of GDP by 2050, according to the latest research from the New Climate Economy.

Continuing the current poorly planned, sprawling, unconnected pattern of urbanisation could impose an estimated cost of between US$330 billion and US$1.8 trillion by mid-century. At the household level, this equates to more than 20% of average household incomes.

The new paper also undertakes a first-of-its-kind analysis drawing on satellite data of night-time lights to compare cities’ urban form with their economic growth.

It finds that Indian cities that were more compact in 2002 experienced faster economic growth from 2002-2012. On average across a sample of 479 Indian cities, a 10% increase in a city’s dispersion index in 2002 was associated with a 0.4-0.9% point decrease in economic growth over the subsequent period.

There are a number of negative impacts or costs associated with India’s current urbanization model, ranging from increased costs of providing public infrastructure and services, transportation costs, traffic casualties, traffic congestion, air pollution, and health risks, among other considerations.

  • The costs of providing public infrastructure and services are likely to be as much as 30% higher in more sprawled, automobile-dependent neighbourhoods compared with more compact, connected locations.
  • 14 of the world’s 30 most polluted cities are in India, and outdoor air pollution in Indian cities is estimated to cause around 1.1 million premature deaths per year. India also has the largest number of total traffic deaths of any country: 137,572 were officially reported in 2013.

In India, urban sprawl is different than in other countries; it is best understood as a low density of built-up floor space per unit of land area, combined with severe overcrowding per unit of built-up area. For example, Mumbai homes have only about 30 square feet per person, less than a quarter of the comparable availability in urban China. Countering urban sprawl in India will require a greater emphasis on “appropriate” or “good” density combined with adequate provision of accessible and well-connected infrastructure and services.

The report recommends reforms and progress in three key areas to help deliver social and economic benefits for urban India.

  1. Reform of land regulations to manage urban expansion to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of land use.
  2. Expansion of sustainable urban infrastructure to encourage appropriately compact, connected, and coordinated cities.
  3. Reform to strengthen urban local government, accountability, and financing.

The research is being launched in New Delhi by members of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate Lord Nicholas Stern and Naina Lal Kidwai.


Notes to Editors:

Better Cities, Better Growth: India’s Urban Opportunity has been prepared by the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER); the WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities; the New Climate Economy (NCE), flagship project of the Global Commission on the Economy and the Climate; and the Coalition for Urban Transitions, an NCE Special Initiative. The paper was prepared in partnership with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Global Spatial Research Program on Spatial Development of Cities at the World Bank.

For media inquiries contact:

Ferzina Banaji, Ferzina.banaji@newclimateeconomy.net

Joel Jaeger, Joel.jaeger@newclimateeconomy.net

Release: Major coalition launched to make economic case for better cities

posted May 4, 2016, 2:54 PM by Austin Morton   [ updated Nov 8, 2017, 10:13 AM by Emily Kaldjian ]

The Partnership of over 20 major institutions will support national-level decision making, ensuring that city action is linked to broader economic planning.

Washington, D.C., May 5, 2016: On Thursday the New Climate Economy, along with C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40) and the WRI Ross Centre for Sustainable Cities, launched the Coalition for Urban Transitions, the first major international initiative to make the economic case for better urban development globally.

Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo made the announcement during a breakfast briefing organized by C40 and the Compact of Mayors at the Climate Action Summit 2016 in Washington, DC.

“Cities are the key to achieving both the Sustainable Development Goals and the national climate commitments of the Paris Agreement,” said Mayor of Tshwane, South Africa Kgosientso Ramokgopa. “This Coalition will build the evidence base for policymakers on the solutions that can unlock the power of cities to support better development and a better climate.”

Many of the barriers to city level action lie in the hands of national leaders and Ministers of Finance, Energy, Transportation, and Economy, who often hold key levers shaping urban development. The Coalition will support decision-making on urbanisation at the national level in countries around the world, linking city-level strategies with broader economic planning. Through economic research and in-country engagement, the Coalition will help governments put effective urban infrastructure investment at the heart of their growth strategies.

“Mayors know about the economic and wider benefits of sustainable cities, which is why many are doing everything they can to act on the opportunities from low carbon growth,” said Eduardo Paes, C40 Chair and Mayor of Rio de Janeiro. “However, the scale of the urbanisation challenge is so large that we can’t do it alone. We need national-level policy makers and economic planning to complement city-level efforts. That’s where the Coalition for Urban Transitions will play a big role.”

Managing urban development better can trigger major dividends. Recent research has found that investing in compact, connected, and efficient cities could substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions and generate global energy savings with a current value of US$17 trillion by 2050.

“The scale and pace of the global urban revolution happening now cannot be underestimated and the opportunities – if managed well – could be tremendous. For instance, just investing in sustainable transport offers not only social and environmental advantages but can also deliver savings of as much as $300 billion per year,” said Aniruddha Dasgupta, Global Director, WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, the managing partner of the Coalition. “Getting this kind of information – about the clear economic benefits of building better cities – into the hands of decision makers can help set us on a path where each country can start to reap the benefits of an urban dividend.”

Over the next three years, the Coalition will work in a number of rapidly-urbanising countries, such as China and India, where the scale of the challenge is immense:
  • Damage to health from poor air quality, much of which is associated with burning fossil fuels, is valued at over 10% of GDP in China. Compact and connected cities can help to meet China’s urban challenge – a billion people are expected to live in Chinese cities in the 2020s. If tightly linked by mass transit systems, such cities will be more liveable, attractive, competitive and energy efficient. 
  • India’s urban population will cross 600 million in the next 15 years. Its cities will account for 75% of national GDP and 70% of all net new jobs. However, half the world’s most polluted cities are in India, including the top four in the world: Delhi, Patna, Gwalior, and Raipur. Outdoor particulate matter pollution caused an estimated 630,000 premature deaths in India in 2010, and costs the equivalent of 5.5–7.5% of GDP per year. By investing in smart cities, India could reduce congestion and severe air pollution, whilst boosting productivity. 

Notes to Editors:
The New Climate Economy is the flagship project of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate. It was established by seven countries as an independent initiative to examine how countries can achieve economic growth while dealing with the risks posed by climate change. Chaired by former Mexican President Felipe Calderón, and co-chaired by renowned economist Lord Nicholas Stern, the Commission comprises former heads of government and finance ministers, leading business people, investors, city mayors and economists. Research for the Commission has been carried out by a partnership of 8 leading global economic and policy institutes.

The C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, now in its 10th year, connects more than 80 of the world’s greatest cities, representing 600+ million people and one quarter of the global economy. Created and led by cities, C40 is focused on tackling climate change and driving urban action that reduces greenhouse gas emissions and climate risks, while increasing the health, well-being and economic opportunities of urban citizens. The current chair of the C40 is Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes; three-term Mayor of New York City Michael R. Bloomberg serves as President of the Board. C40’s work is made possible by three strategic funders: Bloomberg Philanthropies, Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), and Realdania.

The WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities works to make urban sustainability a reality with global research and on-the-ground experience in Brazil, China, India, Mexico, Turkey and the United States. The Ross Center has a dedicated set of over 200 experts working in over 50 cities globally to affect sustainable urban change.

For media inquiries contact:
Joel Jaeger, Joel.jaeger@newclimateeconomy.net
Josh Harris, jharris@c40.org

1-7 of 7