Mayors are leading in addressing climate change, acting with a nimbleness that’s impossible for even the best-intentioned national governments. At last year’s COP21 climate meeting in Paris, thousands of city leaders met to share ideas.
Cities have always been centers of innovation, and today, urban leaders are inspiring one another to new heights of sustainability.
Bike shares have grown from a handful of European cities to hundreds around the world. Linear parks like Seoul’s Cheonggyecheon Stream, Boston’s Rose Kennedy Greenway or New York’s High Line, that replace outdated transportation infrastructure, have city planners scrambling to develop the next great urban park.
Elsewhere, micro-parks, car-free zones, energy-efficient buildings and smart cities that use technology to monitor environmental impact, are making headlines and attracting imitators.
Just picture what Boston, near my home, could learn about new strategies for building green from its sister city of Barcelona, Spain. Imagine the conversation about the challenges of sea-level rise that Boston’s leaders could have with its sister cities of Taipei, Taiwan and Praia, Cape Verde.
And cities bring together the full diversity of humanity. Only by tapping the imaginations and the skills of all people, will we be able to forge a sustainable future for the planet. Our coming cities century can transform how we live in urban areas, for the good of nature and to the great benefit of people in cities.
Cities need nature, and nature needs cities. Nature can protect cities from natural disaster, by providing new solutions for managing water, cleaning the air and cooling our streets. Nature can make the lives of city residents better, improving their health and wellbeing.
The billions of people who live in urban areas have the collective power to change our environmental future, by developing resilient, livable and flourishing cities where nature is an integral part of their daily lives.
This is an audacious goal, but it’s one that we can accomplish together, as brothers and sisters.
Congratulations to Sister Cites International on six decades of mutual learning and respect: The world needs your spirit of cooperation now, more than ever.