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Photo: Arab-Hoballah-and-Patricia-McCarney

UN and global data council partner to improve cities’ sustainability

03 November 2015

by Tom Teodorczuk

The World Council on City Data (WCCD) has signed a landmark partnership agreement with The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) designed to use standardised urban metrics to develop policy-making, sustainability and resource efficiency in cities.

The partnership agreement was signed at the Global Forum for Human Settlements in New York by Patricia McCarney, WCCD President and CEO, and Arab Hoballah, Chief of the Sustainable Lifestyles, Cities and Industry Branch at UNEP.

The two organisations will be operating within the framework of the Global Initiative for Resource Efficient Cities (GI-IREC), a UNEP-led initiative launched at the Rio+20 Summit that collaborates to promote energy efficient buildings, sustainable waste management and sound environmental fiscal management.

The alliance between UNEP, the agency that co-ordinates the UN’s environmental policies, and WCCD, an increasingly prominent global think-tank, was announced less than a month before COP21, the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference that will be held in Paris from 30 November to 11 December.

The organisations will work with cities to pilot a resource efficiency toolkit, pioneer best practices and help them achieve the Council’s ISO 37120 certification. ISO 37120, unveiled last year, was the first ever international standard for city data and has been embraced by cities and governments.

“This new partnership will further the shared goals of [both organisations] to help cities around the world to become more sustainable, resource efficient and prosperous through high-caliber city-level data,” said McCarney. “UNEP and the GI-REC initiative is playing a leading role in addressing the complex challenge of resource efficiency in cities. It is highly appropriate the GI-REC toolkit uses the ISO 37120 city data standard as the core of its measurement framework.”

The pilot cities group that the two organisations will be overseeing includes Brussels and Johannesburg which was one of the first WCCD 20 Foundation Cities to achieve ISO 37120 certification. Other WCCD foundation cities include London, Los Angeles, Barcelona and Shanghai.

Hoballah added: “As the world seeks a global climate agreement at COP21 in Paris in December, we are seeing that city action on climate change and sustainability is critical. Our partnership with the WCCD will demonstrate the value of the GI-REC and WCCD ISO 37120 certification to build city data, as an essential tool to drive policy making, planning and investment for resource efficient cities globally.”

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