Global leaders in city finance met in Rio de Janeiro on 5 April 2016 for the first-of-its-kind global forum to accelerate the financing of climate action in cities. The C40 Financing Sustainable Cities Forum brought together over 130 representatives from government, non-government organisations and financial institutions to collaborate on solutions to bridge the gap between city climate ambitions and the investment community.
The event was part of the Financing Sustainable Cities Initiative, an ongoing partnership between C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, the Citi Foundation and WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, designed to help accelerate and scale up investment in sustainable urban solutions in cities around the world.
“I ask you all to pool the intelligence, experience and creativity in this room to work out how we can bridge the gap between cities and the finance community,” said Rodrigo Rosa, Special Advisor to the C40 Chair. “How to correct asymmetries of information, eliminate barriers, build confidence among us. If we bridge this gap, we can make sustainable cities a reality. This is the ambition of the collaboration between the City of Rio, C40, the Citi Foundation and WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, which brings us here today.”
City finance leaders participated in a series of panel discussions and networking opportunities to inspire action, highlight innovation, and create networks to accelerate city climate action through improved financing and new business models. Key themes of the day included leveraging private investment, innovative financing mechanisms and unlocking municipal funding sources for low-carbon buildings, transport and urban development.
Panelists included representatives from the Boston Consulting Group, C40, Citi, the Climate Bonds Initiative, HSBC, the Inter-American Development Bank, UN-Habitat, the World Bank, WRI Brasil Sustainable Cities and 2° Investing Initiative, as well as city representatives from Boston, Buenos Aires, Durban, New York, Rio de Janeiro and Tshwane.
Discussions centered on public and private collaboration to increase investment in sustainable urban solutions to improve the quality of life for rapidly growing city populations around the world, with 70 per cent of the global population projected to live in cities by 2050. They highlighted a number of successful projects around the world and the need for a common language and a forum for cities, service providers and capital providers to engage with one another in productive dialogue to scale up and replicate these successes.
Panelist, Umar Banda, CFO of the South African city of Tshwane, summed up the need for collaboration between public and private sectors from his perspective as a leading municipal finance practitioner:
“Cities in developing economies are finding it more challenging to build sustainable economic infrastructure whilst addressing the basic service delivery needs of the poor. It is clear that complex solutions involving the finance houses, the private sector and public sector are needed to build sustainable cities of the future. Cities have demonstrated that the solutions are there. The inaugural Financing Sustainable Cities Forum and Workshop has created the much-needed platform for cities to collaborate with each other and investors to put together a financed sustainable solution to climate change affecting cities.”
Following the Forum, ten C40 cities engaged in a two-day workshop hosted by C40 and the City of Rio de Janeiro in the Palácio da Cidade. The workshop provided a private space for cities to share their finance challenges and good practices and collaborate on practical solutions. The cities each developed concrete action plans to implement the new ideas from the workshop.
Cities presented on a range of solutions they were pursuing and challenges they were facing under the themes of land value capture, green bonds, revolving loan funds, public-private partnerships, development finance, energy efficiency for affordable housing and infrastructure planning.
Cities were also given a preview of a prototype of the Financing Sustainable Cities Platform, which will launch online as part of the second phase of the Financing Sustainable Cities Initiative. The solutions-focused Platform will highlight options available to improve urban services and help the public and private sectors work together to fund, finance and deliver sustainable solutions.
C40, WRI Ross Center and the Citi Foundation will be working together through the Financing Sustainable Cities Initiative to provide these cities and many others with the ongoing support they need to help turn their plans into action.
Additional photos from the Forum are available on the C40 Flickr page. For more coverage of this event, see the blog article by Val Smith, Citi’s Director and Head of Corporate Sustainability. For more information on the Financing Sustainable Cities Initiative, please contact Skye d’Almeida, C40 Sustainable Infrastructure Finance Network Manager on firstname.lastname@example.org.