Caterpillar Foundation Awards Major Support to World Resources Institute for Sustainable Cities Initiative

A five-year pledge of $12.5 million will focus on key urban centers in China, India and Brazil. Photo by Ernie.

The Caterpillar Foundation today announced a five-year, $12.5 million grant to the World Resources Institute (WRI) to advance the progress of environmentally sustainable and livable cities in China, India, and Brazil.

WRI intends to develop low-carbon city models and pathways for environmentally sustainable urbanization (ESU), and to promote the diffusion of environmentally smart and livable cities. WRI will partner with up to five urban centers to demonstrate how they can use “avoid, shift and improve” strategies to increase energy efficiency, curb greenhouse gas emissions, and improve water quality, urban mobility and land use.

“Sustainable urbanization is challenging, and the World Resources Institute has a proven track record of developing innovative approaches to the world’s biggest environmental and sustainability issues,” said Kevin Thieneman, Caterpillar China, India and ASEAN Country Manager. “Caterpillar is proud to support WRI’s work to create more sustainable and livable cities. It is our hope that the lessons learned in China, India and Brazil will guide the world’s urban centers toward more sustainable growth models that will generate practical solutions for managing rapid urbanization and improve the lives of millions of people.”

“WRI’s work in sustainable urbanization will go a long way toward making the great urban centers of tomorrow more sustainable and livable for all inhabitants,” said Caterpillar Brazil Country Manager Luiz Calil. “With its focus on sustainable progress, this project closely aligns with Caterpillar’s core business and will hopefully prove to be a template for more sustainable growth all over the world.”

WRI will create “blueprints”—low-carbon plans for environmentally sustainable and livable cities—to catalyze and help implement large-scale, high-impact demonstration projects. WRI will then conduct a prodigious targeted outreach effort to disseminate lessons learned to other growing cities to help them scale up and adapt key elements to their own conditions.

“Cities are incubators of innovation and are rapidly becoming the focal point for sustainable development in many countries,” said Manish Bapna, Interim President of WRI, “In the 21st century, people in urban areas will lead the pathways toward more renewable energy, improved mobility, and greater economic security. We are grateful to Caterpillar for their support to significantly expand our ability to develop sound solutions and achieve these goals.”

The ESU initiative will have three main phases:

  • Blueprints for Environmentally Smarter Growth: Blueprints will identify key steps toward addressing climate, water, land use and mobility challenges in ways that a) maximize economic efficiency and social benefits; b) minimize sprawl and environmental damage; and c) position the city to become a national and international model for sustainability.
  • Demonstration Projects: Moving from blueprints to action, WRI will catalyze large, high-profile and integrated projects that address more than one goal. Demonstration projects may include enabling a city to meet its carbon emissions-reduction targets; integrating development, transportation and pollution-reduction; and/or improving water quality and quantity.
  • Spreading Success to other Emerging Cities: WRI and its partners will pursue aggressive and targeted communications efforts to highlight the benefits of following new, smarter paths to urban growth among decision-makers in dozens of countries.

“Creating environmentally smart cities will demonstrate what is possible and practical,” said Professor Zou Ji, China Country Director for WRI. “With our partners, WRI aims to better equip leaders of growing cities with the training and tools to translate multiple concerns into coherent solutions and cost-effective action.”

China, India, and Brazil are among the world’s most rapidly urbanizing nations. In China, experts predict that by 2030 more than 70 percent of its people will live in cities, and that 221 cities will have at least one million residents. In India and Brazil, urban growth is explosive. Rapid urbanization poses substantial challenges. Poorly-planned, sprawling cities have the potential to undermine efforts to sustain economic growth, improve energy efficiency, curb greenhouse gas emissions, and secure clean water supplies. In all three nations, cities have the potential to lift millions of people out of poverty and become powerful engines for social progress.

WRI brings substantial experience to this project, including its ten-year EMBARQ Center for Sustainable Transport, which is well-known for its innovative programs on mobility and land use in Mexico, Brazil, India, Turkey and Peru. WRI has expertise in climate, water, energy, ecosystem services, and in pursuing solutions in collaboration with governments, business, academia and civil society.

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