Cities, Climate Change and Green Growth


Cities and Green GrowthCompact CitiesCities and Climate Change
Cities at the Frontlines of Adaptation | Future flood losses | Publications | Related Programmes

Cities are home to over half of the world’s population and characterise many of today’s environmental challenges. Cities can also be catalysts for environmental policy solutions.  National, regional and local policy makers have pursued urban development through initiatives that seek to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and increase resource efficiency while beginning to steer their economies out of the global financial crisis. In co-ordination with national, regional and local governments, the OECD has been working to bridge the divide between achievement of ambitious environmental goals and economic development. Based on rigorous analysis, our peer-reviewed recommendations illustrate how cities can deliver cost-effective policy responses to global economic and environmental challenges simultaneously, addressing climate change while striving to achieve green growth.


‌‌‌‌‌‌Cities and Climate change-Policy Perspectives

This Policy Perspectives explores how enabling policy frameworks at the national level can support critical urban action to combat climate change. Read the key messages.


Cities and Green Growth

The OECD Green Cities Programme seeks to better understand the concept of green growth in cities; the potential of urban policies for urban and national green growth; and to inform national, sub-national and municipal governments as they seek to address economic and environmental challenges by pursuing green growth.

The programme contributes to the OECD’s horizontal work on green growth, initiated at the request of Ministers of the 34 countries who signed a Green Growth Declaration in 2009, thereby committing to strengthen their efforts to pursue green growth strategies as part of their responses to the crisis.


Green Growth in Cities                                                                                           

Green Growth in Cities presents the OECD Green Cities Programme’s main findings and policy recommendations, and provides a preliminary approach to measuring green growth in cities. The report draws on findings and evidence from in-depth urban level green growth studies [Paris-IDF (France), Chicago (United States), Stockholm (Sweden) and Kitakyushu (Japan)] and two national level studies on urban green growth (China and Korea). It also draws on data from the OECD Metropolitan Database and the conceptual framework, Cities and Green Growth. The report’s recommendations are primarily addressed to policy makers in OECD countries. Numerous findings and recommendations are nonetheless valuable for non-member countries, notably for those with high levels and rates of urbanisation.


Urban Green Growth in Dynamic Asia

How can urban green growth models be adapted to the unique development context of Asian cities? OECD has launched the Urban Green Growth in Dynamic Asia project  to explore ways to achieve green growth in fast-growing cities in Asia.

The project is composed of three elements: 

The Urban Green Growth in Dynamic Asia project is a key vector of the OECD Knowledge Sharing Alliance (KSA), which promotes mutual learning processes between OECD and emerging and developing economies. 


 Compact City Policies

Compact cities are not simply dense cities. Instead, they encompass a wider set of characteristics, including dense and proximate development patterns, built-up areas linked by public transport systems, and accessibility to local services and jobs. Compact City Policies: A Comparative Assessment (2012) offers a comprehensive understanding of the compact city concept, its role in today’s urban contexts, and the potential outcomes of compact city policies.


Cities and Climate Change

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The OECD book, Cities and Climate Change, shows how city and metropolitan regional governments can work in tandem with national governments to respond to climate change. Urban policies can contribute to a global greenhouse gas mitigation agenda and reduce the overall cost of emissions abatement, due to the impact of lifestyles, spatial form and transportation choices on greenhouse gas emissions, and the opportunity to serve as policy laboratories. Local-level financing deserves attention: urban revenue sources can be greened, such as through congestion charges and reforming property taxes that favour sprawl, and new financial instruments are needed, such as simplified, multisectoral urban involvement in the Clean Development Mechanism, Joint Implementation and carbon markets, as well as generally greater access to international and domestic capital markets. National policies and enabling frameworks can leverage existing local policy experiments, accelerate policy responses and learning, mobilise resources, and support harmonised local greenhouse gas inventory methods.


Cities at the Frontlines of Vulnerability and Adaptation

Urban action is a cornerstone of efforts to limit or avoid climate impacts on infrastructure, people and economies. With their in-depth knowledge of the local landscape, urban policymakers are at the frontlines of efforts to adapt and reduce vulnerabilities to climate change. Focusing on the economic costs and benefits of action, we have identified strategies to increase cities’ contribution to adaptation in both developed and developing countries. Our research has informed government action on adaptation with the following tools:

Future Flood Losses in Major Coastal Cities

Climate change combined with rapid population increases, economic growth and land subsidence could lead to a more than 9-fold increase in the global risk of floods in large port cities between now and 2050. Future Flood Losses in Major Coastal Cities, published in Nature Climate Change, is part of an ongoing OECD project to explore the policy implications of flood risks due to climate change and economic development.

   Read the communiqué

   Table of projections for cities in 2050: optimistic scenario

   Table of projections for cities in 2050: pessimistic scenario


Publications & Reports

 Green Cities

Vulnerability and Adaptation

Related Programmes

OECD Observer related articles
Urban Development
Climate Change
International Transport Forum
Climate change

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