OECD work on Cities

Cities and Environment


Now more than ever, resilient, green and low-carbon cities are essential for an economically sound, socially responsible and environmentally sustainable future.

  • What's the issue?

Cities account for more than 70% of global energy-related CO2 emissions and an estimated 50% of global waste, and are home to nearly half of the world’s population. With a rising share of the global population expected to live in urban areas in the coming decades, the impact of cities on the environment – and their vulnerability to increasingly common extreme weather – will continue to grow unless significant action is scaled up.

Cities also provide concrete solutions to addressing climate change and to minimising wider impacts on the environment. Cities demonstrate strong leadership in many fields, setting sustainability and CO2 reduction targets that are often bolder than those of national governments. They are in close contact with citizens and businesses, are knowledgeable of local conditions and are well positioned to pilot ambitious measures in key environmental areas such as spatial planning, transport, buildings, and waste and water services. In the OECD, 60% of public investment occurs at the subnational level, of which nearly a third is channelled in to transport systems, underlying the key role of cities to invest in green and resilient urban infrastructure – especially vital in the recovery from COVID-19.


  • What can the OECD offer?

The OECD supports evidence-based policymaking that will drive the zero-carbon transition and secure sustainable and resilient cities and regions. We conduct policy analysis and share best practices in order to: i) craft actionable place-based policies; ii) improve coordination across levels of government; iii) amplify subnational governments’ significant, yet often overlooked, role in designing and implementing ambitious environmental policies.




The circular economy in cities and regions

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Compact urban development


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Green growth in cities

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A territorial approach to climate action and resilience

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Building decarbonisation in cities and regions

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Resilient cities

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For further information, please contact Tadashi Matsumoto, Head of Unit, Sustainable Development and Global Relations.


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