Cities on the Frontline of Sustainable Development Fri, Oct 14, 2011

Released at the conclusion of the Summit of the Urban Environmental Accords, the Gwangiu Cities Declaration sets the way forward towards the greening of cities through improved planning and intelligent management.

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World Mayors Pledge better Urban Planning for Greener Cities at Major Cities Summit

Gwangju/Korea, 14 October 2011 Mayors and officials from 80 cities meeting in the Republic of Korea, today, pledged to steer cities across the developed and developing world toward a green, resource efficient and low-carbon trajectory.

Released at the conclusion of the Summit of the Urban Environmental Accords, the Gwangiu Cities Declaration sets the way forward towards the greening of cities through improved planning and intelligent management.

Findings from the cities chapter of UNEP's Green Economy Report, launched at the Summit, indicate that current patterns of urban development could be costing countries over three per cent of GDP as a result of congestion to welfare cost.

The report says that improved urban planning could play a key role in growing economies, boosting social improvements and reducing humanity's environmental footprint.

The Declaration calls for the development of an Urban Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) under the UN Convention for Climate Change.

It also recommends the development of metrics to measure and report urban sustainability and to encourage the development of policies, regulations and innovative market mechanisms to accelerate the transition towards greener urban development.

"Initiating discussions on the development of an Urban CDM is a positive outcome of this Summit, so that the carbon emissions of each city can be measured and financial incentives will be rewarded to the amount of emissions reduced comparing with its targeted goal, especially given cities' heavy footprint of carbon emissions worldwide. The exchange and discussions we have had here will be the groundwork for an eco-friendly urban lifestyle for cities of the future," said Kang Un-Tae, Mayor of Gwangju Metropolitan city which hosted the Summit.

UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, Achim Steiner, said, "The Gwangju Cities Declaration identifies innovative measures to accelerate and scale up the greening of cities, from green infrastructures and recycling to energy efficient buildings and job generation. In doing so, mayors and city officials are signaling their determination to place cities at the forefront of sustainable development in the run up to Rio+20 in 2012 and next month's climate change conference in Durban."

The Declaration calls for action across five major sectors:

  • Achieving energy efficiency, in particular in the building sectors through adequate information, labeling schemes, incentives and supporting measures,

  • Supporting sustainable urban transport, with a focus on integrated transport systems that are safe, reliable and accessible,

  • Improved waste management through converting waste to energy, promoting recycling and reuse, and waste minimization,

  • Improved water and wastewater systems with focus on more efficient sanitation, safety and health, reliable distribution systems with access to all, improved management of resources and water demand,

  • Better Ecosystems management to protect habitats, the food supply chain, fragile ecosystems and to improve risk prevention and resilience;

The Urban Environmental Framework and Assessment Index, together with the Urban CDM, will be further elaborated by UNEP in cooperation with other concerned UN agencies and partners and tested before finalization in view of the next Urban Environmental Accords Summit in 2013.

For More Information, Please Contact:

Nick Nuttall, UNEP Acting Director, Division of Communications and Public Information/Spokesperson, +254733632755, or

Satwant Kaur, Regional Information Officer, Korea Mobile: +82 (0) 10 2891 0642, Bangkok: +662 2882127, Mobile: 662 2882127, Email:

See young Choi, Public Relations Management Coordinator of UEA Gwangju Summit Secretariat, Gwangju, Republic of Korea, +82-62-611-3793 or

Notes to Editors

The Gwangju Summit of the Urban Environmental Accords

The Gwangju Summit of the Urban Environmental Accords was organized by the United Nations Environment Programme and the Gwanju Metropolitan City and co-hosted by the City of San Francisco. The Urban Environment Accords (UEA) was signed by 52 cities in San Francisco, 5 June 2005, on the occasion of World Environment Day. Today 109 countries are signatories of the UEA. These accords are a set of 21 concrete actions across seven thematic areas to achieve sustainable development at city level. The key issues addressed include energy, waste reduction, urban design, biodiversity, sustainable transport, environmental health, and water.


Created in 1972, UNEP represents the United Nations' environmental conscience. Based in Nairobi, Kenya, its mission is to provide leadership and encourage partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations. UNEP's Division of Technology, Industry and Economics - based in Paris - helps governments, local authorities and decision-makers in business and industry to develop and implement policies and practices focusing on sustainable development. The Division leads UNEP's work in the areas of climate change, resource efficiency, harmful substances and hazardous waste.

Metropolitan City of Gwangju, Korea

Gwangju is the fifth largest city in Korea and the largest city in Korea's Southwest Region. The total area is 501.25km2 and the population is 1,46,8000. Gwangju has achieved remarkable economic development fostering five main industries, namely car-manufacture, electronics, photonics, cultural items, and green energy. In particular, Gwangju become the environmentally-friendly leading city through big growth of e-co friendly industry such as the photonics industry and green energy industry, the carbon bank policy for the adaptation to climate change and urban park business promoted by governance

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