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Expert Voices: Abha Joshi Ghani, Sector Manager, Urban Development and Local Government Unit, The World Bank

One year since forging initial partnership, C40 and World Bank reach a major milestone in joint effort to streamline cities’ access to information, tools and resources driving local climate action.

Photo credit: The World Bank.

Urban areas have long been a focal point for World Bank efforts to promote economic development and address global climate change. This is because, while cities contribute 80% of greenhouse gas emissions, they also offer the most environmentally-sound way of delivering economic opportunities and a high quality of life. As a result, the global response to climate change will largely succeed or fail in cities.

We at the World Bank see this as an urgent call to action: to equip city leaders and national governments with the knowledge, financing, and innovations they need to foster green and inclusive urban development.

Accordingly, the World Bank Group offers a range of existing programs and tools that help cities reduce greenhouse gas emissions and manage the climate risks to which the urban poor are most vulnerable. In fact, we have a 50 year track record of supporting many of the cities in the developing world that are now members of C40, including with about $20 billion of active investments. Yet many of our tools were simply not readily known or accessible by cities.

In response to this challenge, a year ago the Bank and C40 took an important step together to accelerate actions that address climate change in cities. Specifically, at the C40 Mayors Summit in 2011, we announced our groundbreaking partnership focused on identifying and removing the barriers that cities face in obtaining financing for climate-related projects. We have now reached a major milestone in this joint effort: launching, as envisioned, the first phase of a “one window process” through which C40 Cities in developing regions can proactively learn about and request support from the World Bank.

This new, one-stop shop approach provides cities with streamlined access to over a dozen investment and financing instruments—ranging from climate investment funds to development policy lending—that can help cities overcome the expensive but often necessary upfront costs of green infrastructure. Just as important, the window additionally offers enhanced access to 14 knowledge-based services, ranging from standardized sustainability metrics to tools that help assess a city’s energy reduction opportunities. Where cities do not meet the eligibility criteria of these programs (for example, having completed GHG inventories and climate action plans), the C40 and World Bank will work with local governments to put these building blocks in place.

In recent discussions, the C40 Chair, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and the President of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, reconfirmed the basic principles that underpin our organizations’ original agreement: a city-driven approach; simplified and direct procedures; openness and transparency; city-to-city learning; and inclusiveness.

Indeed, while the newly opened “one window” now targets developing-world cities, the partners are equally committed to fostering solidarity and knowledge exchange among all C40 Cities. In this way, cities can better learn from each other and collaborate on common solutions to collectively address their shared challenges of creating jobs, improving lives, and responding to global climate change. In support, the World Bank is committed to providing the financial instruments, knowledge, and innovations that will help put our cities—and thereby our planet—on an sustainable and inclusive path to prosperity.