The Green Cities vision is to create healthier and more livable cities for all people, driven by an inclusive, climate-resilient, and circular economy that respects the planet’s boundaries.
Cities are home to more than half of the world’s population, while making up only two percent of global landmass. Urban residents generate 80% of global GDP, but they also consume more than 75% of the world’s natural resources, produce over 50% of solid waste, and emit up to 60% of greenhouse gases. Moreover, the land that urban centers occupy is expanding even faster than urban populations, encroaching on natural habits that are critical to sequestering carbon emissions and providing essential services like food and water for urban residents. These patterns of economic growth, unfettered consumption, and urban expansion are rarely distributed evenly within cities. More than one billion people continue to live in densely packed informal urban settlements and often lack access to basic services. Rapid urbanization, therefore, marks its footprint on multiple global crises including but not limited to climate change, biodiversity loss, pandemics, pollution, and food and water security. By 2050, two-thirds of the world’s population will be living in cities, where the benefits of urbanization can be directed and leveraged to address these intersecting urgent challenges.
At USAID, the Green Cities Division uses a local systems and community-centered approach that cuts across various sectors and development issues to improve local and planetary well-being. With a variety of backgrounds and expertise, we help developing countries and cities tackle development and environment challenges like pollution, waste, and climate change, while enabling growth and prosperity for all people – especially the most marginalized populations, like the urban poor. Our division recognizes that sustainable urban design is possible by harnessing the opportunities that cities provide. We work with USAID Missions to identify the root causes of urban development challenges, and we collaborate with other donors, national, state, and municipal governments, private sector partners, academic institutions, and civil society organizations around the world to address these challenges.
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Achieving agriculture-led food security
Advancing biodiversity conservation
Improving climate change and development programming
Creating successful and effective education programs
Solving global water and sanitation challenges
Strengthening land tenure and property rights
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