New Delhi: In a process to enable Indian cities to generate “decarbonization solutions” in sustainable ways, the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) on Thursday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) here in New Delhi.
“The MoU was signed to collaborate on a jointly designed ‘Sustainable Cities India program’ which will aim to create an enabling environment for cities to generate decarbonization solutions across the energy, transport, and the built environment sectors,” said the official statement.
This initiative assumed significance after Prime Minister Narendra Modi stated India’s commitment to turn net-zero by 2070 as a climate mitigation response at COP26 summit last November.
The ‘Sustainable Cities India program’ intends to enable cities to decarbonize in a systematic and sustainable way that will reduce emissions and deliver resilient and equitable urban ecosystems.
The WEF and NIUA will adapt the Forum’s “City Sprint process” and “Toolbox of Solutions” for decarbonization in the context of five to seven Indian cities across two years.
According to the statement, the City Sprint process is a series of multi-sectoral, multi-stakeholder workshops involving business, government, and civil society leaders to enable decarbonization, especially through clean electrification and circularity.
The outcome of the workshop series will be a shortlist of relevant policies and business models, which not only reduce emissions but also maximize System Value, such as improved air quality or job creation.
City Sprints will help to jumpstart and/or accelerate net zero planning and action. The City Sprint process uses the Toolbox of Solutions – a digital platform containing over 200 examples of clean electrification, efficiency, and smart infrastructure best practices and case studies across buildings, energy systems and mobility from over 110 cities around the world.
The City Sprint process will also enable cities to run pilot solutions and, based on findings, India will be able to contribute 10 to 40 best practice case studies which will be integrated into the Toolbox of Solutions and showcased across the world.
Speaking at the MoU signing event, Kunal Kumar, Joint Secretary and Mission Director (Smart Cities Mission), Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs “In realizing this vision to accelerate the clean energy transition, conversation and more importantly, action amongst all actors of the quadruple helix is critical.
“This partnership between NIUA and WEF is an important step towards that direction. This collaboration will help cities in India and cities globally to learn from one another and drive action towards sustainable development and climate resilience,” he added.
Hitesh Vaidya, Director, National Institute of Urban Affairs said, “India is rapidly urbanizing; its scale and pace is unprecedented. It is imperative for institutions to prioritize and embed climate resilience in the urban development process”.
“In this regard, cross-sector and inter-organizational partnerships are crucial to foster an exchange of knowledge and identify best practices which can be applied effectively in the Indian context. I see great value in NIUA’s collaboration with WEF as it will not only build the capacities of urban practitioners in India through the City Sprint workshops but also provide them access to a global Toolbox of Solutions and connect with other potential partners in our vision to make Indian cities future-ready” he said.
Kristen Panerali, Head of Energy, Materials, Infrastructure Program – Net Zero Carbon Cities, World Economic Forum, on the occasion, commented that the new models of public and private collaboration are needed to make progress towards net-zero goals. The City Sprint workshops are designed to enable government and business leaders to work together to identify and implement solutions across energy, mobility, and the built environment.
As per the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report 2022, densely populated countries that are highly dependent on agriculture, such as India, are especially vulnerable to climate insecurity. Decarbonization in cities is a real opportunity to keep global warming well below 2°C and cities in India can make an enormous contribution in reaching this goal.