Estimated duration
4 years
Estimated total value
Northern America
The Rockefeller Foundation; Japan International Cooperation Agency; Korea Environment Corporation; Bloomberg Philanthropies; World Resources Institute; Global Environment Facility; C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, Inc.; Local Governments for Sustainability USA (ICLEI); AECOM Technology Corporation; World Bank Group

Low-Carbon Livable Cities Initiative


The World Bank commits to launching a new initiative that will prepare cities for low-carbon city development, planning, and finance. The initiative will aim to make a difference in 300 of the world’s largest cities by 2030 and will build on the networks and initiatives of commitment partners, C40 Cities and the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities Centennial Challenge. The Clinton Global Initiative will serve as a catalyst for action by bringing together a community of leaders to push forward innovative solutions for climate action in cities.
Through the Low-Carbon Cities Initiative, the World Bank and its partners will offer a comprehensive suite of planning and financing tools and services according to cities’ level of progress and needs. This will range to engaging with cities that do not have the ‘basics’ such as GHG inventories and assessments; to those that need technical assistance to develop action plans for investment and financing; to those that are ready to refine action plans and implement investment programs. The World Bank Group is looking to make investments that will enable the reduction of emissions in the energy, building, transportation, or water and solid waste management sectors.
The Low-Carbon Livable Cities Initiative will bring to scale efforts that have so far encompassed a limited number of available tools or geographic regions. The Initiative will provide a unique suite of tools and catalyze the efforts of many partners to reach the world’s 500 largest cities.
Planning activities will consist of ramping up the number of cities with greenhouse gas inventories, which is the evidence-base needed to put cities on a low carbon growth trajectory (i.e., develop low carbon projects and policies at the city level); increase the number of cities with data-driven climate action plans and emission reduction targets; and help standardize ‘climate-smart’ capital investment planning at the city level. Financing activities will include: 1) A series of training and technical assistance services to define cities’ needs in view of becoming creditworthy and obtaining access to innovative financial instruments (incl. project-linked bonds); and 2) The development of new, pooled delivery mechanisms for city-based low-carbon infrastructure to attract more private capital to the sub-sovereign market.
Following the announcement of the initiative at the 2013 CGI Annual Meeting, the World Bank will continue to promote the suite of tools and services to cities at global events and in the form of city based bootcamps.
– September 2013: Announcement of Initiative at CGI Annual Meeting
– October 2013: Outreach at UCLG World Congress, first bootcamp – held in Nairobi
– November 2013: Outreach at Smart City Expo
– Winter 2013: Second bootcamp – held in Korea
– Year End 2013: Between 50 and 100 cities will have been informed and engaged on planning activities (e.g., GHG inventories, Climate Action Plan design) and/or financing activities (e.g., participation to the introductory session of the bootcamp, training, technical assistance)
– February 2014: Outreach at C40 Mayors Summit
– Year End 2014: Between 150 and 200 cities will have been informed and engaged on planning activities (e.g., GHG inventories, Climate Action Plan design) and/or financing activities (e.g., participation to the introductory session of the bootcamp, training, technical assistance)
– September 2015: Outreach at UN Leaders’ Summit
– Year End 2015: Between 250 and 300 cities will have been informed and engaged on planning activities (e.g., GHG inventories, Climate Action Plan design) and/or financing activities (e.g., participation to the introductory session of the bootcamp, training, technical assistance)


Responsible for two thirds of the world’s energy consumption and 70 percent of global CO2 emissions, cities face the challenge of accelerating population growth and increased climate vulnerability. Urbanization is occurring at an unprecedented pace; by 2050 6.2 billion people or 70 percent of the world’s population will be living in cities. The need for action is urgent. As cities grow, pressure on urban service delivery increases. Financing livable, low-carbon, and climate-resilient cities is the key to avoiding a four degrees Celsius average global temperature rise by 2100, as well as ensuring preparedness for a temperature rise of two degrees Celsius that may come as soon as 2030.
Responding to these global challenges comes at a cost for local city leaders as they face the combination of a $1.3 trillion annual infrastructure gap in developing countries, increasing effects of extreme weather events as a result of climate change, and the need to plan and design for a low carbon future. At the same time, very few cities have access to global capital markets to finance their response. Amongst the 500 largest cities in the world, only a small percentage is deemed credit worthy (about four percent in the international markets, and 20 percent in local markets). This is one reason that capital is not currently flowing to cities for low carbon infrastructure development at a scale adequate to address the issue at hand.

Progress Update

October 2016

The Low Carbon Livable Cities Initiative consists of four low carbon activities to help cities collect local greenhouse gas emissions data in a systematic manner, develop climate action plans, understand barriers to creditworthiness, and access innovative financing. Considerable progress has been achieved over the past year:

In 2014, The City Climate Planner Certificate Program held a technical workshop in Yokohama, Japan. Attendees agreed on the value of increasing the global talent base of climate planning professionals through a professional credentialing program to develop greenhouse gas GHG emissions inventories. A training curriculum was developed with the support of expert consultants. To test and refine the curriculum, a 3-day Pilot Training workshop was held in Washington, D.C. and was attended by professionals working on climate mitigation and adaptation activities at the city-level. Participants provided positive feedback and valued conducting complex technical exercises in a group setting. A 4-day item writing workshop was also held in Washington, D.C., during which experts developed a question bank towards a GHG Inventory Specialist certificate exam. A subsequent train the trainers workshop allowed the team to test out a refined curriculum and new interactive exercises. Next steps include finalizing the curriculum and exam, developing an e-learning course, creating a train the trainer’s handbook, and identifying an appropriate institution to be key in training climate planners on how to do a GHG emission inventory. The training will also be scaled globally.

CURB (Climate Action for Urban Sustainability) is a scenario planning tool that helps cities prioritize carbon abatement investments based on cost, feasibility, and impact on energy use and GHG emissions. An initial version of CURB, developed in coordination with AECOM and C40, was deployed in 2015 in pilots and trainings for numerous cities including Buenos Aires, Bangkok, and Johannesburg. Based on feedback from the pilots, the CURB team implemented new features, data support, and analytical improvements, resulting in CURB 2.0. CURB 2.0 offers an increased capacity to serve cities of all sizes and objectives in planning through a full set of global proxy data, improved financial analysis, and deeper analysis in 6 sectors. The team has also developed a suite of user support resources, including a user guide, data template, and methodology guide in both English and Spanish. A full launch for CURB 2.0 will occur on September 21st in conjunction with Climate Week NYC. A website, overview video, infographic, and feature story are ready for deployment; a blog post and training videos will follow. A host of cities are slated to deploy CURB this year, including Paris, Dhaka, Quito, Chennai, Bangalore, and 100 cities in Thailand, among many others in the pipeline. CURB has also been adopted by the Compact of Mayors to be deployed globally. The CURB team has leveraged the development to date for additional funding; Bloomberg Philanthropies currently participates as a new development and funding partner.

The World Bank has reached over 220 cities to date through the delivery of eleven City Creditworthiness Academies. 70 new cities have been served since the last update, and each has completed Creditworthiness self-assessments and action plans. Further, a Climate-Smart capital investment plan was completed for Kampala, Uganda, which had previous achieved investment grade status through the program. Additionally, 4 climate-smart capital investment plans have been completed for 4 cities in Tanzania with a sample of projects (not the full range of pipeline projects). Finally, an online toolkit for creditworthiness self-assessment and action-planning has been developed (also translated into Turkish).

Partnership Opportunities

For the past two years, the core programs of the World Bank’s Low Carbon Livable Cities Initiative have been developed and require approximately $2,500,000 for implementation purposes.

NOTE: This Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Commitment to Action is made, implemented, and tracked by the partners listed. CGI is a program dedicated forging new partnerships, providing technical support, and elevating compelling models with potential to scale. CGI does not directly fund or implement these projects.