23/05/2013 - Cities can generate growth and jobs while becoming greener – this is the message of the OECD’s new Green Growth in Cities report. Drawing on case studies of Paris, Chicago, Kitakyushu and Stockholm, the report identifies green policies that can respond to urban growth priorities and suggests how to implement and finance them.
More than half the people in the world live in or near cities today. By the middle of the century, urban areas will be home to over two-thirds of the global population and a large share of economic activity.
“Cities must be an integral part of international efforts to make our economies more sustainable, with local and national policymakers working together to reduce urban environmental impact, stimulate growth and improve well-being for their residents” said OECD Deputy Secretary General Yves Leterme. “The potential synergies between the environment and the economy in cities are obvious. For example, reducing congestion and pollution makes a city more efficient and more attractive to firms and highly skilled workers.”
The OECD’s city-level case studies provide urban leaders with new insights on how environmental policies can contribute to different types of growth.
There is an urgent need to find better ways to “green” urban finance and to mobilise private finance for green infrastructure. Introducing green incentives into municipal revenue streams would be a big step towards a more sustainable growth path. Property taxes could help prevent sprawl by eliminating the preferential tax treatment of single-family homes that exists in many places. Congestion charges and parking fees can help reduce traffic and pollution, while fees for water and waste services should be more responsive to actual resources used. For example, the City of Stockholm is greening its income with revenues from the congestion charges system. Implemented in 2006, this system has led to lower CO2 emission and traffic congestion and is also becoming a substantial source of income. National governments also have an important role to play in setting the pricing signals and standards that will provide coherence, attractive environment for green financing.
Journalists are invited to contact William Tompson (tel.: + 33(0) 6 01 00 07 86) for further information or interviews. For more information on the OECD’s work on green cities, please go to : www.oecd.org/greencities.