Green growth and sustainable development

Green Growth in Cities


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----- About the publication -----



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Green Growth in Cities presents the OECD Green Cities Programme’s main findings and policy recommendations, and provides a preliminary approach to measuring green growth in cities. The report draws on findings and evidence from in-depth urban level green growth studies (Paris, Chicago, Stockholm and Kitakyushu) and two national level studies on urban green growth (China and Korea). It also draws on data from the OECD Metropolitan Database. The report’s recommendations are primarily addressed to policy makers in OECD countries. Numerous findings and recommendations are nonetheless valuable for non-member countries, notably for those with high levels and rates of urbanisation.



----- Main Issues -----

What is green growth in cities?

Chapter 1 starts by defining urban green growth. It provides an overview of the main drivers of urban growth and the urban activities that can reduce impact on the environment. It presents four main policy instruments that urban policy makers can use to foster green growth and discusses the factors that may affect their policy choices and scope of action, including national policies. Finally, six policy scenarios illustrate the potential impact of green growth policies on the economy.


Why are cities important to national green growth strategies?

Chapter 2 provides evidence for the important role cities play in both national growth and environmental performance. While cities can generate the positive effects of agglomeration economies, such as higher income and productivity levels, they are also vulnerable to negative agglomeration effects such as congestion, pollution and pressure on natural assets. This chapter underlines the strong link between cities’ environmental performance and urban form and demonstrates how cities can lower the abatement costs of national environmental policy targets, notably through transportation and land-use policies. This points to the key challenge of greening urban infrastructure, within the context of lagging global investment in infrastructure.


What are the high-priority green growth policies for cities?

The OECD has conducted four green city case studies (Paris, Chicago, Stockholm and Kitakyushu). These consider the potential impacts of urban green growth policies on i) jobs; ii) urban attractiveness; iii) local production of green goods and services; and iv) the value of urban land. While the small number of case studies and limited data are not sufficient to provide extensive evidence of the impact of urban green growth activities on the above goals, the case studies do offer preliminary insights into the types of policies that are most likely to contribute to each goal in urban sectors such as land use, transportation, the built environment, energy and waste. The chapter highlights examples of these policies and strategies to overcome obstacles in implementation.


How should urban green growth governance and financing challenges be addressed?

This chapter assesses the main governance and financing challenges in implementing green growth in cities. Multilevel governance – co-ordination across sectors and among different levels of government, private sector and civil society – is an important tool for integrating environmental and economic priorities into urban activities. This chapter proposes a framework for addressing potential gaps in co-ordination and suggests ways in which national governments can enable green growth in cities. This is followed by a discussion of the opportunities for increasing funding for urban green growth, which include aligning local revenue sources (including taxes, fees and charges) with green growth priorities. It will also be essential to mobilise private finance for green infrastructure investments, through mechanisms such as public-private partnerships, development charges, loans, bonds and carbon finance.


Measuring green growth in cities

The case studies informing this report have aimed to increase urban policy makers’ understanding of which green policies are most likely to contribute to employment growth, urban attractiveness, the local production of green goods and services, and urban land values. However, this report stops short of assessing specific urban green growth policies’ impact on economic growth or the environment, as the data to conduct such an assessment still do not exist. This is itself a major problem for urban policy makers: many cities seeking to foster green growth lack reliable, valid metrics for measuring their progress.



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