How can we make cities greener?
SDG11 is the United Nations focus goal on Sustainable Cities and Communities.The world is increasingly urbanizing: today, half of humanity – 3.5 billion people – lives in cities and by 2050, two-thirds of the population will call a city home. As a result of this urbanization, our cities are growing by the minute. Every minute, we add 10,000 square meters of city space. Every five days, a new Paris. And every month, the equivalent of a New York City.
With this trend, we need to rethink how our cities are designed, built and operated. Despite cities occupying only 3% of the world’s land, they have a huge environmental footprint. From energy consumption to construction and from transportation to industrial processes, cities account for 70% of global carbon emissions. These numbers are set to increase over the coming decades. To make our world work for everyone and improve quality of life for the many and not just a few, the Sustainable Development Goals recognize the need to build inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities.
To enhance sustainable urbanization, we need to look at the buildings and infrastructure that make up cities. By adopting a low-carbon and circular approach throughout the entire built environment’s life cycle, from materials production to construction, and from operation to the demolition phase, cities can become catalysts to contain climate change. New smart-designs for cities can even make them carbon negative. Building greener cities also means adopting nature-based solutions to promote sustainable lifestyles, improve wellbeing and tackle challenges, such as air pollution, rising temperatures, flood risk and biodiversity loss. To ensure sustainable urbanization, we need to reduce cities’ adverse environmental impact by switching to a circular economy approach and by decoupling growth from the consumption of finite resources, reducing the use of materials, keeping materials in use as long as possible and recycling waste.
At Holcim, climate action is at the core of our strategy. We are working on four critical growth levers to accelerate the transition to net zero. First, we offer the world’s broadest range of green solutions, like ECOPact green concrete and ECOPlanet green cement, making low-carbon construction possible at scale. With our building solutions, like Airium, an energy-saving insulating foam, and Hydromedia, a permeable concrete that absorbs rainwater, we contribute to build greener cities. Second, we enable smart design, from green and insulating roofs to 3D printing, to significantly reduce the environmental footprint of buildings and infrastructure. Third, we drive the circular economy across everything we do, from recycling construction and demolition waste into new building products to powering our sites with energy drawn from materials at the end of their lifecycle. Lastly, we introduce new technologies, like carbon capture, usage and storage, to not only offer greener products to builders, but to decarbonize the way we make them.
Holcim is proud to support the Lead 2030 Challenge for SDG11.
This SDG11 Challenge aims to find and support solutions that make cities greener by pushing the boundaries of sustainable construction and urbanization. The challenge welcomes solutions from young innovators that:
- Deploy innovative and sustainable building materials and solutions that are affordable and scalable to enable low-carbon, circular, carbon neutral and even carbon negative cities.
- Increase access to sustainable infrastructure, from green mobility to green energy.
- Promotes sustainable lifestyles connecting nature and cities.
- Drive circular economy approaches to enable more recycling.
SDG11 Challenge criteria
Aligned: Evidently aligned with the Lead2030 Challenge for SDG11 supported by Holcim. See ‘About’.
Youth-led: Founded by a person aged 18 – 30.
Focused: Well-structured time horizon, identified key stakeholders and beneficiaries, and proposed outcomes that are reasonable and well thought out.
Market ready: Product/service already in market or ready to go to market.
Impactful: Solutions must have a positive social impact, for example generating employment, or developing skills.
Measurable: Impacts of solutions must have been adequately measured and/or be measurable.
Financially viable: Must be able to achieve efficiency and to survive independently through the resources they generate and/or the investments and donations they attract.
Scalable: Potential to perform as well or better after expanding in scope or size and/or being transported to other regions.
The winning solution will receive:
- Sponsorship to participate in the One Young World Summit 2022 in Tokyo from 16 to 19 May
- A US$50,000 grant from Holcim
- 12 months of mentorship from a team of Holcim professionals. The mentorship team will work to accelerate your solution based on the needs of your initiative or organisation, such as:
- Business strategy
- Best practices for data collection
- Monitoring and evaluation
- Product design