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Winners

The winner in the Air Quality category is a city that has faced air quality challenges for decades. In 1992, the United Nations reported that Mexico City was the most polluted city on the planet. Thanks to a series of comprehensive plans – named ProAire – over the last two decades, the city has curbed its signature smog haze and recorded impressive reductions in local air pollution as well as CO2 emissions. Mexico City’s air quality programmes include bus rapid transit (BRT) and Metrobus systems, the Ecobici bike-sharing programme, and an initiative that removed cars entirely from narrow streets to make room for buses and pedestrians. There is no quick fix when it comes to air quality, but Mexico City has shown that years of determination mixed with a comprehensive approach can make a huge difference.

Bogotá is the winner of the Urban Transportation category for its TransMilenio + E-Taxis project. In spite of financing constraints and a fast growing population, the city took on the challenge of improving its public transport infrastructure. Bogotá’s widely praised bus rapid transit (BRT) system, TransMilenio, now carries some 1.5 million passengers per day on a network of 87 kilometres. The city also began testing electric and hybrid buses on some routes last year, and took part in the Latin American Hybrid Electric Bus Test Programme (HEBTP), an initiative designed to test hybrid and all-electric buses in Latin America, in real-world conditions. The scale of the city’s ambition, when combined with a number of already demonstrated actions, culminated in a project that will impact the lives of all of Bogotá’s citizens and significantly reduce the city’s carbon emissions. To complement these initiatives, electric taxis are to begin operating in Bogotá as part of a pilot project. Taxis have the largest CO2 emissions per passenger in the city. A conversion to electric vehicle technology is expected to avoid the daily consumption of seven gallons of fossil fuel per vehicle, thereby cutting operating costs by more than 80 percent and greenhouse gas emissions by more than 70 percent across the taxi fleet.

The winner of the Sustainable Communities category is Rio de Janeiro for its Morar Carioca project -- a comprehensive urban revitalization strategy, which will invest in revitalization projects throughout the city with the aim of formalizing all of the city’s favelas by 2020. Brazil’s 2010 census estimated that 22 percent of Rio de Janeiro’s population lives in informal settlements. This programme will ultimately impact more than 20 percent of Rio’s population that are currently living in informal settlements, and will have a direct impact on the environment, health and welfare of more than 200,000 Rio residents. The aim is to keep people within their own communities, only relocating those currently occupying areas under high risk of landslides. Since 2009, nearly 20,000 families have been relocated, and the goal is to resettle all those living under risky conditions by 2016. As an example, 16 green houses, using environmentally friendly materials were built by the City Hall in the favela of Babilônia in 2013.

Copenhagen won the Carbon Measurement and Planning category as a result of its comprehensive and targeted carbon reduction master plan — CPH 2025 Climate Plan. By 2025, the city aims to become the first carbon neutral capital city. To reach this bold goal, the city council has adopted a wide range of initiatives that together should take the city’s CO2 consumption from its current level of around 2.5 million tonnes to under 1.2 million tonnes in less than two decades. The fact that the city is aiming to make up the balance of its remaining CO2 consumption by generating its own clean electricity is particularly innovative and ambitious. In order to reach this goal, Copenhagen is expanding wind farms and constructing biomass plants. The plan focuses on four areas: energy consumption, energy production, mobility, and city administration. The CPH 2025 Climate Plan was created with a clear goal to attain better quality of life for its citizens, encourage innovation, and create jobs and investments. This city has proven that the key for success is close cooperation between government, businesses, knowledge institutions and citizens.

Tokyo’s Cap-and-Trade Program won the Finance and Economic Development category. Launched in April 2010, it is the world’s first urban cap-and-trade programme, requiring CO2 reductions from large commercial, government and industrial buildings through on-site energy efficiency measures or participation in the emissions trading scheme. This effort stood out for its strong record of success in achieving tough emissions reduction targets in an impressively short period of time: in terms of overall compliance with the two commitment periods required by the program (2010-2014 and 2015-2019), 93 percent of required facilities have now met the first compliance factor and 70 percent of those facilities have already met the target to 2019. The success of this programme provides a compelling example – as well as a blueprint -- for other cities to follow.

San Francisco won in the Waste Management category thanks to its widely successful Zero Waste Program, based on the ambitious goal of zero waste by 2020. To meet this goal, San Francisco has used a three-pronged approach that addresses the legal, administrative, and social challenges of waste management reform. Specifically, the City enacted strong waste reduction policies; partnered with Recology, a like-minded materials management company, to innovate new programmes; and created a culture of recycling and composting. During the last decade, San Francisco’s recycling rate has increased by up to 80 percent, thanks in part to the smart financial incentives the city put in place. The city’s ability to mobilise all relevant stakeholders and engage citizens makes this project highly replicable.

Melbourne’s Sustainable Buildings Program is one of the most innovative city approaches to mitigate the environmental impact from commercial buildings. As Australia’s fastest growing city, Melbourne has been consistently embedding sustainability into its long-term development plans in order to ensure that growth is both economically and environmentally responsible. This winning programme encourages and supports building owners, managers and facility managers to improve Melbourne’s commercial buildings’ energy and water efficiency and to reduce their waste to landfill. The 1200 Buildings Program aims to overcome a major hurdle in retrofitting buildings: as the reduced energy costs resulting from retrofit activity flow to tenants (through reduced energy bills), there is often no financial incentive for buildings owners to undertake the works. To overcome these barriers, the City of Melbourne worked in partnership with the finance sector, building owners, and the State Government to establish the world’s first local government legislation for existing commercial buildings. Melbourne also recently launched a national online program designed to help apartment owners and their managers save money by improving energy efficiency of common areas in apartment buildings. The city demonstrated a high level of leadership in acknowledging financing challenges by developing a world-first financial assistance mechanism that increases access to finance and enables the successful expansion of the programme.

Munich is the winner of the Green Energy category for its ambitious and unique green energy plan, 100% Green Power. In cooperation with the city-owned utility company Stadtwerke München (SWM), Munich is aiming to produce enough green electricity at its own plants by 2025 to meet the power requirements of the entire municipality of Munich — at least 7.5 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) per year. This would make the capital of Bavaria the first city in the world with over a million inhabitants to run entirely on renewable power. Munich has already introduced many green initiatives over the past decades, but with this goal and clearly reachable targets the city is taking up a pioneering role in CO2 savings thanks to its ambitious production target of renewable electricity.

New York City is the winner of the Adaptation and Resilience category. Hurricane Sandy hit New York’s shores in October 2012, wreaking havoc on transport networks and power grids, and causing billions of dollars in damages. Out of the devastation rose a renewed determination to make the city more resilient in the face of severe weather events. New York stood out in this category for its development of A Stronger, More Resilient New York, a wide-ranging plan, which includes over 250 initiatives, 60 of which will be achieved by the end of 2013. These initiatives will further protect the coastline as well as strengthen the city’s buildings, and all the vital systems that support the life of the city (energy grid, transportation systems, parks, telecommunications networks, healthcare system, and water and food supplies). The ability to craft such a comprehensive plan – and then make it actionable -- only six months after Sandy occurred was made possible by at least 5 years of advanced planning and research.

Singapore’s Intelligent Transport System is the winner of the Intelligent City Infrastructure category. Thanks to this smart and sophisticated system, Singapore is one of the least congested major cities in the world, despite a growing urban population and limited physical space. To address these demands, the city has maximised the capacity of its road network, using policy tools and applying transportation technologies across the network. The city has pioneered the introduction of a variety of technologies, including one of the world’s first Electronic Road Pricing systems – tolls that vary according to traffic flows, and that work as a congestion charge. Other “intelligent” elements include an Expressway Monitoring and Advisory System, alerting motorists to traffic accidents on major roads, and a GPS system, installed on the city’s taxis, which monitors and reports on traffic conditions. All information from the systems feed into the city’s Operations Center, which consolidates the data and provides real-time traffic information to the public. Singapore’s Land Transport Masterplan Report describes the vision and strategy for a people-centred and comprehensive transport system that will meet the demands of this growing city.