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One Planet City Challenge
© Eitan Prince/WWF-SA

The One Planet City Challenge is an international WWF initiative which invites cities in participating countries to report ambitious and innovative climate actions, and to demonstrate how they are delivering on the 2015 Paris Agreement through plans and actions to ensure that their emissions align to 1.5°C by 2050.

What is the issue?

Although mitigation of carbon emissions and adaptation to the impacts of climate change must be addressed first and foremost at a global level, it also requires active intervention and support at national government and city levels.

Cities are huge users of resources. They consume 75% of the world’s natural resources, 80% of the global energy supply and produce approximately 75% of the global carbon emissions. By 2050 the global urban population will double. Already, over two-thirds of South Africa’s population live in cities.

Not surprisingly, many believe that the global struggle for sustainable development will be a battle largely waged in cities.

What are we doing?

WWF created the One Planet City Challenge to highlight solutions to address rising carbon emissions, and to recognise and reward cities that are putting them to use. These are cities that aim to provide sustainable housing, transportation, and energy for their residents.

How do we do this?
Every two years, an invitation is extended to cities to sign up for the challenge and demonstrate their leadership for a renewable and sustainable future. Cities report their commitments and actions on the Carbon Disclosure Platform. These commitments are reviewed through a robust evaluation process by external adjudicators and each participating city is provided with a feedback report that rates their level of ambition, commitment and action, and the extent to which these will lead to a 1.5°C alignment by 2050.

These commitments and actions are also reviewed by an international jury of experts tasked with identifying the most outstanding cities. The most ambitious cities are selected winners at a national and global level and are then recognised at a global award ceremony.
Who do we work with?

WWF works with the major metros, as well as ambitious smaller cities such as Kwadakuza and Msunduzi. In South Africa we are supported by ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability – Africa.

How did it start?

WWF International recognised the opportunity to address climate change by incentivising cities through a challenge which would recognise the good work they are doing to reduce their carbon emissions. Since the inception of the challenge in 2011, WWF has engaged over 320 cities across five continents. This initiative has grown exponentially with more than 200 cities participating in the latest round.

What are the big wins?
  1. South African cities realised an aggressive reduction of carbon emissions and set ambitious energy goals.

  2. South African cities implemented best-practice urban planning and technical solutions to support sustainable outcomes in urban infrastructure, water, waste, energy and transport.

  3. Rolling out innovative financing to support South African city investment in climate action.