Margot Brandenburg, Associate Director, The Rockefeller Foundation
In 2007, the world we live in made a dramatic shift from a majority rural to a majority urban population – with more than half of all people now living in cities. This increase isn’t stopping any time soon – with 70 percent of our population, or 6.4 billion people, expected to be living in cities by 2050. The need to invest in our urban centers is more clear than ever, but how we choose to make those investments will be what allows our cities to sustain themselves over the next decade, the next century and beyond.
Just under a year ago, the US government and the Brazilian government came together – with the support of The Rockefeller Foundation, and right here in Rio - to form the Joint Initiative on Urban Sustainability (JIUS) – charged with establishing a broad framework for measuring social, environmental and health benefits from greener urban infrastructure investment, highlighting innovative projects for visibility and investment, and creating a global model for building green economies and smarter cities in the US, Brazil, and around the world.
It is exciting to be back in Rio – after a journey that has taken all of us from Rio to Philadelphia and back again. In just a short time, JIUS has yielded a number of inspiring outcomes that we hope will serve as the Foundation for a series of models on sustainable urban infrastructure.
Yesterday, our Foundation President Judith Rodin stood with EPA chief Lisa Jackson and Isabelle Texeira, Minister of the Environment in Brazil to announce these outcomes, and the next steps for how we can take JIUS forward as an example for all delegates in Rio of a collaborative model on how to make cities more sustainable.
In just under a year, JIUS has:
- Produced a ‘cookbook’, with ‘recipes’ that profile different models of sustainable infrastructure investment in cities throughout the world. This cookbook will allow any city in the world to access a recipe and learn the ingredients and steps required to replicate an investment.
- Contributed to progress on the ground in both Rio and Philadelphia in areas like port development, storm water infrastructure, and freshwater remediation.
- Sparked relationships and collaboration – showing the power of public/private partnerships - across government, civil society, investors and the private sector in the US and Brazil.
Moving forward, JIUS will now transition from a bilateral to a global initiative, allowing cities around the world to learn from each other and create a standard for the social, environmental, and financial innovation profiled in the JIUS cookbook.
We will now hand JIUS off to global networks like the C40 and the Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network, who can promulgate it among their members and continue the critical dialogue among cities and between governments, investors and civil society.
As delegates meet to determine sustainable development goals for our future, the Foundation is proud that JIUS can serve as the model of the type of bilateral collaboration, mutual learning and holistic approach to generating economic, social and environmental value that we know must be hallmarks of a sustainable 21st century.