The Green Frontier: Building Back Greener Cities

How can cities build back better and greener after coronavirus? Josué Tanaka and Sue Goeransson, climate change and infrastructure experts, gave the EBRD point of view at a webinar hosted by the EBRD Green Cities team and jointly moderated by team leaders Nigel Jollands and Lin O’Grady. (To access the webinar recording please press here)


The webinar, part of London Climate Action Week 2020, began with a keynote speech from London’s Deputy Mayor Shirley Rodrigues, comparing London’s thinking about green city planning post-Covid19 with the work going on in the 43 cities that have joined EBRD Green Cities, the development bank’s innovative urban sustainability programme.


Representing city governments were Tirana’s Deputy Mayor Anuela Ristani and Warsaw’s Justyna Glusman. Sarah Colenbrander of thinktank ODI and Drazen Kucan of the Green Climate Fund, created to support the efforts of developing countries in responding to the challenge of climate change, added a broader perspective.


The thinking was positive and practical. “The reality is that this terrible pandemic has given us a glimpse into a future that could come if we fail to deal with climate change,” Rodrigues told the meeting. “We know we must emerge from this with ways to deal with the climate emergency in next 10 years. Climate justice and social justice go hand in hand with the right investments in jobs and infrastructure. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to rebuild our cities to make them better geared to the challenges of tomorrow. Let’s make most of the opportunity.”


Looking at how to do this in practice, the EBRD’s Josue Tanaka, who is Managing Director for Energy Efficiency and Climate Change, explained that the EBRD is filtering its planning for cities, “at the intersection between green and recovery,” to focus on projects that are labour-intensive, with low capital intensity, and shovel-ready. Many opportunities exist in sustainable infrastructure investments: in decarbonisation of buildings, rebalancing transport planning, and making cities smart and more socially inclusive.


Among challenges, he said, “it’s not a coincidence that from a banking point of view one challenge is money. Tax revenues are going down, there’s been a reprioritisation of budgets. People look to the stimulus, a wave of money will help all cities solve their problems. We don’t yet see many countries’ national governments really emphasising the role of cities. That’s part of the role we see for ourselves, as ‘one of the defenders of cities’. The EBRD business model has been very much to work with cities, directly.”


EBRD Green Cities, founded as a pilot project in 2016 to help cities overhaul their infrastructure to become more sustainable, has proved a runaway success. The EUR 1.5 billion programme now groups 43 cities in eastern Europe, Central Asia and the southern and eastern Mediterranean. Cities in the regions where the EBRD works tend to be much more carbon-intensive than the EU average, making joined-up thinking especially useful. Cities that join the programme demonstrate engagement by signing a trigger project, then, with EBRD help, draw up a tailor-made Green City Action Plan (GCAP) to coordinate further efforts to make their own home more liveable for the future.


As Sue Goeransson said: "EBRD Green Cities are critical to what we’re doing in infrastructure. We aim to enhance and expand the Green Cities programme, and look forward to this year introducing more cities to Green Cities, because its methodology is a fantastic way for cities to address climate challenges."


Both city officials at the webinar talked of the importance of the action plans.


Speaking for Warsaw, which joined the programme just two weeks ago, Justyna Glusman described how her city would put together a plan combining both a GCAP and a CAP, the planning tool for the C40 network of the world’s major cities, supporting them to collaborate effectively and deliver action on climate change. “The GCAP is the backbone for Warsaw’s green recovery,” she said.


As for Tirana, whose current city government has led a push for more sustainability since coming to office in 2015, Anuela Ristani told the discussion that the green agenda had risen in public consciousness due to the pandemic, which had raised public knowledge, awareness and demand for green investment and actions. “The GCAP is now our main strategy, and we filter investments in the city by the GCAP approach,” she said.


How the sudden onslaught of the coronavirus pandemic, and the recovery plans now being formulated, fit with existing ambitions to make cities greener, was set out succinctly by Sarah Colenbrander of ODI.


“First, even before the pandemic struck, the numbers were clear: greening cities offers an unprecedented opportunity to boost living standards, enhance productivity, and create jobs. With unemployment soaring around the world, creating decent local jobs is more urgent than ever. One report, Climate Emergency, Urban Opportunity, found that pursuing low-carbon urban development would support 65 million more jobs in 2030 than making the same investments in brown urban development. And beyond that? Well, there are no jobs on a dead planet.


“Second, COVID-19 has led governments around the world to (temporarily) tear up the fiscal rulebook. Public debt has suddenly ballooned after a decade of austerity and financialisation to balance public balance sheets - and investors have hardly blinked. This suggests that the large investments needed for a green economic transition are also possible, particularly as many of these are investments that will more than pay for themselves while creating a better quality of life for citizens.


“Third, the coronavirus and the lockdown have laid bare the stark inequalities within cities. Thousands have struggled to survive without secure livelihoods, without decent housing, or with disparities in policing. It is urgent that we have a green recovery to avoid the climate catastrophes that would also hit the poorest the hardest. At the same time, we need to recognise that a green recovery will not solve all those inequalities in itself. We need additional, complementary policies that boost living standards and resilience for the poorest so that nobody is left behind.”


To access the EBRD Green Cities: The Green Frontier webinar recording please press here.

Istanbul joins EBRD Green Cities urban sustainability programme - 03.05.2021

EBRD Green Cities welcomes 6th of October City to its programme - 22.04.21

برنامج المدن الخضراء التابع للبنك الأوروبي لإعادة الإعمار والتنمية يرحب بانضمام مدينة 6 أكتوبر

Skopje to introduce first Bus Rapid Transit system in Western Balkans - 21.04.21

EBRD supports district heating improvements in Dushanbe - 14.04.21

New trolleybuses hit the road in Balti, Moldova - 01.04.21

Noile troleibuze au fost puse în circulație la Bălți - 01.04.21

Policies to make your city greener - 31.03.21

Women Leading on Green: a female perspective on sustainable planning - 11.03.21

Green City Mayor Erion Veliaj honoured as a hero of sustainable mobility - 03.03.21

Public consultation on draft GCAP for Belgrade - 25.02.21

Balti launches public consultation on environmental challenges - 20.02.21

Helping Polish ex-coal mining city of Wałbrzych revitalise its economy - 14.01.21

Amman to introduce new bus fleet under EBRD Green Cities programme - 31.12.20

مدينة عمان تطرح أسطولاً جديداً من الحافلات في إطار برنامج المدن الخضراء التابع للبنك الأوروبي لإعادة

Chisinau landfill revamp financed by EBRD, EIB, EU, its members, Moldova and Norway - 16.12.20

EBRD lends Ankara bus company €57.1 million to renew bus fleet - 10.12.2020

Electric buses for a greener Batumi - 04.12.20

Warszawa rozpoczyna prace nad „Planem działań na rzecz środowiska i klimatu” - 03.12.2020

Work starts on Warsaw’s Green City and Climate Action Plan - 03.12.20

New “GCAP 2.1” announced at sixth EBRD Green Cities webinar - 24.11.20

Flagship EBRD Green Cities doubles in size - 19.11.2020

Дан старт работе проекта «План действий «Зеленый город» (ПДЗГ)» - 10.11.20

Kick-off meeting for Dushanbe's Green City Action Plan - 10.11.20

EBRD, EU and multi-donor E5P-financed electric “green” buses arrive in Batumi - 20.10.2020

Green and inclusive: EBRD Green Cities webinar - 20.10.20

Ceremony marks Split becoming 41st EBRD Green City - 16.10.20

Putting 'Nature, people and planet at the heart of our economy' - 07.10.2020

EBRD and EU finance solid waste management in western Ukraine - 07.10.2020

Global Infrastructure Forum: panel on Green Cities and Smart Solutions - 07.10.20

How ‘smart’ can keep cities safer from pandemics- 07.07.2020

The Green Frontier Webinar - 01.07.20

Transition to Recovery Webinar - 09.06.20

EBRD welcomes Chisinau’s Green City Action Plan - 04.06.2020

EBRD welcomes Iasi, Romania, as 42nd Green City - 04.06.2020

EBRD finances modernisation of Tbilisi metro - 30.04.2020

It's good to talk: an impressive first EBRD Green Cities webinar - 29.04.2020

COVID-19: A message of solidarity - 15.05.2020

East Kazakhstan leadership act to transform two cities - 12.02.2020


How Pristina can become a Green City - 24.09.2019

Novi Sad in Serbia to buy 30 CNG buses with €7m loan in EBRD urban greening programme - 23.08.2019

EBRD to improve water supply in Banja Luka - 13.09.2019

Shymkent joins EBRD Green Cities programme - 22.07.2019

Building a Better and More Sustainable Future for Cities - 08.07.2019

Cairo becomes 30th participant in fast-growing EBRD Green Cities - 03.07.2019

Green Climate Fund makes €87 million available to EBRD Green Cities - 2.7.2019

EBRD helps Moldova’s second largest city buy more new trolleybuses -03.06.2019

Fast-growing EBRD Green Cities signs up its 25th city - 08.05.2019

The Pearl of the Black Sea Goes Green - 28.03.2019

Skopje joins EBRD’s Green Cities programme - 27.03.2019

Kiev joins innovative EBRD Green Cities programme - 18.03.2019

EBRD to finance low-emission buses for Skopje - 29.01.2019

Podgorica joins EBRD Green Cities - 20.12.2018

Ulaanbaatar joins EBRD Green Cities - 30.11.2018

Preparing Zenica hospital for the future - 12.10.2018

EBRD and international donors improve solid waste management in Lviv - 01.06.2018

Amman joins EBRD Green Cities programme - 09.05.2018

EBRD’s Green Cities Framework kicks off in Minsk - 04.05.2018

Green buses on the streets of green city Tbilisi - 19.12.2017

EBRD puts on the heating in Banja Luka 13.11.2017

Tbilisi Green City Action Plan approved by local authorities - 29.09.2017

EBRD and multi-donor E5P fund to finance electric “green” buses for Batumi - 14.07.2017

EBRD provides €25 million loan to Sarajevo water - 11.05.2017

Show us your green #EBRDcity - 21.03.2017

Making Chisinau greener - 06.12.2016

How to become a Green City - 17.10.2016

Cities delivering climate action – COP26 and beyond - 08-09.06.2021

Warsaw Green City Action Plan Series of Stakeholder Workshops - 17.05.2021

Dushanbe Green City Action Plan First Stakeholder Workshop - 18.05.2021

Pristina Green City Action Plan Actions Workshop - 28.04.2021

Mariupol Green City Action Plan: Launch event and first stakeholder workshop - 29.04.2021

Khmelnytskyi Green City Action Plan: Launch event and first stakeholder workshop - 28.04.2021

Green City Action Plan for Novi Sad Workshop Notification - 28.04.2021

Split Green City Action Plan kick-off meeting - 26.04.2021

Varna Green City Action Plan Stakeholder Workshops - 09.04.2021

Balti workshop on prioritising environmental challenges - 18.03.2021

EBRD Green Cities and GEI Webinar: Women Leading on Green - 11.03.2021

Warsaw Green City and Climate Action Plan (GCCAP) Launch Event - 03.12.2020

EBRD Green Cities Webinar #6: Creating Green Resilience in Cities - 24.11.2020

EBRD Green Cities Webinar: Hand in Hand – Green and Inclusive Recovery - 20.10.2020

EBRD Green Cities Webinar: Green Cities - smart solutions - 07.10.2020

Varna GCAP Public Consultation - 28.09.20 to 30.09.20

2020 Annual Assembly of ICLEI Taiwan Members & Sustainable City Forum - 29.07.2020

EBRD Green Cities Webinar: a Green Frontier - 01.07.2020

Pristina GCAP Public Consultation - 05.06.20 & 08/09.06.20

EBRD Green Cities Webinar: Transition to Recovery - 09.06.2020

Sofia GCAP Public Consultation - 27.04 - 27.05.2020

Sarajevo GCAP Public Consultation - 26.03 - 30.04.2020

World Urban Forum: EBRD Green Cities Linking Planning, Technology and Investment - 11.02.2020

Skopje GCAP Implementation - 24.01.2020

COP25 Event: EBRD Green Cities delivering policy and investments to scale up climate finance

Craiova GCAP Launch - 3.10.2019

Pristina GCAP Launch - 24.09.2019

Amman Green Actions Planning- 22.07.2019

Banja Luka GCAP Implementation - 11.07.2019

Ulaanbaatar Green Actions Planning - 27.06.2019

Sarajevo Green Actions Planning - 11.06.2019

Sarajevo Green City Action Plan Launch - 12.02.2019

Amman Prioritisation of Green Challenges - 11-12.06.2019

Minsk Green Actions Planning - 05.06.2019

Gyumri Green Actions Planning - 05.06.2019

Lviv Green Actions Planning - 29.05.2019

Batumi Green Actions Planning - 22.05.2019

Izmir GCAP Kick-Off Meeting - 2.05.2019

EBRD Green Cities: Building a better and more sustainable future for cities - 04.07.2019

Chisinau Green Actions Planning - 19.4.2019

Lviv Prioritisation of Green Challenges - 17.4.2019

Sarajevo Prioritisation of Green Challenges - 16.04.2019

Banja Luka Green Actions Planning - 12.04.2019

Sofia Green Actions Planning - 10.04.2019

Zenica Green Actions Planning - March 27 - 29 2019

Skopje GCAP Kick-Off Meeting - 27.03.2019

EBRD Sector Strategy Consultations - March 12 – 22 2019

Ulaanbaatar Prioritisation of Green Challenges- 06.03.2019

Batumi Prioritisation of Green Challenges- 28.02.2019

Amman GCAP Launch - 25.02.2019

Sarajevo GCAP Launch - 12.02.2019