By 2050, 70% of the world's population is expected to live in cities. This signifies a critical role for cities in the transition to a sustainable world. They must become more competitive, resource efficient, resilient and inclusive. Solutions often require major infrastructural transformations and optimization of the interlinkages between a city’s buildings, energy, mobility, water and waste management systems and in major behavioural shifts from citizens . Can we address issue of user behavior / engagement of citizens in the above? E.g. For this, the behavior of citizens / users is a critical factor that needs to be addressed in any solutions.

To effectively address the multi-faceted nature of urban sustainability challenges, our work on cities has been focusing on four major projects related to cities: Energy Efficiency in buildings (EEB), Zero Emissions Cities project (ZEC), Sustainable Mobility project (SMP) and Urban Infrastructure project (UII). In total, these projects cover 27 cities worldwide. View presentation.


Habitat III, the third UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development taking place in Quito on 17-20 October 2016, will adopt an outcome document, the New Urban Agenda. Business, along with cities and other stakeholders, will play an important role in implementing this agenda, which itself will be based on the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals, in particular the “urban SDG” (goal no. 11).

The Habitat III secretariat is interested to get private sector involvement in the preparation of this UN conference and in the implementation of its adopted outcome.

As co-chair of UN Habitat’s Urban Private Partnership (UPP) and chair of the Business and Industries group in the Habitat III General Assembly of Partners (GAP) WBCSD will play a critical role in providing private sector input in the run up to the Habitat III conference and in the implementation of the New Urban Agenda.

Interested companies can join to be part of the Habitat III journey (WBCSD members and non-members). Please contact Irge Olga Aujouannet (Aujouannet@wbcsd.org) for more information.

Find out more on  “What is Habitat III?” 

See the Business & Industry Response to New Urban Agenda

See our publication Innovative City-Business Collaboration published in collaboration with ICLEI on new collaborative models with 6 case studies.

Check out the Habitat III official website to stay up to date.


On 24 September 2015 WBCSD organised an Urban Private Partnership (UPP) meeting in New York with Habitat III, UN-Habitat and Arcadis (hosted by GeSi) to discuss the opportunities for the private sector to contribute to Habitat III. Presentation of the Habitat III Urban Agenda process was explained and companies gave their views on how and why they engage towards Habitat III (ARCADIS, Microsoft, Citi). Session summary.

Key outcome of this meeting: Cities are places of opportunity and action, the New Urban Agenda should help cities get the support needed (in terms of governance, finance, and partnerships) to drive more holistic urban development. The private sector should be engaged early and strategically because it can bring important expertise to cities. Interactive forms of collaboration are needed so the private and public sectors learn to better understand and work with each other based on evidence of successful examples. Find out more (with a link to meeting minutes and presentations).

On December 8 2015 WBCSD, together with UN Habitat and Veolia, organised the “Business commitment to Action for Cities and Climate Change toward Habitat III” in Paris. A debate moderated by Nicholas You, Director, Global Partners and Programs, was held between business leaders Eric Lesueur, CEO of 2EI Veolia, Sustainable City Consulting and Innovation, Neil McArthur, CEO of Arcadis and Coen van Oostrom, CEO of OVG Real Estate, three leading firms working in the core business of cities. A representative of local authorities, Monika Zimmermann, Deputy Secretary General of ICLEI, and Henri de Cazotte, Director of the Agence Française de Développement, French Ministry of Foreign Affairs were also convened to the debate in order to voice issues of local authorities and government. Read more.


Energy Efficiency in Buildings (EEB)

Buildings are the largest energy consumers in the world economy, accounting for over one-third of all final energy produced. They also represent approximately 30% of energy-related global carbon emissions. This makes energy efficiency in buildings a critical component of sustainable cities. Read more.

Zero Emissions Cities (ZEC)

Cities currently account for 70 - 80% of all green-house gas emissions. To achieve climate neutrality and bring their sustainability vision to life, an increasing number of cities around the world are committing to deep emissions cuts in the coming decades. This requires fundamental transformations in the supply, distribution, management of energy systems, combined with major behavioural shifts in how citizens, businesses and governments use energy. Read more

Sustainable Mobility Project (SMP)

Safe and energy-efficient movement of goods and people is essential for creating prosperous and resilient cities. It has a positive environmental impact and contributes to economic growth by creating value for businesses and the society. Read more.

Urban Infrastructure Initiative (UII)

Business has a critical role to play as a solution provider for more efficient, sustainable and livable cities. Working with ten leading cities; Turku (Finland), Tilburg (The Netherlands), Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Surat and Vadodara in Gujarat State (India), Yixing (China), Kobe (Japan, Guadalajara (Mexico), and Philadelphia (USA), our UII project provided a platform for collaborative strategic engagement between cities and business.  Read more.


WBCSD and ICLEI join forces to bring city-business collaboration to scale

Partnering is key to support integrated and sustainable urban solutions. It facilitates replication and scaling of solutions. There are many benefits of working with organizations that are leading projects with similar objectives and/or methodologies. It fosters access to city and business networks, allows cost-sharing, gives access to specialists or additional expertise, exchanges best practices and strategies, it can also help facilitate implementation to accelerate pathways to act for a common goal.

Across the various projects on cities and the built environment, WBCSD is partnering with different organizations in different ways:


UN-Habitat (WBCSD chairs UN Habitat Urban Private Partners group)

Arizona State University

C40 Cities

WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities

Climate-KIC Building Technologies Accelerator (member of Steering Committee)

10 Year Framework Plan for Sustainable Buildings and Construction (member of Multi-Stakeholder Advisory Committee)

International Energy Agency

World Green Building Council

Urban Land Institute

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Roland Hunziker
Zero Emissions Cities
Tel : +41 22 839 31 84
Fax : +41 22 839 31 31
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Claudia Schweizer
Project Manager
Sustainable Cities
Tel : +41 22 839 31 50
Fax : +41 22 839 31 31
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