$9m global city challenge to reduce carbon and improve access launched

Pictured are Hong Kong, LA and Bangkok.

Adapting cities to the future by reducing carbon, improving access and more resilient transport systems is the aim of a new $9m global challenge.

The Toyota Mobility Foundation, in partnership with Challenge Works and World Resources Institute, has launched the Sustainable Cities Challenge to unite cities and innovators to improve the lives of people by increasing access to jobs, education and other essential services.

Ryan Klem, director of programs at the Toyota Mobility Foundation, said: “Our experience over the past decade has underscored the importance of the local city’s buy-in and engagement with our activities. Throughout the Sustainable Cities Challenge, we are looking to come alongside cities to find innovative solutions in the areas they identify as critical to develop a scalable model for the cities of tomorrow.” 

Entry to the first stage of the challenge is open to city leaders and municipal governments, transport departments and other related local and regional agencies. Entries should be submitted according to one or more of the following three themes: 

•Expanding access to safe, affordable, and inclusive modes of transportation.

•Harnessing the power of data to create connected and resilient mobility ecosystems.

•Reducing environmental impact through low-carbon and renewable energy solutions.

Shortlisted cities will be invited to attend a capacity building academy in the US and will receive support developing their challenge design, becoming part of a wider network of other innovative city teams. 

In February 2024, three winning cities will be selected to host a City Challenge to attract entries from global innovators. Innovators could be homegrown - living in the city or country chosen - or may be from anywhere across the globe, but with solutions applicable and adapted to the winning cities. 

The winning innovators for each city will be announced in late 2024, and the cities and innovators will share $9m in funding to test and roll out their solutions.

The Sustainable Cities Challenge is funded by the Toyota Mobility Foundation and has been designed in partnership with Challenge Works and World Resources Institute. Challenge Works is an international leader in developing challenge programmes to drive new thinking and find creative solutions to problems facing society. World Resources Institute is a global research organisation which works with partners to develop practical solutions that improve people’s lives and ensure that nature can thrive.

Kathy Nothstine, head of Future Cities at Challenge Works, said: “Brilliant people all over the world are working hard to create innovative solutions to help mobility systems work better, and with a lower carbon footprint. The Sustainable Cities Challenge will help those innovators interface with cities to test and adapt solutions according to local needs to improve people's lives. Challenges like this can act as catalysts for change by accelerating innovation in real world settings.”

In addition to helping cities decarbonise, transforming mobility systems will help cities become more inclusive and accessible for the people living in them. Currently, 1.2 billion people living in cities do not have access to one or more core services.

Ben Welle, director of Integrated Transport and Innovation at World Resources Institute’s Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, said: “Cities are in need of innovations to foster sustainable mobility that reduces emissions, improves health, and increases access to jobs and opportunity for all. The Sustainable Cities Challenge is an excellent opportunity for cities globally to build capacity and support innovators to work hand in hand with officials.”

To find out more and to enter, click here.

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