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A global inventory from sustainable urban development


Urban solutions for a living planet
A global inventory from sustainable urban development

The aim of the Urban solutions project is to support learning about, and action toward sustainable cities. Our vision is a future where we all live well within the capacity of one living planet – in other words, a One Planet Future. WWF's work for sustainable cities is part of our larger efforts to meet global meta-goals of sustainable development. 

In this project, WWF has studied and catalogued real examples of how cities are approaching the need to minimize their ecological footprints and protect ecosystem services and biodiversity. We can think of no better motivator than the inspiring examples provided by these learning cases, which highlight how cities are working, in real life and in real time, to reduce their footprints and protect biodiversity and ecosystem services. 

Explore via themes

How can cities adapt water, air, mobility, or building systems to reduce ecological footprints and protect biodiversity? The answers begin with these learning cases, organised around 13 vital themes: air, water, food, ecosystem services and biodiversity, housing and buildings, mobility and accessibility, consumption, waste and sinks, energy, climate change mitigation, climate change adaptation, governance and citizenship, and resilience.

The focus of the learning cases is on human needs – with high priority given to biodiversity and ecosystem services, key elements of WWF's mission.

Selection and focus

The selection of learning cases is diverse and international, focused on positive examples of cities where smart ideas have been implemented and concrete results have been reported. We have focused on learning cases rather than ”best practices” for several reasons. It is often difficult to claim with certainty that a case is the current best practice, as the field is rapidly changing. Further, learning points are process-oriented and dynamic, and can support the expansion of ideas in different contexts. Finally, it is important to avoid the impression that there are definitive “best practices” out there – so sustainable that more innovation and learning are not needed. Instead, we work with the conviction that our learning cases can and should continue to foster rapid and creative action in cities worldwide.

Thank you

WWF wishes to thank the many people who have contributed information: Carl-Johan Engström (Global utmaning), Anna Hult, (Royal Institute of Technology), Jeffrey Kenworthy and Peter Newman (Curtin University), Göran Finnveden (Royal Institute of Technology), Lars J. Nilsson, Per Svenningsson and Elisabeth Dahlholm Hornyanszky (Lund Institute of Technology), Stefan Anderberg (Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies), Norman Duke (James Cook University), Angela Espenberger (International Passive House Association, iPHA), Andrea Broaddus (University of California, Berkeley), Thierry Goger and Carmencita Malimban (European Cooperation in Science and Technology, COST), Jessica Morris (Institute for Transportation & Development Policy), Gael Leopold (WWF International), Karin Wessman (Senior Consultant), Lisen Schultz (Stockholm Resilience Centre), Peter Rahtje (ProjectZero, Sønderborg), Jennie Organ (BioRegional), and the Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management.

With special thanks to John Manoochehri, Martin Jacobson, Aaron Thomas, Sven Björnekull, April Streeter, Daniel Moran, Jennifer Hinton, Rhoda Kachali, Chad Boda, and Tobias Abrahamsson for their work on the project.

Background to the project

WWF Sweden has taken the initiative to this project called Urban solutions for a living planet. Starting in 2010 over 100 learning cases has been produced between 2011-2015 including a Summary report in 2013. For a selection of 0lder cases, please visit our Archive. Starting from 2017 the Urban solutions portal has been updated and now contains over 40 new learning cases from around the world.


The contents of this inventory may contain opinions and statements from various sources related to sustainable urban development around the globe. Neither WWF nor its affiliates, nor any of their respective agents, employees, information providers or content providers, shall be liable for any inaccuracy, error, omission, interruption, deletion, defect, alteration of or use of any content herein, or for its timeliness or completeness.

The Urban solutions project has been financed by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, Sida. Sida does not necessarily share the views expressed in this material. Responsibility for its contents rests entirely with the author.

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