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Statement September 18, 2019

São Paulo Statement on Urban Sustainability: A Call to Integrate Our Responses to Climate Change, Biodiversity Loss, and Social Inequality

However, cities also concentrate resource use, consuming two-thirds of global energy and accounting for more than 70% of greenhouse gas emissions, despite being home to 55% of the world’s population. While compact and connected cities use fewer resources, unplanned growth and urban sprawl can intensify emissions.

At the same time, cities are vulnerable to climate change. Global temperature rise will roll back decades of development gains, pushing 100 million people into poverty by 2030.

The extinction of species further threatens the loss of ecosystems essential to human development, eroding the foundation of our shared livelihood, society’s ability for adaptation, quality of life, and nature’s capacity to store carbon.

Integrated solutions to urban development and social inequality that mitigate climate change and avoid biodiversity loss can create opportunities for cities to deliver growth that is green, low carbon and competitive; and to build societies that are resilient, inclusive, and livable.

Cities are recognized as part of the solution to climate change under the Paris Agreement. The post-2020 biodiversity framework proposed for adoption in Kunming will elevate the ambition of cities to respond to biodiversity loss. An integrated response can further support cities and local governments in actively supporting the objectives agreed to by their national governments.

Each city’s challenges are unique; however, many have implemented one or more of the following in their efforts to develop their own integrated solutions:

  • Setting low emission targets with the goal to become carbon neutral;
  • Developing and implementing local biodiversity action plans to conserve and enhance urban biodiversity and urban protected areas;
  • Integrating climate and biodiversity information into spatial planning, while investing in compact and connected urban development;
  • Bringing nature close to people by restoring connectivity and green corridors between urban areas, the surrounding landscapes, and protected areas;
  • Championing social inclusion while addressing solutions to climate change, biodiversity loss, and economic development;
  • Promoting nature-based solutions to enhance ecosystem functions, expand green urban infrastructure, and increase urban resilience. 

Cities are invited to express support for the Statement by taking action, recording, developing, and sharing solutions relevant to their unique contexts. Signing the statement, while not a requirement, allows the opportunity to recognize cities that are global leaders in urban sustainability. 

(This statement was announced at the "Catalyzing Sustainable Urban Futures" conference in São Paulo on September 18, 2019. The conference is organized by the Global Platform for Sustainable Cities (GPSC) with the support support of the Global Environment Facility (GEF), São Paulo City Hall, and the Sustainable Cities Program.)


Mariana Ceratti (in Portuguese/English)
+55 (61) 9-9966-3907
Andy Shuai Liu (in English)
+1 (202) 294 9093