Global Platform for Sustainable Cities

November 11, 2016


  • Led by the World Bank, the Global Platform for Sustainable Cities (GPSC) is a forum for knowledge sharing and partnership to achieve urban sustainability.
  • The GPSC promotes an integrated approach to urban development, focusing on urban sustainability indicators, planning, and financing.
  • Visit the official website of the GPSC at

For the latest updates on the GPSC, visit its official website at

The world is urbanizing at a rapid pace. Already more than half of the global population lives in cities, and this number is expected to increase to two thirds of the global population by 2050. The vast majority of this growth will be concentrated in developing countries, with nearly 90% of the increase occurring in Asian or African cities.

In addition, cities are responsible for two-thirds of the world’s overall energy consumption and an estimated 70% of all greenhouse gas emissions. With developing countries experiencing unprecedented urban growth, efforts to build livable and sustainable cities are hampered by mounting challenges in areas like water supply and sanitationwaste management, transport infrastructure and services, energy supply, as well as climate change.

Cities around the world are in urgent need of effective planning and financing strategies to meet these challenges. Integrated urban planning offers a unique opportunity for cities to realign their growth trajectories onto a more sustainable, resilient, and inclusive path.




Against this backdrop, the Global Platform for Sustainable Cities (GPSC) was launched in March 2016 as part of the Sustainable Cities Integrated Approach Pilot (SC IAP) supported by the Global Environment Facility (GEF). The GPSC provides a more holistic approach to urban development rather than through a sectorial or “project-by-project” approach. Specifically, the GPSC supports the following activities:

  • Using geospatial data and tools to support integrated urban planning;
  • Developing GPSC national planforms to enable public access to reliable and accurate location-based information;
  • Establishing and enhancing urban sustainability indicators in close alignment with the UN Sustainable Development Goal 11;
  • Implementing a diagnostic process to assess cities’ sustainability status;
  • Preparing and implementing action plans to facilitate planning for sustainable urban growth;
  • Providing capacity building opportunities to improve municipal finances and city creditworthiness, as well as to identify priorities for urban investment; and
  • Delivering workshops and trainings at regional and national levels to share knowledge and experience among client cities.

GPSC Support to Participating Cities with Partnership Organizations



The GPSC covers around 30 cities across 11 pilot countries: Brazil, China, Cote d’Ivoire, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Senegal, South Africa, and Vietnam. Each country is supported with designated GEF grants that are executed by one or several implementing agencies (for more information on the participating cities and their activities, see GPSC Program Booklet).

As a core component of the program, an Urban Sustainability Framework (USF) is being developed in collaboration with partner organizations. The USF streamlines existing indicators and enables cities to select indicators suitable for achieving their policy objectives. It contains five components: 1) sustainability indicators, 2) diagnostic process, 3) sustainability action plan, 4) financing and investment, and 5) process for implementing the framework. Serving as an overarching guidance document for supporting cities to pursue integrated approach, USF will facilitate implementation of existing GPSC-IAP programs as well as support cities for the new round of participation. An official launch of USF is scheduled in the second quarter of 2017. 



To foster knowledge sharing and to promote discussions on the program and sustainable urban development in general, GPSC also launched its Community of Practice in October 2016. As an inclusive global platform, the GPSC is open to involving other interested cities, organizations, and practitioners in its activities and learning events.

" Linking knowledge to finance is critical to directing investment flows to quality and sustainability. We see this platform as a great opportunity to connect cities not only to cutting-edge knowledge, but also to development banks and financial institutions. "

Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez

Senior Director of the World Bank’s Social, Urban, Rural, and Resilience Global Practice

" If planned and managed well, compact, resilient, inclusive, and resource-efficient cities can drive development, growth, and the creation of jobs, while also contributing to a healthier, better quality of life for residents and the long-term protection of the global environment. "

Naoko Ishii

GEF CEO and Chairperson

GPSC and climate change

Cities are hotspots for global emissions and climate vulnerability. In the last decade or so, the World Bank commitments for cities has almost doubled, to an annual average of $4.11 billion (FY09–13). The urban strategy aims to ensure that urbanization is managed for resilient, inclusive, and sustainable growth. As part of the World Bank Group’s new Climate Change Action Plan, the GPSC serves as a key knowledge platform to connect and support cities to integrate climate into urban planning. On November 11 2016, the World Bank and the U.S. state of California signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) during the UN Conference of the Parties on Climate Change (COP22) to support low-carbon city efforts in China and other countries, with California being a technical partner under the GPSC.

Learn more

To learn more about the program, please view:

  • First Meeting of GPSC in Singapore (March 2016): The First Meeting of the GPSC brought together around 30 subnational governments and over 200 participants from developed and developing cities, international organizations, and financial institutions for a series of working groups, learning events, and site visits. The event was a great opportunity for knowledge exchange and networking, covering topics from flood risk management, urban indicators and geospatial tools, and transit-oriented development, to climate change and urban finance. Click here for the meeting summary.
  • Second Working Group Meeting of Indicators, Geospatial Tools, and GPSC Urban Sustainability Framework (September 2016): Over 45 participants from cities, partner agencies, and experts from think-tanks participated in the meeting in Frascati, Italy on September 26-28, 2016. Bilateral consultations were conducted with all the cities/governments and their respective agencies on the support GPSC can provide on utilizing geospatial data and implementing the Urban Sustainability Framework. The GPSC Resource Team consisting of C40, ICLEI and, WRI was formed to support the capacity building component of the program.  Click here for the meeting summary.
  • GPSC Program Booklet                                     


The GPSC was designed to coordinate and integrate existing efforts in urban sustainability. As such, the GPSC is implemented by the World Bank Group in close collaboration with a growing network of partners, including:

  • The Global Environment Facility (GEF) (core funding partner): The GEF is a multi-donor trust fund that provides technical assistance and funding to help countries tackle pressing, global environmental issues while supporting national sustainable development initiatives.
  • Implementing agencies that support participating cities: United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), African Development Bank (AfDB), Asian Development Bank (ADB), Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).
  • Other partners: UN-Habitat, World Resources Institute (WRI), C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability, 100 Resilient Cities, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), World Council on City Data (WCCD), European Space Agency (ESA), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP), and Centre for Liveable Cities Singapore (CLC), the state of California, among others.