WRI Ross Center
for Sustainable Cities
Building cities that are good for people, nature and the climate.
More than half the world’s population lives in cities. Urban areas are engines of economic growth and innovation — but they also drive rising inequality, ecosystem destruction and climate change.
Over the next 30 years, 2.5 billion people and as many as 1 billion more vehicles will be added to urban centers. Three-quarters of the infrastructure that will exist in cities by 2050 has yet to be built. And the latest science shows that all cities must be carbon neutral by mid-century to have a chance of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees C and averting the worst impacts of climate change.
Cities are at a critical inflection point: Decisions made today will determine whether we continue on a path of fractured, unsafe, polluting growth, or succeed in creating a sustainable, resilient, more inclusive future.
of global GDP is produced in cities
of energy-related emissions come from cities
city dwellers lack reliable access to at least one core service, like housing, water or electricity
of Asia's GDP is lost every year due to traffic congestion
Through WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, we aim to transform the way cities are planned and designed to ensure that urban development benefits people, nature and the climate. Through creative and sustainable local partnerships, we help decision-makers navigate competing tensions so they can adapt and harness the benefits of systemic change.
Our network of local and international experts work in more than 150 cities across 75 countries. We produce practical, data-driven research on how fast-growing urban areas can deliver core services like transport, housing, clean water and sanitation to all residents while simultaneously restoring nature and stabilizing the climate. We work hand-in-hand with local leaders to advance solutions ranging from electric mobility to resilient water systems to better public transit and urban land use. And we forge long-term partnerships and coalitions to ensure that cities not only create change but sustain it.
Synthesizing six years of research, this culminating report of the Towards a More Equal City series recommends seven crucial transformations that can create a new dynamic for durable, cross-sectoral, city-wide change. It also offers a set of priority actions for city and national governments, civil society, the private sector, international aid agencies and financial institutions.