New commitment to WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities brings total gift to $100 million

WASHINGTON (December 7, 2020) — WRI is pleased to announce that business leader and philanthropist Stephen M. Ross has committed $63.5 million to support WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, bringing his total contribution to the program to $100 million, to make cities worldwide more resilient, inclusive and sustainable.

The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the vulnerabilities that cities face at the frontlines. The pandemic has exacerbated underlying social and economic inequalities with the biggest impacts on the poorest and most marginalized communities. As they look toward recovery, these funds will help to create stronger, safer cities that reduce inequity and foster broad-based economic growth.

“Now, more than ever, it is clear that our future depends on building more resilient cities that provide for the needs of people and can respond to risks, including from climate change,” said Ross, who is chairman of New York-based Related Companies and a board member of World Resources Institute. “I am proud of the work that WRI Ross Center has done to improve how cities are designed and focus on the benefits cities can bring to the environment and people. Now is the time to build on this foundation to bring sustainable cities to more people.”

Established in 2014, WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities is WRI’s program dedicated to shaping a future where cities work better for everyone. Through a network of more than 350 experts working in cities from Brazil, China, Ethiopia, India, Mexico and Turkey, it helps create accessible, equitable, healthy and resilient urban areas for people, businesses and the environment to thrive.

“This truly transformative gift from Stephen comes at a time when we see how fragile our urban systems really are,” said Andrew Steer, President and CEO of WRI. “We need to create cities that can help people – physically, economically and socially – to better withstand threats now and in the future. We need to ensure that cities are designed to be more inclusive and equitable to help improve the lives of the most vulnerable and marginalized in our society.”

Since its inception, WRI Ross Center has catalyzed and accelerated numerous transformative urban initiatives including road safety laws in India; electric mobility in Colombia and Mexico; low-carbon cities in Chengdu and Qingdao, China; renewable energy development in Bangalore; and more equitable access to transportation in Mexico City. Collectively, WRI Ross Center has helped cities avoid 8.8 million tons of CO2 emissions – roughly equivalent to removing 1.8 million cars from roads for one year.

A longtime supporter of the World Resources Institute, Ross helped establish WRI Ross Center and NUMO, the New Urban Mobility alliance, with contributions of $36.5 million. NUMO, which is hosted at WRI Ross Center, is focused on leveraging the technological revolution to improve mobility.

“Stephen’s vision and support has led to major outcomes in critical areas over the last six years, and this commitment will allow us to expand our impact to even more people across the globe,” said Ani Dasgupta, Global Director of WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities. “We have to support cities to weather the current health and economic crisis, but also to build back better, shifting the trajectory of urban development to low-carbon, resilient, more equitable growth.”

With his support, WRI Ross Center launched the Prize for Cities in 2018 to inspire urban change-makers across the globe by elevating trailblazing initiatives and telling impactful stories of sustainable urban transformation. The inaugural $250,000 prize was awarded to an easily replicable and highly impactful approach to creating safer journeys to school for children in Dar es Salaam and other African cities.

“Stephen’s commitment to sustainable cities is inspiring. His generosity will ensure we have the resources to continue developing the most innovative solutions to our urban problems,” said James A. Harmon, Chairman, Caravel Management LLC and Chairman of WRI’s Board of Directors.

About World Resources Institute 

WRI is a global research organization that spans more than 60 countries, with international offices in Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico and the United States, regional offices in Ethiopia (for Africa) and the Netherlands (for Europe), and program offices in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Turkey and the United Kingdom. Our more than 1,000 experts and staff turn big ideas into action at the nexus of environment, economic opportunity and human well-being. More information at

About WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities 

WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities is the World Resources Institute’s program dedicated to shaping a future where cities work better for everyone. It enables more connected, compact and coordinated cities. The Center expands the transport and urban development expertise of the EMBARQ network to catalyze innovative solutions in other sectors, including air quality, water, buildings, land use and energy. It combines the research excellence of WRI with two decades of on-the-ground impact through a network of more than 350 experts working from Brazil, China, Ethiopia, India, Mexico, Turkey and the United States to make cities around the world better places to live. More information at