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WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities

By 2030, the world’s cities are expected to add 1.5 billion people, up to 1 billion cars, and build more urban area than all of humanity has built throughout history. The majority of this growth will occur in the developing world.

Recognizing this urgency, WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities galvanizes action that will help cities grow more sustainably and improve quality of life in developing countries around the world. The Center will increase our reach in established and emerging cities, building on the work of our EMBARQ mobility initiative created in 2002.

WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities was established in 2014 following a $30.5 million contribution from Stephen M. Ross Philanthropies. Today, WRI has more than 200 staff and experts focused on making cities more sustainable, 80 percent of whom work on the ground in 50 cities in Brazil, China, India, Mexico, and Turkey in 2015.

Read more about WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities.

Read more about the WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities (PDF).

Our Vision

WRI envisions a world in which all cities are sustainable environments for people and economies to thrive. To that end, WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities aims to influence 200+ cities by 2019, helping them become more accessible, healthy, equitable, and resilient.

This work will unlock the potential for cities in emerging economies to become powerful engines for social, economic, and environmental progress that improve citizens’ quality of life.

Our Approach

WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities builds upon WRI’s successful track record in urban activities, introducing game-changing solutions that create more prosperous, livable cities. Our approach translates rigorous research into tangible practice at the scale and pace cities in the developing world need, leveraging a global network of trusted experts in urban economics, engineering, planning, finance, and policy.

We work closely with leading financial, business, and city institutions—like the World Bank and Regional Development Banks, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), C40 Cities, ICLEI, and UN-HABITAT—to expand our influence and expedite the shift to sustainable cities. Through these partnerships, we provide objective information and practical proposals for policy and institutional change. WRI partnered with the WBCSD to introduce the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, the “gold standard” for greenhouse gas accounting; with General Electric, Goldman Sachs, and the Aqueduct Alliance on Aqueduct, an interactive tool to evaluate water risks; and with the world’s largest multilateral development banks to secure a $175 billion, 10-year commitment to investing in sustainable mobility.

WRI’s unique approach positions us to fill the gap between knowledge and practice, creating tangible impact on the ground. We monitor this impact and tap into our network of partners to scale up our successful pilot projects globally. Through a mix of deep engagement, targeted influence, and dissemination of tools and best practices, we turn ideas into action to advance the sustainability of cities worldwide. More at

Recent Top Outcomes

160 Cities Adopt Bus Rapid Transit—A Key Tipping Point

Government of Mexico Introduces Latin America’s First-Ever Fuel-Efficiency Standard for Light Duty Vehicles

60 Cities and Communities Use New Standard to Measure and Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Our Global Reach

See more of our Cities and Transport work:

CIties in Focus | Mexico City Metrobús

Snapshot | Martita

Big Ideas | Ahmedabad

See also our press release.

Photo credit: Charlton Clemens/Flickr

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