Cities are where we build our most ambitious and symbolic structures, where we come together to share experiences and exchange capital, goods and ideas, and where we go in search of a better life.
They will also be ground zero for the collision of economic, environmental and social imperatives that define sustainability.
Cities therefore provide a compelling frame through which to understand and drive sustainability. As models of characteristics such as connectivity, adaptability, decisiveness and experimentation they provide numerous lessons, especially to business, on how to advance the sustainability agenda both within and beyond the city.
SustainAbility has been providing insight about the intersection of the urban, corporate and sustainable development agendas since 2012.
Our first report into the subject was titled Citystates: How Cities Are Vital to the Future of Sustainability. Its premise was that while cities are the epicentre of a host of interrelated sustainability challenges, they also hold huge potential to lead, particularly by fostering the rapid development and dispersion of new ideas, technologies, behaviors and business models that will be fundamental to long-term sustainable development.
Summer 2015 saw us launch our second report, entitled Citystates II: The Case for Corporate Leadership in Urban Sustainability, which makes the case for greater corporate leadership to drive urban sustainability forward and to share in its benefits. It also considers practical challenges to such leadership and provides guidance to companies seeking to amplify their positive influence on this important agenda.
For us this work confirms that cities must become an even greater focal point of sustainable development, and that through nurturing their particular strengths and attributes, we may improve the potential of cities’ own sustainability and that of the planet, all while contributing to a more vibrant economic future.