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Reports 21 May 2015

Citystates II

The Case for Corporate Leadership in Urban Sustainability

By Chris Guenther and Mohammed Al-Shawaf

Daunting challenges – from climate change to food and water security, from nutrition and public health to inequality and social exclusion – confront global cities today. But an exciting range of solutions – from distributed power generation and multi-modal transportation networks to compact development, urban farming and smart cities – is emerging also. Bringing these and other innovations to scale will be crucial for ensuring both the future of individual cities and broader sustainable development.

Getting there will require engaged effort by city governments, the private sector, NGOs, community organizations, universities and citizens. Leaders in these groups are already collaborating with one another in key cities around the world. However, given the pace and scale of change required, what is happening so far is only the beginning.

Bringing exciting solutions and innovations to scale will be crucial for ensuring both the future of cities and broader sustainable development.

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SustainAbility is focused on the role of the private sector in sustainable development. We believe that aligning the sustainability efforts of global companies and cities might bring unique benefits for both. For cities: the chance to extend their reach through a cadre of highly focused, influential partners capable of innovating and mobilizing others. For companies: opportunities to deepen relationships with customers and stakeholders, to experiment with radically new products, services and business models, and to extend and enhance their positive environmental and social impacts.

This second report in our Citystates series explores the opportunity side of this agenda, focusing especially on the case for more companies to take a bolder leadership stance, and providing insight and tools to further accelerate activity in this arena.

We thank our sponsors and partners, colleagues and other advisors, and especially the many experts who generously shared their time and insight to shape our thinking. And, as ever, we welcome your feedback and further thoughts.

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