Our cities produce most of the world’s carbon emissions, and now contribute around 70 % of the world’s CO₂ emissions from energy. What can we do to reduce their impact on the climate and how can International Standards help?

By developing and implementing International Standards for planning and building cities, we can make these changes effective and efficient.

  • UPDATING OUR TRANSPORT – A third of the emissions from cities come from transport. Buses, trains, trams, taxis, cars. A lower-carbon city would be one that supports public transport over individual car use, makes cycling and walking easier, and moves towards electric or biofuel vehicles over petrol and diesel.
  • DATA FOR SMART CITIES – Cities that collect, analyse and make decisions based on data – are set to be the future of urban living. All data can be used to work out what is being used where, and how it can be made more efficient.
  • BUILDING CLIMATE RESILIENCE – They must build better resilience in the face of a changing climate. This could mean repairing natural flooding defences or developing urban agriculture to feed the population more sustainably.
  • SUPPORT FOR CITY LEADERS – Because local governments play a key role in the development of cities, standards aimed at city leaders can be of particular help in driving sustainable development. ISO 37101, for example, can be used by leaders working within the multiple communities that make up a city.
  • RATIONAL APPROACH – ISO standards also keep people at the centre of development, ensuring that, as we build cities for resilience and sustainability, we also build them for health and prosperity. ISO/TC 268’s subcommittee SC 1 on smart community infrastructure, which maintains ISO 37101, is focused on creating local community infrastructure that keeps the environment healthy for the planet and the urban population.

ISO’s committee for sustainable cities and communities is working to develop new urban standards that can help slow climate change. The standards will include frameworks and guidance for planners seeking to develop smart, resilient cities that provide for their population in a sustainable way.

Standards that help cities become more sustainable are also a powerful illustration of ISO’s London Declaration, signed by ISO members across 165 countries: a pledge to ensure that ISO International Standards and technical publications help to accelerate the successful achievement of the Paris Agreement, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the United Nations Call for Action on Adaptation and Resilience.

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