Urban Transformation

City streets ranked, low-carbon building trends and other urban transformation stories you need to read

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Currently, 7,600 companies worldwide have committed to reaching net-zero emissions by 2050. Image: Unsplash/Alice Donovan Rouse

Lisa Chamberlain
Communication Lead, Urban Transformation, World Economic Forum
  • This monthly round-up brings you some of the latest news on cities and urbanization.
  • Top city and urbanization stories: Demand for low-carbon buildings is rising; The coolest streets in the world revealed; Ukraine looks ahead to post-war tourism.
  • For more on the World Economic Forum’s city-focused work, visit the Centre for Urban Transformation.

1. Demand for low-carbon buildings rising – report

The demand for low-carbon buildings is expected to rise in the next two years, according to a report from real-estate company JLL, as companies with emissions reduction commitments seek greener alternatives when renewing their leases.

With more companies aiming to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, there will be a growing need to reduce emissions tied to their offices and factories, leading to a higher demand for more energy-efficient buildings.

JLL's Global Head of Sustainability Services and ESG, Guy Grainger, said "time is of the essence" for the real estate industry to act on decarbonization, as investments failing to do so may become economically obsolete in the years to come.

Currently, 7,600 companies worldwide have committed to reaching net-zero emissions by 2050, Reuters reports, with one-third of leases tied to carbon commitments set to expire in less than 24 months.

Low-carbon occupational requirements vs development pipeline.
Demand for low-carbon buildings will outstrip supply. Image: JLL

2. 'Coolest streets' in the world's best cities ranked

High Street Melbourne has topped TimeOut's ranking of the 30 coolest streets in the world's best cities.

Hollywood Road, Hong Kong SAR; East Eleventh, Austin, US; Guatemala Street, Buenos Aires, Argentina; and Commercial Drive, Vancouver, Canada, complete the top five.

Street life has gone through something of an evolution in the past few years, says the travel publication.

"Outdoor drinking and dining, at one point a temporary measure, has become a staple on many of the streets on our hotlist; only bolstered by green initiatives like pedestrianization and low-traffic avenues.

"In other words, these streets have become much more walkable and pleasant places to spend our time."

As urbanization continues apace, data insights will become increasingly important for urban planners to help design sustainable, liveable cities.

The World Economic Forum's Global Future Council on Cities of Tomorrow has an insight report on Data for the City of Tomorrow, which shows how big data analysis can help make cities more vibrant, inclusive and climate smart.


How is the World Economic Forum supporting the development of cities and communities globally?

3. News in brief: Other top city and urbanization stories this month

Ukraine's state tourism agency has finalized agreements with travel companies like Airbnb, Expedia and VisitBerlin to promote the country as a tourist destination post-war. Head of the State Agency for Tourism Development, Mariana Oleskiv, disclosed plans for a war sites route from Irpin to Chernobyl, passing through cities such as Bucha and Hostomel.

Dubrovnik in Croatia is implementing a plan to attract locals back who have been priced out by high tourist prices. The city is due to ban new private rental permits from April, following in the footsteps of other popular European destinations.

New home prices in China increased at a slightly slower pace in February compared to the previous month, according to data from China Index Academy. The average new home price in 100 cities rose by 0.14%, down from the 0.15% increase in January. Nine fewer cities reported home price growth in February.

Alphabet's Waymo has started to offer free driverless robotaxi services in Los Angeles, after the California Public Utilities Commission approved its bid to start its ride-hailing programme, Waymo One. The company already operates in San Francisco and Phoenix and has started autonomous services for its employees in Austin, Texas. It plans to offer Waymo One to the broader public in Austin later in the year.

4. More on urban transformation on Agenda

Fifteen urban centres have outlined zero-carbon urban plans in the 2024 Reinventing Cities competition run by global city mayor network C40. Bilbao, New York, São Paulo and Venice are among the participating cities, and regeneration projects include a circular economy campus using rooftops to grow food and a 17th-century fortress run as a low-carbon community site.

Around the world, air pollution kills 13 people every minute – many of them in cities. But these locations are now taking action to cut air pollution, improve health and make them better places to live, write Shirley Rodrigues, London's Deputy Mayor for Environment & Our Common Air Commissioner, Iyad Kheirbek, Director of the C40 group's Air Quality Program, and Magdalena Młochowska, Director Coordinator of Green Warsaw.

Multiple factors are needed for a smart and sustainable city, such as social cohesion, human capital and economic performance. The IESE Business School, has published its annual ranking of the top smart and sustainable cities. This year, it is led by European and US locations, but many cities from elsewhere perform strongly against individual measures.

1. Demand for low-carbon buildings rising – report2. 'Coolest streets' in the world's best cities ranked3. News in brief: Other top city and urbanization stories this month 4. More on urban transformation on Agenda

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