A focus on cities for a sustainable, livable future.

Anybody who has spent time in big cities across the globe will not be surprised to hear that transportation is the fastest growing source of CO2 in the world. Private cars are clogging the streets from Rio de Janeiro to Beijing, releasing catastrophic levels of greenhouse gas emissions, straining economic growth, and compromising our health.

Meanwhile, rapid expansion is occurring in cities around the world, often without proactive, sustainable urban planning to guide growth. Cities worldwide already generate around 80% of global economic output while accounting for 65% of global energy use and 70% of man-made carbon emissions. Nearly all of the world’s population increase over the next few decades will occur in cities, with urban populations expected to rise from 3.6 billion urban residents today to over 6.3 billion in 2050.

The shape of these cities will be a principal determinant of the human prospect, laying the groundwork for either a future in which we continue to develop sustainably while reducing impact on our climate, or grow in a way that assures high consumption and pollution. Cities’ resilience to climate disasters will be set, for better or worse, and the core issues of livability, which depend on intelligent settlement and transportation patterns, will be locked in. Now is a crucial moment to ensure that urban patterns offer a great future for people and our planet.

*Map image: UNICEF Urban Populations 2050

Eight Principles for Sustainable Urban Development

Since 1985, the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) has been working to promote environmentally sustainable and equitable transportation in cities worldwide, guided by Eight Principles for Better Streets and Better Cities.

  1. WALK | Develop neighborhoods that promote walking
  2. CYCLE | Prioritize non-motorized transport networks
  3. CONNECT | Create dense networks of streets and paths
  4. TRANSIT | Locate development near high-quality public transport
  5. MIX | Plan for mixed use
  6. DENSIFY | Optimize density and transit capacity
  7. COMPACT | Create regions with short commutes
  8. SHIFT | Increase mobility by regulating parking and road use

The Sustainable Transport Award

Each year, ITDP and the Sustainable Transport Award Committee select a city that has implemented innovative sustainable transportation projects in the preceding year. These strategies improve mobility for all residents, reduce pollution and GHG emissions, and improve safety and access for cyclists and pedestrians. The winning city and honorable mention is honored at a ceremony in Washington, DC in January. The winning city hosts MOBILIZE later on that year.


MOBILIZE is ITDP’s annual sustainable transport summit, which brings together urban transport and development practitioners alongside world-class researchers to celebrate best practices and accelerate implementation of sustainable transport projects.

What makes MOBILIZE unique is its structure. The summit gives transport professionals and researchers from around the world an opportunity to experience the STA winning city as a learning lab with lessons on how to get world class projects implemented. Interaction between researchers and practitioners foster greater global resource allocation toward the goals of making streets, transport systems, and cities the best possible places for people.

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