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IR Insider is a production of NYU's International Relations Society. Our goal is to explain and discuss issues in IR in an engaging and thought-provoking fashion. We are written by students, for students, about issues students care about. 

Green Cities Across the Globe

Good governance and leadership at the municipal level, holistic approaches applied to environmental policies, civic engagement, and the right technology are just some of the qualities that can make a city more environmentally conscious, according to The Green City Index. This research series, conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit and sponsored by Siemens, analyzed 120 different cities to focus on urban environmental sustainability while also benchmarking superior environmental practices. The findings provided insight on how efficient and effective environmental practices can be attained worldwide. Below are three major cities that ranked as a prime green city.

 Photo Courtesy:Mstyslav Chernov

Photo Courtesy:Mstyslav Chernov

Copenhagen, Denmark

This city ranks at the top of green cities in Europe for its ambitious goal-setting in CO2 reductions and its energy efficient systems. In 2009, the city set a goal to become CO2 neutral by 2025. If accomplished, Copenhagen would become the first major city in the world to do so.  These CO2 reductions would be accomplished through construction and renovation projects, including an effort to make all municipal buildings meet energy efficient requirements. Additionally, Copenhagen is home to an effective and efficient public transportation system that virtually all residents have relatively easy access to. Many commuters also travel by bike, also helping in reducing carbon emissions.

 Photo: Eduardo PA/ Getty Images

Photo: Eduardo PA/ Getty Images

Curitiba, Brazil

Curitiba is “the birthplace of bus rapid transit (BRT) and Brazil’s first major pedestrian-only street,” according to The Green City Index. Their effective recycling system can also attribute for the city’s high ranking for green cities in Latin America. Residents separate materials (such as glass, paper, and plastic) from each other while the city picks up the waste from households three times a week. Additionally, Curitiba conducts an ongoing study about the CO2 absorption rates in Curitiba’s green spaces and evaluates the city’s CO2 emissions.

 Photo Courtesy: Getty Images

Photo Courtesy: Getty Images

Singapore

The standard set for recycling and reducing waste characterizes Singapore’s high environmental standards. On average, a person in Singapore generates about 307 kilograms of waste annually, compared to the Asian index average of 380 kilograms. The government set a goal of recycling 65 percent of its waste in 2020 (in 2008, it recycled 56 percent), and they distribute recycling bags and bins to households in order to accomplish that goal. One-fifth of the city’s water supply also comes from water-reclamation plants, where wastewater is treated and made potable through the processes of reverse osmosis, microfiltration, and ultraviolet technology.