With more than two-thirds of the region's population residing in urban areas, Europe and Central Asia (ECA) is highly urbanized. City governments and mayors in ECA are quickly recognizing the challenges they face as a direct result of climate change, on-going economic transformations and demographic shifts in their cities. There is increasing pressure on city governments to find sustainable solutions to transforming urban centers into resilient and sustainable communities that benefit city residents personally by reducing energy costs, improving quality of service, reducing waste, providing better urban environments and creating economic opportunities.
The ECA Sustainable Cities Initiative (SCI) is a multi-year program designed to support cities and governmental programs at the national level in pursuing an agenda of enhancing the sustainability of ECA cities. The main premise of SCI is that cities in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (ECA) have an important opportunity to learn from their Western European neighbors, which can provide practical examples and encourage ECA cities to promote policy changes and investments that will help them be better prepared for urban development challenges in the future. SCI aims at encouraging approaches to optimize the economic, financial, social, and environmental sustainability goals of cities in ECA. SCI is organized around four core activities called the Applied Knowledge Framework (AKF) which include: (i) orientation, awareness, and exposure workshops; (ii) development and implementation of local diagnostic tools; (iii) Policy Reforms and Investment Strategies; and (iv) project financing, technical assistance and implementation support. The AKF approach is further applied across 10 sustainable development thematic modules – Historic City Conservation and Regeneration, Energy Efficiency, Brownfield Development, Municipal Finance, Solid Waste Management, Climate Change, Socially Sustainable Development, Urban Transport and Water and Wastewater Module.