July 2012: The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) unveiled a new initiative that “aims to reduce pollution levels, improve resource efficiency and reduce infrastructure costs in cities across the world. Launched at the Rio+20 summit in Brazil, the Global Initiative for Resource-Efficient Cities will work with local and national governments, the private sector and civil society groups to promote energy efficient buildings, efficient water use, sustainable waste management and other activities.
“In a rapidly urbanizing world, cities are increasingly becoming the focus of international sustainability efforts. Up to 80 percent of the world population is expected to reside in cities by 2050. Today, urban areas account for 50 percent of all waste, generate 60-80 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions and consume 75 percent of natural resources, yet occupy only 3 percent of the Earth’s surface.”