A coalition of more than 80 of the world’s major cities has launched an initiative, called the “Coalition for Urban Transitions” to achieve sustainable development and work toward goals set by the Paris Agreement.

The Coalition was formed by New Climate Economy and the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, which includes Sydney and Melbourne. New Climate Economy is a project set up by several countries, including the UK, Sweden and Norway, to provide independent advice on ways of reducing the risk of dangerous climate change.

Cities are powerhouses of the global economy, driving national productivity and development. In 2015, about 85% of global GDP was generated in cities.

Research by New Climate Economy has found that investing in public transportation and developing efficient waste management systems in cities would unlock $17 trillion-worth of economic dividend by 2050 from energy savings. C40 experts say this is only a fraction of the huge benefits which could come from boosting climate-friendly urban growth and developing a comprehensive low-carbon infrastructure in cities.

Speaking at the launch of the Coalition, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, called on cities to reduce emissions and on businesses to invest in green technologies. “I have been looking forward to this event”, he said “because it is about solutions – innovation and imagination; collaboration and partnerships between the public and private sectors.”

Writing in support of the initiative, Michael Bloomberg former New York City mayor, Eduardo Paes mayor of Rio de Janiero and and Anne Hildalgo mayor of Paris, pointed out that “Those efforts will save lives, because air pollution contributes to more than 10,000 premature deaths each day. Mass transit can help reduce traffic accidents, and also increase economic activity by reducing congestion.”

Australians will have an opportunity to hear about initiatives towards making cities more energy efficient and low-carbon at the upcoming Renewable Cities Forum to be held at the Australian Technology Park in Sydney on June 1 and 2.

The Forum will be opened by Simon Corbell, Deputy Chief Minister of the ACT, who has recently announced plans for Canberra to become 100% renewable by 2020.