The City Research and Innovation Bridge

The City Research and Innovation Agenda, the updated Global Research and Action Agenda, and the Need-Based Climate Innovation Framework serve unique yet interconnected purposes for driving urban sustainable action. Linking them – and united by the city journey – would allow cities and local governments, national governments, business, civil society, and academia to take action across all policy domains – fulfilling core human needs through solutions that are sustainable, equitable, and feasible.

The City Research and Innovation Bridge connects these agendas and the city journey, linking core human needs to the priority R&I gaps that local practitioners face – and uncovering the policy levers that can enable action. For the first time, the Bridge demonstrates the simultaneous pursuit of core human needs, ambitious climate action, and R&I priorities at city level.
The City Research and Innovation Bridge serves as a resource for sustainability solution providers and demand owners alike – including cities and local governments, national governments, business leaders, academics, and civic groups – who can help fill the gaps using their unique capacities and abilities.

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  1. Identify a strategic approach to retrofitting city building stock based on building typology to reduce emissions.
  2. Quantify emissions and energy savings potential for deep energy retrofits of all buildings within the municipality and incorporation of digital tools to support emission reduction and boost systems’ efficiency.
  3. Develop policy to set new building standards and accelerate uptake of efficiency benchmarks.
  4. Use of social science in engaging a broad group of stakeholders in new initiatives from planning through implementation.
  5. Incorporate informal settlements and their residents in urban planning strategies through active consultation and co-creation.
  6. Explore connections between water, energy, and materials to develop sustainable solutions in urban areas.
  7. Quantify potential and chart implementation pathways for blue/green infrastructure and nature-based solutions to reduce emissions, build adaptive capacity and resilience, provide co-benefits, and address issues of biodiversity.
  8. Assess planning policies and prioritise actions to help mitigate urban heat island effect.
  9. Explore adaptation and resilience in cities through culture and history to better understand their impact on climate action today.
  10. Mainstream climate change action planning into city decision making, integrating mitigation and adaptation into comprehensive planning and budgeting processes.
  11. Assess solutions to address the urgency of water-scarcity, pollution, and allocation in cities and their related ecosystems.
  12. Support community-based and entrepreneurial innovation in climate smart food systems.
  13. Further understanding is needed on potential for urban agriculture in terms of climate change mitigation and local food security.
  14. Understand impact of scope 3 emissions in, urban mitigation planning, and how this can be best incorporated into municipal climate plans.
  15. Assess energy efficiency increase through use of micro grids.
  16. Evaluate balance between connected vs. distributed renewable systems based on access and reliability.
  17. Explore potential for circular economy approach throughout city systems, and how these may differ in developed and developing cities.
  18. Evaluate benefits of diversion and recycling considering supply and demand.
  19. Explore how digital infrastructure can be built into transit systems to connect public and private transit technology.
  20. Explore how urban plans can be shaped to reduce vehicle miles travelled and support active/shared transit.
  21. Better understand how sustainable consumption habits can be fostered.
  22. Communicate community benefits of controlled landfilling to build understanding and buy-in of waste collection systems.
  23. Collaboration and capacity building to develop bankable projects and increase creditworthiness to de-risk investment.
  24. Increase focus on understanding the finance adaptation gap for cities, including short and long term financial needs for nature-based solutions.
  25. Governance landscapes (considering formal and informal actors) to support greater generation of municipal revenue and which support groups marginalised due to gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, indigenous status and disability.
  26. Increase understanding of potential for digital financing – including crowd-sourcing, digital green bonds, and others – to fund city-scale projects.
  27. Strategic methods for awarding projects which prioritise sustainability, circular economy, and resilient low-emission roadmaps in urban solutions.
  28. Develop flexible and distributed/networked solutions that can be expanded or changed as innovation progresses or financing allows.
  29. Calculation and communicate of economic and health effects of action vs. inaction.
  30. Evaluate combinations of high-tech and low-tech innovation.
  31. Measures to value a wide range of climate and societal co-benefits of climate solutions.
  32. Explore incentives for municipal employees to innovate and take risks with transformative decisions.
  33. Investigate emerging social innovations in cities that could be exported globally to scale solutions.
  34. Explore effective governance frameworks to facilitate city-led research and innovation, including creating space for learning-by-doing and learning-from-failure.
  35. Communication of uncertainty and risk of climate hazards for cities.
  36. Understand the mitigation and adaptation potential of city actions, including implications for social equity and justice.
  37. Generate city scale data for development of specific observation, models, and scenarios.
  38. Reduce the gap in climate relevant data on vulnerable communities.
  39. Equitable development and dissemination of knowledge and data inclusive of co-design and co-production through collaborative partnerships across public and private sectors, and civil sectors (including youth, Indigenous populations, residents of informal settlements, and other marginalised individuals).
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