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Cities around the world are facing serious challenges including rapidly growing populations, increased demands for services, strained energy, water, and transportation infrastructure, growing slum areas, threats from climate change, and limited resources. Since urban infrastructure is long-lived, investment decisions must be carefully made to fully realize their potential for positive change. The Sustainable Cities Initiative will work with a number of cities to prepare long-term sustainable development frameworks, share best practices, connect work at the city level to global policy discussions, and, where possible, identify and promote promising solutions initiatives. Ongoing projects of the Sustainable Cities Initiative include the Rio Sustainability Initiative and the City Indicators Report, which compares key indicators across six cities (Accra, Baltimore, Bangalore, Durban, Istanbul, New York, Rio de Janeiro, San Jose). SDSN, in partnership with Climate Nexus, has recently launched the USA Sustainable Cities Initiative (USA-SCI) to connect the UN Sustainable Development Goal agenda to ongoing sustainable development efforts in American cities.

The UN’s member countries are set to adopt in September 2015 the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which will define new standards for a global commitment to three interrelated objectives: economic development, social inclusion, and environmental sustainability. Consequently, the Sustainable Development Solutions Network and Climate Nexus are implementing the USA Sustainable Cities Initiative (USA-SCI), a nation-wide program with the objective of bringing this global agenda down to the local level of the American urban environment.