Global Platform for Sustainable Cities (GPSC)

Information presented in this profile is for reference only. The Climate Action in Financial Institutions Initiative does not guarantee as to the exhaustiveness of this information and invites you to contact the Secretariat ( if you wish to propose any modifications.

By including this profile, the Initiative, its Supporting Institutions and the Secretariat do not endorse the activities described below nor the guidance and information provided in this profile.

Last updated: July 2018




“Currently comprised of 28 cities across 11 pilot countries, the Global Platform for Sustainable Cities, or GPSC, supports cities in their efforts to adopt an integrated approach to urban planning and financing. Led by the World Bank and supported by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), in collaboration with development partners, the GPSC promotes sustainable development amidst rapid urbanization and works with practitioners and thought leaders from around the world in developing solutions for sustainable urban growth.”[1]

What are the objectives of the initiative?

The GPSC “aims to support, strengthen, and contribute to the worldwide initiatives mentioned above by helping cities translate transnational declarations into city level actions, with a focus on integrated planning and fiscal responsibility”.[2]

Who launched it? Who is participating?

“The Global Platform for Sustainable Cities (GPSC) was launched in March 2016 as part of the Sustainable Cities Integrated Approach Pilot (SC IAP) supported by the Global Environment Facility (GEF).”[3]

“Led by the World Bank and supported by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), in collaboration with development partners including UN agencies, the Global Platform for Sustainable Cities, or GPSC, is a knowledge platform and collaborative space that will enable aspiring cities to pursue these questions – and an overall agenda of long-term sustainability.”[4]

“Funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the platform currently comprises of 28 cities across 11 countries. The GPSC works with practitioners and thought leaders from around the world to develop solutions for sustainable urban growth.”[5]

“GPSC’s membership covers a very diverse group of cities, including megacities with populations of more than 15 million people, relatively small cities with populations of 200,000, high-middle-income cities with an average per capita income of more than $15,000, and low-income cities with per capita income of less than $2,000. Given this diverse membership, the USF is not intended to be prescriptive in its approach, but rather provides general guidance that can be modified and tailored to the unique circumstances of each city.”[6]

Why has this been put into place?

“It was designed to meet the need that many of us saw for an enabling environment—a platform—that allows cities to exchange ideas, share experiences, use analytical tools, and, most importantly, steer investment toward long-term sustainability.


A key pillar of the platform is to link knowledge to finance so that cities become major hubs for achieving global environmental benefits. The goal is to enable cities to leverage financing to advance their sustainability and resilience agendas, and in particular to work toward the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 11—making cities inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable. By connecting cities with international financial institutions (IFIs), the GPSC helps match projects with financing opportunities and promotes the sustainable implementation of projects. Since the adoption of the New Urban Agenda in Quito, Ecuador, in October 2016, many IFIs have come together to coordinate an approach that supports city leaders in developing long-term visions and plans, and in utilizing the financing options that can translate those plans into a reality. Today the GPSC is strengthening the IFI network and promote investment in sustainable urban infrastructure.”[7]

What are the main work streams/areas of work?

“The GPSC provides a more holistic approach to urban development rather than through a sectorial or “project-by-project” approach. Specifically, the GPSC supports the following activities:

  • Using geospatial data and tools to support integrated urban planning;
  • Developing GPSC national planforms to enable public access to reliable and accurate location-based information;
  • Establishing and enhancing urban sustainability indicators in close alignment with the UN Sustainable Development Goal 11;
  • Implementing a diagnostic process to assess cities’ sustainability status;
  • Preparing and implementing action plans to facilitate planning for sustainable urban growth;
  • Providing capacity building opportunities to improve municipal finances and city creditworthiness, as well as to identify priorities for urban investment; and
  • Delivering workshops and trainings at regional and national levels to share knowledge and experience among client cities.”[8]

What are concrete outcomes (both political and in terms of recommendations)?

The GPSC aims to support cities on 4 main areas around urban planning:

– The GPSC maintains a collection of datasets and indicators – with corresponding analysis – on urbanization trends. This library of information assists in identifying the gaps in urban infrastructure and the provision of basic services. The data will improve the cities’ capacity to monitor and report the status of their ‘sustainability’, and to better formulate and implement their strategies.

– Sustainable Action Plans drawing on best practice principles adopted in other cities

– Finance: The GPSC can assist in identifying sources of funding available to cities, and provide strategies and techniques that will improve a city’s creditworthiness – bolstering its ability to leverage public and private financing.

– Partnerships: The platform not only delivers the World Bank Group’s operational expertise and knowledge on urban sustainability, but GPSC also benefits from a global network of experts.

Have intermediate or final reports / guidance been issued?

As of 2018, GPSC main publication is the Urban Sustainability Framework (USF), which streamlines existing indicators and enables cities to select indicators suitable for achieving their policy objectives and serves as an overarching guidance document for supporting cities to pursue integrated approach. It contains five components: 1) sustainability indicators, 2) diagnostic process, 3) sustainability action plan, 4) financing and investment, and 5) process for implementing the framework.

Calendar and milestones


Supporting Institutions partners of the platform










Links with the 5 Voluntary Principles for Mainstreaming Climate Action

This section aims to support discussions on the implementation of the 5 voluntary Principles for Mainstreaming Climate Action. Information provided in this section is for reference only; the Climate Action in Financial Institutions Initiative, its Supporting Institutions and the Secretariat do not endorse the activities nor the guidance and information provided in this section.

The GPSC provides an overview of how climate-related concerns can be integrated into urban planning – as well as how cities can access financial resources to support these ambitions. The expertise and experience centralized by the GPSC can provide financial institutions with examples of how to tailor their urban planning-related activities to better support climate-related objectives and operations-wide strategies.

Part II of the Urban Sustainability Framework (USF) presents a multidimensional framework designed to help cities understand and measure urban sustainability, identifiying the following key focus areas for Climate Action and resilience:

  • Greenhouse gas inventory;
    Energy efficiency;
  • Clean energy;
  • Climate change adaptation; and
  • Disaster risk reduction.”