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Pressmeddelande: Global open call – Climate Smart Cities Challenge

The Climate Smart Cities Challenge är en inbjudan till städer runt om i världen att delta i en tävling med målet att stimulera och skala upp innovativa lösningar för klimatomställningen. Tävlingen ger städerna möjlighet att arbeta med en global pool av experter för att stimulera och skala upp innovativa sätt att minska utsläppen av växthusgaser samtidigt som de skapar andra sociala vinster i städerna.

Initiativet är ett samarbete mellan Viable Cities, Teknikföretagen, UN-Habitat, Smart City Sweden och Vinnova. Nesta Challenges samordnar utlysningen.


London, Nairobi, Stockholm, 9 November 2020

Open call for cities to join a competition to reduce urban greenhouse gas emissions and improve cities’ futures

  • The Climate Smart Cities Challenge will help cities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create thriving communities

  • Cities called on to share the obstacles they face to shape an innovation competition that will support and scale solutions that can be replicated around the world

  • Cities stand to gain access to a global pool of technologists, businesses and investors to support them with reaching climate change and sustainability goals

  • The challenge is being launched on Monday, 9 November 2020 and applications close 22 January 2021

The Climate Smart Cities Challenge is making an open call to city governments and agencies around the world to join an open competition that aims to stimulate and scale innovative ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in cities while creating other social benefits.

The initiative—spearheaded by Teknikföretagen, Viable Cities, UN-Habitat, Smart City Sweden, and Vinnova, and delivered by Nesta Challenges—is an opportunity for cities to work with a global pool of experts to find and scale innovative solutions to urgent problems.

Olga Kordas, Director of Viable Cities, said:

“The Climate Smart Cities Challenge is an opportunity for cities to mobilise partners for the realisation of impactful potential solutions that contribute to climate neutral cities and a good life for all in sustainable, inclusive places. Today marks a call to cities to collaborate on the form of the challenge, so that relevant solutions can be implemented and scaled up to address the most pressing issues that cities face.”

According to the UN, cities contribute about 60% of the global GDP and 75% of global CO2 emissions. With 55% of the world’s population living in cities (a figure expected to increase to 68% within three decades), city governments and authorities recognise the essential role they have to play in tackling climate change. They now have the opportunity to collaborate with a global pool of technologists, businesses and investors to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create a better world for future generations.

The Climate Smart Cities Challenge seeks to help cities address emissions as a strategy to overcome interconnected sustainability challenges stemming from rising inequalities including a lack of affordable housing and transport options, food and energy insecurity and other problems exacerbated by the climate crisis. Potential solutions will reach across sectors and could address everything from how neighbourhoods, schools and offices are designed in a post-Covid world to how people travel, what their green spaces look like and how their buildings are heated and cooled.

The rapid shifts in society due to Covid-19 present a powerful lesson that society is capable of near-overnight transformation that is needed to confront our most urgent threats, such as the climate and pollution crises that threaten the very viability of cities. As highlighted by the UN Secretary-General’s Brief on Covid in an Urban World, cities can manage this crisis and emerge as the hubs of energy, resilience and innovation that make them such vibrant and appealing places for many to live.

The open call invites city governments and agencies to identify shared issues experienced by cities around the world. It asks cities and key stakeholders to highlight the significant problems they face and are struggling to overcome, to develop solutions that transform the way cities grow, develop, change and respond to human and environmental needs in the coming decades.

The intended outcome of the open call is the creation of a global innovation competition that will launch in 2021 at the World Expo in Dubai to encourage, support and reward multidisciplinary teams to scale and demonstrate replicable solutions that cities can use to cut their greenhouse gasses emissions and promote a better quality of life for all.

Maimunah Mohd. Sharif, Executive Director of UN-Habitat, said:

“We are very excited to invite cities to be part of this challenge-driven innovation process, and we encourage cities of all shapes, sizes and locations to apply. 

Now more than ever, in the face of COVID-19 and climate change, we need innovative thinking and creativity. We also need to find new ways of working together: this challenge seeks to harness the best of the public and private sectors to overcome business as usual approaches. Let’s innovate together!”

Klas Wåhlberg,  Director General at Teknikföretagen (The Association of Swedish Engineering Industries) said:

“Climate change is one of today’s greatest societal challenges. We believe that technology can help solve the climate crisis. We also know that cities play a crucial part, and account for more than 70% of global CO2 emissions. We therefore need a more systematic model to connect demand for climate-neutrality in cities with actual solution providers. We need to connect them with tech companies with proven technology and knowledge.”  

“With this innovative impact challenge, we hope to contribute to developing a model for closing the gap between stakeholders and enablers and build real system solutions. We also want to address and highlight policy barriers that need to be removed or modified in order for this to happen on a larger scale.”

Tris Dyson, Managing Director of Nesta Challenges, said:

“As the world re-shapes and re-builds the global economy following a year of huge upheaval, cities are facing many challenges, not least how they confront climate change and create better places to live and work. At risk is cities’ ability to survive and thrive as economic engines, cultural and social hubs and education centres. While each city’s challenges are context-specific, many of the underlying barriers and opportunities are universal. 

“We are thrilled to be working with a dynamic set of partners to invite cities around the world to share the barriers they face in reducing emissions whilst fostering economic growth and social cohesion, so that we can leverage the resources of this partnership to pursue meaningful solutions.”

City governments, agencies and key stakeholders interested in collaborating in the development of the Climate Smart Cities Challenge should visit to submit an entry to the open call before the deadline of 22 January 2021.

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Viable Cities

Viable Cities is a strategic innovation programme with a focus on smart sustainable cities. The programme’s mission is to transition to climate neutral cities by 2030 with a good life for everyone within planetary boundaries. Viable Cities is a catalyst for new forms of cooperation between cities, industry, academia, research institutes and civil society. This is to mobilise to change the way our cities work in line with our national environmental and climate goals and our international commitments linked to the global sustainability goals – Agenda 2030 – and the Paris Agreement. The programme’s time frame is 2017-2030 and is jointly funded by Vinnova, the Swedish Energy Agency and Formas. KTH Royal Institute of Technology is a host organisation.

Teknikföretagen (the Association of Swedish Engineering Industries) 

Teknikföretagen is the primary representative for Swedish industry. In total, our 4,200 member companies constitute one third of Sweden’s export and our mission is to strengthen the competitiveness of member companies. Our member companies comprise both major global corporations such as Ericsson, Scania, AFRY, ABB and Volvo, and a high number of other companies of all sizes down to the smallest companies.

In collaboration with our member companies, the Association builds upon Sweden’s historical roots as a powerful innovative and engineering nation. New technology, new business models will give us the tools with which to tackle the greatest challenges of our time. The Swedish engineering industry has a leading role in such developments.


UN-Habitat is the United Nations programme working towards a better urban future. Our mission is to promote socially and environmentally sustainable human settlements development and the achievement of adequate shelter for all. UN-Habitat works with partners to build inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities and communities. It promotes urbanization as a positive transformative force for people and communities, reducing inequality, discrimination and poverty and provides technical assistance, policy advice, knowledge and capacity building to national and local governments in over 90 countries.


Vinnova is Sweden’s innovation agency. We help to build Sweden’s innovation capacity, contributing to sustainable growth. Our vision is that Sweden is an innovative force in a sustainable world. We base our work on the global sustainability development goals of the 2030 Agenda adopted by the United Nations. We stimulate collaborations where knowledge and skills from different perspectives meet and where organisations learn from each other. Our support gives companies and organisations the opportunity to experiment and test new ideas before they become profitable. Every year, Vinnova invests approximately SEK 3 billion in research and innovation.

Vinnova is a government agency under the Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation, and the national contact authority for the EU framework programme for research and innovation. We’re also the Swedish Government’s expert authority in innovation policy. Vinnova employs just over 200 people. Our head office is in Stockholm with affiliates in Brussels, Silicon Valley and Tel Aviv.

Smart City Sweden

Smart City Sweden is a state-funded export platform that initiates cooperation between Sweden and other countries within smart & sustainable city solutions.

At our six regional offices around Sweden, as well as digitally, we welcome international delegations on the decision-making level with an interest in implementing Swedish solutions in their local context. We tailor our visit programs to the needs of the visitors and we have more than 100 study visit objects available, some of which are now available to visit digitally. Eight governmental agencies are a part of the project, providing expertise in a wide range of areas related to the smart city. But Smart City Sweden is not just a visit platform. We follow up our visits and are with you all the way, from the first contact to implementation.

Nesta Challenges 

Within Nesta, Nesta Challenges exists to design and run challenge prizes that help solve pressing problems that lack solutions. We shine a spotlight where it matters and incentivise people to solve these issues. We are independent supporters of change to help communities thrive and inspire the best placed, most diverse groups of people around the world to take action. We support the boldest and bravest ideas to become real, and seed long term change to advance society and build a better future for everyone. We are part of the innovation foundation, Nesta.