Working paper
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Action by national governments is crucial for achieving sustainable, economically productive urban development. A range of benefits can be achieved through development focused on compact, accessible urban forms; clean and efficient urban transportation options; efficient building energy use and local clean energy solutions; and efficient urban waste management – all of which can also lower greenhouse gas emissions (i.e., a “low-carbon” approach).

National governments can use a wide range of measures to promote such a model – not all of which need be strictly urban-focused or traditional parts of national urban development policies. A comprehensive strategy should include both targeted national policies and enabling approaches that enhance the capacities of local government, increase their access to finance, and mobilize private investment in urban infrastructure. Measures should also be chosen to achieve a coherent package that exploits synergies and avoids conflicting incentives. Key considerations include budgetary impacts, administrative burdens, technical capacity requirements, impacts on local government budgets and capacities, coordination challenges, and equity concerns. The “right” set of measures will depend on a country’s particular national circumstances. Countries that are already pursuing low-carbon strategies have adopted different approaches that reflect their respective capacities, policy and political contexts, and urban development challenges and opportunities.

In Page 51, this paper specifically introduced establishing national building energy codes and building energy certification and labelling programmes. Giving ambitious cities the legal authority to adopt stringent new building codes, certification programmes, or local incentives for energy-efficient new buildings (including special zoning requirements, e.g.) can help improve building standards. National governments can help these cities by easing legal restrictions on the introduction of ambitious local policies, including fiscal authority where necessary to implement incentive programmes.

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