Office of Energy and Sustainable Development
Office of Energy and Sustainable Development

UN Urban Environmental Accords

The United Nations Urban Environmental Accords are a series of implementable goals that can be adopted at the city level to achieve urban sustainability, promote healthy economies, advance social equity and protect the world’s ecosystems. By achieving success at the city level, the multilateral city commitments of the Urban Environmental Accords can inspire and mobilize expanded commitment at the national level. The Urban Environmental Accords build on and continue the legacy of the 1972 Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment, the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, the 1996 Istanbul Conference on Human Settlements, the 2000 Millennium Development Goals and the 2002 Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development.

Urban Environmental Accords

Recognizing that for the first time in history, the majority of the planet’s population now lives in cities and that continued urbanization will result in one million people moving to cities each week, thus creating a new set of environmental challenges and opportunities; and

Believing that as Mayors of cities around the globe, we have a unique opportunity to provide leadership to develop truly sustainable urban centers based on culturally and economically appropriate local actions; and

Recalling that in 1945 the leaders of 50 nations gathered in San Francisco to develop and sign the Charter of the United Nations; and 

Acknowledging the importance of the obligations and spirit of the 1972 Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment, the 1992 Rio Earth Summit (UNCED), the 1996 Istanbul Conference on Human Settlements, the 2000 Millennium Development Goals, and the 2002 Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development, we see The Urban Environmental Accords described below as a synergistic extension of the efforts to advance sustainability, foster vibrant economies, promote social equity, and protect the planet’s natural systems.

Therefore, be it resolved, today on World Environment Day 2005 in San Francisco, we the signatory Mayors have come together to write a new chapter in the history of global cooperation. We commit to promote this collaborative platform and build an ecologically sustainable, economically dynamic, and socially equitable future for our urban citizens; and

Be it further resolved that we call to action our fellow Mayors around the world to sign the Urban Environmental Accords and collaborate with us to implement these actions; and

Be it further resolved that by signing these Urban Environmental Accords, we commit to encourage our City governments to adopt these Accords and commit our best efforts to achieve the Actions stated within.  By implementing the Urban Environmental Accords, we aim to realize the right to a clean, healthy, and safe environment for all members of our society.

Implementation & Recognition

The following 21 actions that comprise the Urban Environmental Accords are organized by urban themes. They are proven first steps toward environmental sustainability.  However, to achieve long-term sustainability, cities will have to progressively improve performance in all thematic areas.

Implementing the Urban Environmental Accords will require an open transparent, and participatory dialogue between government, community groups, business, academic institutions, and other key partners.  Accords implementation will benefit where decisions are made on the basis of a careful assessment of available alternatives using the best available science.

The call to action set forth in the Accords will most often result in cost savings as a result of diminished resource consumption and improvements in the health and general well-being of city residents.  Implementation of the Accords can leverage each city’s purchasing power to promote and even require responsible environmental, labor and human rights practices from vendors.

Between now and the World Environment Day 2012, cities shall work to implement as many of the 21 Actions as possible.  The ability of cities to enact local environmental laws and policies differs greatly.  However, the success of the Accords will ultimately be judged on the basis of actions taken.  Therefore, the Accords can be implemented through programs and activities even where cities lack the requisite legislative authority to adopt laws.

The goal is for cities to pick three actions to adopt each year.  In order to recognize the progress of Cities to implement the Accords a City Green Star Program will be created.

At the end of the seven years, a city that has implemented:

  • 19 – 21 Actions shall be recognized as a «««« City
  • 15 – 18 Actions shall be recognized as a ««« City
  • 12 – 17 Actions shall be recognized as a «« City
  • 8 – 11 Actions shall be recognized as a « City

Renewable Energy | Energy Efficiency | Climate Change

Waste Reduction
Zero Waste | Manufacturer Responsibility | Consumer Responsibility

Urban Design
Green Building | Urban Planning | Slums

Urban Nature
Parks | Habitat Restoration | Wildlife

Public Transportation | Clean Vehicles | Reducing Congestion

Environmental Health
Toxics Reduction | Healthy Food Systems | Clean Air

Water Access & Efficiency | Source Water Conservation | Waste Water Reduction


  • Action 1 Adopt and implement a policy to increase the use of renewable energy to meet ten per cent of the city’s peak electrical load within seven years.
  • Action 2 Adopt and implement a policy to reduce the city’s peak electric load by ten per cent within seven years seven years through energy efficiency, shifting the timing of energy demands, and conservation measures.
  • Action 3 Adopt a citywide green house gas reduction plan that reduces the jurisdictions emissions by twenty five percent by 2030, and which includes a system for accounting and auditing greenhouse gas emissions.

Waste Reduction

  • Action 4 Establish a policy to achieve zero waste to landfills and incinerators by 2040.
  • Action 5 Adopt a citywide law that reduces the use of a disposable, toxic or non-renewable product category by at least a percent in seven years.
  • Action 6 Implemented “user-friendly” recycling and composting programs, with the goal of reducing by twenty per cent per capita solid waste disposal to landfill and incineration in seven years.

Urban Design

  • Action 7 Adopt a policy that mandates a green building rating system standard that applies to all new municipal buildings.
  • Action 8 Adopt urban planning principles that advance higher density, mixed use, walkable, bikeable and disabled-accessible neighborhoods which coordinate land use and transportation with open space systems for recreation and ecological restoration.
  • Action 9 Adopt a policy or implement a program that creates environmentally beneficial jobs in slums and/or low-income neighborhoods.

Urban Nature

  • Action 10 Ensure that there is an accessible park or recreational open space within half-a-kilometer of every city resident by 2015.
  • Action 11 Conduct an inventory of existing canopy coverage in the city; and then establish a goal based on ecological and community considerations to plant and maintain canopy coverage in not less than fifty per cent of all available sidewalk planting sites.
  • Action 12 Pass legislation that protects critical habitat corridors and other key habitat characteristics (e.g. water features, food bearing plants, shelter for wildlife, use of native species, etc.) from unsustainable development.


  • Action 13 Develop and implement a policy which expands affordable public transportation coverage to within half-a-kilometer of all city residents in ten years.
  • Action 14 Pass a law or implement a program that eliminates leaded gasoline (where it is still used); and that phases down sulfur levels in diesel and gasoline fuels, concurrent with using advanced emission controls on all buses, taxis, and public fleets to reduce particulate matter and smog-forming emissions from those fleets by fifty per cent in seven years.
  • Action 15 Implement a policy to reduce the percentage of commute trips by single occupancy vehicles by ten per cent in seven years.

Environmental Health

  • Action 16 Every year, identify one product, chemicals, or compounds that is used within the city that represents the greatest risk to human health and adopt a law to provide incentives to reduce or eliminate its use by the municipal government.
  • Action 17 Promote the public health and environmental benefits of supporting organic foods.  Ensure that twenty per cent of all city facilities (including schools) serve locally grown and organic food within seven years.
  • Action 18 Establish an Air Quality Index (AQI) to measure the level of air pollution and set the goal of reducing by ten per cent  in seven years the number of days categorized in the AQI range as "unhealthy" to "hazardous."
  • Action 19 Develop policies to increase adequate access to safe drinking water, aiming at access for all by 2015.  For cities with potable water consumption greater than 100 liters per capita per day, adopt and implement policies to reduce consumption by ten per cent by 2015.
  • Action 20 Protect the ecological integrity of the city’s primary drinking water sources (i.e. aquifers, rivers, lakes, wetlands and associated eco-systems).
  • Action 21 Adopt municipal wastewater management guidelines and reduce the volume of untreated wastewater discharge by ten per cent in seven years through the expanded use of recycled water and the implementation of sustainable urban watershed planning process that includes participants of all affected communities and is based on sound economic, social, and environmental principles.
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