Some of the world’s most sustainable cities have been given special recognition at the COP 19 Climate Change Conference underway in Warsaw. Vancouver, Cape Town, and Abu Dhabi are the winners of the World Green Building Council’s Government Leadership Awards (a competition held in partnership with ICLEI and UN-HABITAT), which focused on “global excellence in local green building policy. Each winning city has been honored for policies and practices that maximize opportunities for builders and developers to mitigate the environmental impact of the built environment. Take a look after the jump at what makes these three cities so special.

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Vancouver, Canada, came out top in the ‘Best Green Building Policy’ category for its Greenest City 2020 Action Plan. As part of its goal to become the greenest city in the world, local councils are working with residents to enact a sweeping changes in how the city handles carbon, waste and ecosystem management. Vancouver has some ambitious targets ahead: for all new buildings constructed from 2020 onward to be carbon neutral; to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions in existing buildings by 20 percent over 2007 levels by 2020; and a 28km Seaside Greenway and a new York Bikeway to transform the city’s transport system.

Cape Town, South Africa, was recognised for its energy efficiency program, which has aimed to reduce consumption even within the municipality. This means it has undertaken practical solutions for energy reduction, improving street and traffic lighting, and municple infrastructure. It may not be the most innovative way of reimagining green energy, but according to Councillor Garreth Bloor, the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Economic, Environmental and Spatial Planning it has proven an effective model.

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, was recognised for its Estidama Pearl Rating System whereby, at the community level, the city encourages several specific developments. Water conservation and energy and waste reduction is supported as well as local material use and recycling. New community developments have to meet these targets, helped with the provision of water, waste and energy use calculators.

These green awards are a little beacon of positive news to come out of the UN talks, which have caused upset and controversy with world leaders being accused of doing far too little. At least some urban hubs are getting a mini pat on the back for doing things right.

+ WorldGBC Awards

Via Sustainable Cities Collective