News Article
February 7, 2020

RELEASE: WRI Ross Center Prize for Cities 2020-2021 Opens; Now Accepting Applications for Transformative Urban Climate Projects

The WRI Ross Center Prize for Cities calls upon urban change-makers to deliver transformative and innovative solutions for a resilient future.

ABU DHABI (February 10, 2020)—Today, WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities launched the second cycle of the WRI Ross Center Prize for Cities, a global competition that celebrates transformative urban change. The announcement comes during the 10th session of the United Nations World Urban Forum, the world’s largest gathering of urban changemakers. Applications are now being accepted for the Prize for Cities, which will award $250,000 to one winner and $25,000 each to four runners-up.

The inaugural Prize for Cities was awarded to SARSAI in April 2019, a program of the non-profit Amend, for its highly impactful and replicable approach to creating safer journeys to school for children in Dar es Salaam and other African cities, putting children’s experience of cities at the heart of urban transformation. Project teams from around the world submitted 193 inspiring applications, which were narrowed down to five incredible finalists.  

For the 2020-2021 cycle, the Prize for Cities invites submissions on the theme of “Inclusive Cities for a Changing Climate,” seeking initiatives that show how to live and thrive in a changing climate by tackling both the climate crisis and urban inequality. Applicants should apply here by May 7, 2020.

“With the Prize for Cities, we want to inspire a sense of possibility – that it is possible to slash greenhouse gas emissions while also acknowledging people’s day-to-day realities and leaving no one behind,” said Ani Dasgupta, Global Director of WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities. “We know it’s possible, but efforts are too few, and we need to learn faster from successes and scale them.”

All types of organizations and individuals from public, private and not-for-profit sectors are encouraged to apply. Applicants may submit in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Turkish or Chinese.

“We are looking for projects that apply big ideas to critical urban problems, demonstrate life-changing impacts on people’s lives and that of the communities they live in, and have ripple effects on institutions, the wider city and other cities,” said Anne Maassen, Global Lead for the WRI Ross Center Prize for Cities. “This year’s applicants will provide a much-needed repertoire of implementable interventions and projects for tackling the climate crisis and urban inequality.”

An international evaluation team from across the WRI Ross Center network will select five finalists in October 2020. A highly distinguished and independent jury of urban leaders will then select one winner, who will be announced in April 2021 at a gala awards ceremony in New York City. Jury members include Sir David Adjaye, Martha Delgado, Lord Norman Foster, Frannie Léautier, Rahul Mehrotra, Sheela Patel, Maimunah Mohd Sharif, Steve Strongin and Mark Watts. Jury chairman Stephen M. Ross, founder of Related Companies and a WRI Board Director, sponsors the Prize for Cities.

The Prize for Cities has also expanded its global Advisory Council, a group of urban thought leaders who advise the prize and help identify exciting projects from across their global networks.

To learn more about the WRI Ross Center Prize for Cities, including how to submit applications and support the prize, visit prizeforcities.org.

Quotes from the Prize for Cities jury:

“I am delighted to once again be part of the jury for the WRI Ross Center Prize for Cities, a crucial initiative that encourages radical and innovative solutions to global city problems,” said Lord Norman Foster, Founder and Executive Chairman of Foster + Partners. “By 2050, 70% of the world will be living in urban areas, and this represents a challenge that can only be met by transformative change at an unprecedented scale. By championing innovation and encouraging creative sustainable solutions, the Prize for Cities fittingly celebrates ideas that will transform the cities of tomorrow.”

“With 68% of the world’s population projected to be living in cities by 2050, it is crucial to engineer urban human activity in a way that works for our sustainable development,” said Frannie Léautier, Executive Director of Asset Management at the Eastern and Southern Africa Trade and Development Bank. “I am honored to be part of the WRI Ross Center Prize for Cities jury to celebrate those game-changing initiatives that make this possible.”

“The WRI Ross Center Prize for Cities in its first cycle surfaced the most inspiring human innovations and initiatives in making cities more equitable and just with ideas that changed the everyday lives of people – especially women and children,” said Rahul Mehrotra, Founder Principal of RMA Architects. “I look forward to rejoining the jury in the second cycle of this award and being inspired by and learning from people who transform their cities.”

“Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda means leaving no one and no place behind,” said Maimunah Mohd Sharif, Executive Director of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme. “These are global goals but we need action on the ground in this Decade of Action. City changemakers can make a world of difference. As more people move to cities, we know they must be at the forefront of change to succeed in creating a more equitable and more sustainable world for everyone.”

“Climate change and sustainable urbanization are two of the great challenges of our time,” said Steve Strongin, Head of Global Investment Research at Goldman Sachs. “We need innovations that can bring more people into thriving urban economies while helping people adapt to climate change at the same time. The prize helps us learn what is working and support projects that are already having a tangible impact.” 

“We are embarking on a vitally important year of climate action, at the beginning of a decade that will truly define the future of humanity,” Mark Watts, Executive Director of C40 Cities. “It has never been more important to celebrate the most inspiring and impactful initiatives that are transforming the landscapes and experiences of cities for the better. Cities around the world are already responding to the climate emergency with urgency and innovation. As the climate crisis disproportionately affects the most vulnerable in cities and worldwide, it is crucial that inclusive climate action is placed at the heart of all urban decision making. This is exactly why I am delighted to be on this year’s jury of the WRI Ross Center Prize for Cities.” 

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About World Resources Institute 
WRI is a global research organization that spans more than 60 countries, with international offices in Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico and the United States, regional offices in Ethiopia (for Africa) and the Netherlands (for Europe), and program offices in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Turkey and the United Kingdom. Our more than 1,000 experts and staff turn big ideas into action at the nexus of environment, economic opportunity and human well-being. More information at www.wri.org

About WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities

WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities helps create accessible, equitable, healthy and resilient urban areas for people, businesses and the environment to thrive. Together with partners, it enables more connected, compact and coordinated cities. The Center expands the transport and urban development expertise of the EMBARQ network to catalyze innovative solutions in other sectors, including water, buildings, land use and energy. It combines the research excellence of WRI with 15 years of on-the-ground impact through a network of more than 250 experts working from Brazil, China, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Mexico and Turkey to make cities around the world better places to live. More information at www.wrirosscities.org.

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