Our story begins during the potent days of the first Earth Summit in 1992, where 172 governments and 2,400 NGO's met for the first international Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It was a time of great ambition and hope, and it sparked further ideas in our founders.
How could we tap into Canadian expertise in city planning - to harness innovation and really make a difference?
Was it possible to re-engineer urban centres from hubs of pollution, waste and inequity to something more humane and sustainable?
With seed funding from the federal government, we created an organization to pursue these ideas.
Since then, Sustainable Cities International has led the way in the creation of knowledge about urban sustainability. For almost 20 years we have built teams of private, public, civil and academic partners to advance international sustainability. We have launched many successful demonstration projects that continue to yield robust results - to this day!
Launching a movement and creating a Network
In 2003, SCI - along with 3 partners - won the International Gas Union’s Sustainable Urban Systems Design competition for 100-year sustainable urban system designs..
Many of our projects before and since have won awards, but this one made us realize how important integrated urban planning with a long-term vision was in creating system-wide change. So, we founded the Sustainable Cities Network, which now has almost 40 member cities from Canada, the U.S, Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
We used the collaborative approach we’d honed to create new peer learning networks for cities, enabling them to share successful solutions to common problems. In effect, we connected city to city, person to person, learned to learner.
Harnessing the present to change the future
We continue to do pilot projects to test innovative ideas and show how sustainable urban policies can be implemented, but we do them within a framework of changing how a city plans, builds and engages its citizens, so the impact of the projects go well beyond just the people or community directly involved.
There have been many top-down solutions to these urban issues that often don't produce results. Our experience teaches us that lasting solutions lie beyond what one entity can accomplish. They must have the support of the citizens themselves and must involve a multiplicity of actors.
Today, we’re applying the best of the peer learning approach in an efficient system of networking, advancing the destiny of more and more cities.