The Global Environment Facility (GEF), the leading public environment fund dedicated to developing countries, Tuesday unveiled a groundbreaking project in the planned city of Boughzoul, Algeria that will be built with an innovative clean energy focus designed to integrate climate change responses into urban development plans.
Under its new funding cycle the GEF will be working with Algeria and other countries to build “low-carbon cities”. Among these examples, the city of Boughzoul in Algeria is a landmark model of what is needed now in developing countries to address the challenge of meeting increasing energy needs without boosting harmful greenhouse gas emissions.
“Urbanization is a fact of life happening today in developing countries: right now about half of the world’s population lives in cities – and this share is projected to reach 60% by 2030,” said Monique Barbut, CEO and chairperson of the GEF.
“With this new migration come new environmental challenges and the GEF is ready to help. Looking at the global environmental benefits of this one project cumulative net greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced by 3.4 million tons when construction of Boughzoul is finished. There are also social and economic benefits that we hope will encourage smart growth practices elsewhere.”
GEF has already a strong portfolio on cities, especially on sustainable urban transport with 75 cities worldwide part of its portfolio. Boughzoul is a new city being developed about 200 kilometers south of Algiers that when complete in 2025 will be an administrative and business center with a population of over 400,000 and its own airport.
“The design and development of the new town of Boughzoul is an opportunity to introduce best practices in architecture, building construction and urban planning, as well as to promote research and development and business opportunities in response to climate change through the development of conditions favorable to the transfer of clean technologies that will benefit Algeria,” said Bernard Jamet, head of the Technology Transfer Unit of the Energy Branch, Division of Technology, Industry and Economics for the United Nations Environment Programme.
For this specific project the GEF will be committing $8.2 million, with another $22 million added from other sources to help introduce best practices on renewable energy, clean transportation and energy efficiency during the design and construction of the new city of Boughzoul. This will include the construction of zero-carbon buildings, street lighting using LED and photovoltaic systems, solar water heating systems, and a Center of Excellence for Technology Transfer.
“Boughzoul is the first in what we hope will be a new blueprint for cities of the future in Algeria and the world“said Mr. Chérif Rahmani, Algerian Minister of Spatial Planning and Environment. “This ambitious development project is part of a larger holistic plan to develop new, green cities throughout our country and to better balance population centers and economic development. With this low-carbon city, we will bring sustainable development to the Highlands region and beyond.”
Efforts like these in Algeria are part of a trend among city and local authorities to address climate change by monitoring, reporting and verifying their emission reductions. If present trends continue, the growth of cities, urban transport and building sectors are expected to generate even higher carbon dioxide emissions so the need for low carbon cities to help reverse this trend is acute. Similarly more and more cities are looking to make action plans to help adapt to the impacts of climate change that are magnified by their density and exposure. Most mega-cities are in coastal areas —-exposing even more of the poorest and vulnerable to floods and other natural disasters such as hurricanes.
About the Global Environment Facility
The Global Environment Facility (GEF) unites 182 member governments — in partnership with international institutions, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector — to address global environmental issues. The GEF provides grants to developing countries and countries with economies in transition for projects related to biodiversity, climate change, international waters, land degradation, the ozone layer, and persistent organic pollutants. These projects benefit the global environment, linking local, national, and global environmental challenges and promoting sustainable livelihoods.
Established in 1991, the GEF is today the largest public funder of projects to improve the global environment. The GEF has allocated $9.2 billion, supplemented by more than $40 billion in cofinancing, for more than 2,700 projects in more than 165 developing countries and countries with economies in transition. Through its Small Grants Programme (SGP), the GEF has also made more than 12,000 small grants directly to nongovernmental and community organizations, totaling $495 million.