New Delhi : The One Planet City Challenge is WWF’s biennial global challenge that recognizes cities for their ambitions and innovative actions in sectors such as energy, buildings, transport, and waste, to power the global transition to a low-carbon, climate-resilient future. Rajkot, the fourth largest city of Gujarat, once again bagged the coveted title of the National Winner from India in WWF’s Global One Planet City Challenge (OPCC) 2020. Besides Rajkot, seven other Indian cities, namely Gangtok, Guwahati, Indore, Kochi, Nagpur, Panaji and Pune were among over 255 cities from 53 countries that participated in OPCC 2019-20 edition. After an initial evaluation by WWF and ARUP – a global consultancy, a 27-member international jury comprising urban sustainability experts reviewed the data to select one city from each country as the National Winner, and a Global Winner. Mexico City has been announced as the Global Winner among the 53 National Winners this year.
Rajkot, with its strong low-carbon actions coupled with community engagement, aims to combat climate change with a commitment to reduce 14% of the total annual GHG emissions across key sectors by the year 2022-23. Rajkot’s win for the third consecutive round of OPCC since 2016 is a testimony to its vision for a climate-smart future. The city is also the first in India to include district cooling in its Smart City Plan and is also one of the six 5-star rated cities in the recently announced results of Star Rating of Garbage Free Cities under Swachh Bharat Mission Urban (SBM-U), for the assessment year 2019-20.
Speaking on this recognition, Smt. Binaben Acharya, Hon’ble Mayor, Rajkot, remarked, “It gives us immense pride that Rajkot has been consistent in its efforts and has received this title for the third time in a row. Rajkot Municipal Corporation is committed to sustainable growth through innovative and climate-resilient measures in its plans, policies, projects and programmes. Rajkot’s ambition is to continue its journey towards sustainability through implementing various climate change adaptation and mitigation actions.”
Rajkot performed well on the parameters related to the city’s vision towards climate mitigation. In terms of emissions reductions, it has focused notably on the building sector, which is currently the highest emitting sector. Under some of its pioneering initiatives, the city has undertaken the installation of 9629 kWh grid-connected Solar PV system on residential buildings with a proposed set-up of 500kWh systems on municipal buildings. Additionally, retrofitting of 63,178 streetlights with LEDs has been undertaken in the city, resulting in annual savings of 11.5 million kWh energy consumption. Implementation of Smart Ghar III – an affordable green home concept aimed to maintain indoor thermal comfort with minimal climate impact, and plans to replace diesel buses with electric ones with provision of Solar PV charging are among the other noteworthy initiatives.
The OPCC platform also complements various government initiatives such as the Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs’ Climate Smart City Assessment Framework (CSCAF) which is aimed at incentivizing holistic, climate responsive development in Indian smart cities.
Mr. Ravi Singh, Secretary General & CEO, WWF India, said, “Globally, cities are being recognised as catalysts for enhanced climate action by providing solutions for mitigating carbon emissions as well as preparing for climate resilient development. Platforms such as the One Planet City Challenge (OPCC) complement and support the efforts by local and national governments in mainstreaming climate change aspects in planning and policy making. It is heartening to see cities in India moving towards a climate smart future. I congratulate the city of Rajkot, for their exemplary achievement of being selected the OPCC National Winner for the third consecutive time.”
Along with Rajkot, the two other finalist cities – Kochi and Nagpur have also qualified to join OPCC’s public campaign, “We Love Cities”, which aims to inspire and engage citizens for support, as well as sharing ideas for improvement for climate and sustainability issues. The campaign is due to begin in September 2020.