Cities are complex systems. The components of urban systems, from food distribution networks and energy grids to transport and greenways, are interconnected and dynamic. Intervening to create change in any one of these components may impact others, creating systemic change. Designing solutions that take these interconnections into account is critical to sustainable development.
The five ICLEI pathways towards low emission, nature-based, equitable, resilient and circular development are designed to create systemic change.
The pathways provide a framework for designing integrated solutions that balance the patterns of human life and the built and natural environments. They encourage holistic thinking to ensure that ICLEI, as a network of local and regional governments and global experts, optimizes our impact. For instance, we consider how nature-based development contributes to resilience, or how to bring equity into low emission development. When these pathways guide local and regional development, urban systems becomes more sustainable.
Local and regional governments use these pathways as a guide for sustainable urban development through systemic change. Each individual pathway is multidimensional, incorporating numerous strategies for sustainable development. As part of the low emission pathway, for example, we look at anything from transport and buildings to energy.
We design our work to integrate as many pathways as possible. When more pathways are integrated into any given activity, such as a project, partnership or initiative, a greater degree of change can occur.
Often, our activities are guided by a predominant pathway or set of pathways. In any given city or region, multiple activities may be implemented along each pathway. These activities help local and regional governments advance sustainable urban development.
Urban systems are part of a broader city-region territory. Local and regional governments and their urban systems are interconnected. We address city-to-city and rural-urban linkages to create a multiplier effect. Our network of more than 1,500 local and regional governments drives sustainable urban development worldwide.