Deadline: 5 January 2022

At Expo 2020 in Dubai, UN-Habitat and Sweden launched the Climate Smart Cities Challenge to accelerate the shift to climate-neutral cities.

The Climate Smart Cities Challenge invites innovative organisations of different types and sizes to submit their best approaches, solutions and technologies to reduce carbon emissions while providing positive impacts on the quality of life in four cities – Bogota, Colombia; Bristol, United Kingdom; Curitiba, Brazil; and Makindye Ssabagabo, Uganda.

The climate challenges of these four cities range from green and affordable homes, net-zero-carbon neighbourhoods to urban freight management. Up to 20 finalists per city will be invited to form teams to demonstrate how to solve the cities’ climate challenges.

“Cities are at the heart of the climate change problem. But cities are also the key to the solution. Cities need to take climate change seriously and significantly reduce their carbon emissions, while improving their resilience and adaptability to climate-related disasters and negative effects. Now is the time for action,” said UN-Habitat Executive Director Maimunah Mohd Sharif.

The Climate Smart Cities Challenge uses an open innovation competition process, where teams of innovators are selected to collaborate with cities and investors to demonstrate climate smart approaches that will inform future investments in the cities.

Tommy Mikelsen, Director at Swedish Export Credit Corporation (SEK) said: “We welcome financial institutions to partner with us in finding ways of financing the transition in the four cities and beyond.”

The outcomes of the competition will have a significant impact on the four cities’ responses to climate change by significantly strengthening their capacity to engage in diverse partnerships, enabling communities and innovators to play a key and often new role collaborating with government and stakeholders in designing people-driven solutions and reinvent the way that cities innovate.

With over 190 countries present at Expo 2020 Dubai, the country pavilions provide an opportunity to reach out to innovators globally. In order to attract innovators from around the world to the competition, each country pavilion at the Expo has been provided with a ‘birdhouse’, where innovators can leave their contact details.

“A mission-oriented and people-centred innovation challenge process will provide a platform for a whole range of organizations across different sectors to participate, creating a movement to speed up the transition,” said Olga Kordas, Director of the Viable Cities Programme.

The competition was launched on 3 November 2021 at Expo 2020 Dubai. The deadline for submissions is 5 January 2022. Up to 80 finalists will be presented on 20 January 2022. This will be followed by a process to form winning teams that will plan for system demonstration

More information about the Climate Smart Cities Challenge and how to enter a submission can be found on


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