Shaping cities that drive a sustainable future

How better cities can lead to more prosperous, equal and sustainable societies

Sustainable cities offer a powerful model for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Cities will soon be home to 60% of the world’s population. These urban centres have always been engines of growth with a special ability to connect people, ideas and businesses. As a result, today’s cities generate 85% of global GDP, but they are also responsible for 70% of greenhouse gas emissions.

Well designed and managed cities are environmentally efficient, economically productive and socially progressive, but despite these potential benefits, cities and their leaders face many challenges. Developing cities will have to absorb 90% of urban migration, investment in new and upgraded infrastructure in most countries is critically constrained, and despite offering an efficient template for economic growth and modern living, action on a healthier, net zero future needs to accelerate. We may have little more than a decade to get things right, but at PwC we believe that it can be done.

Acting as a trusted partner for national and city governments, private and third sector, we collaborate to unlock the power of cities. Our diverse and specialist team is currently deployed in 20 cities on five continents helping to deliver tomorrow’s cities, today.

Service areas

Strategy and leadership

Cities are pioneering in a new age where they are compelled to set the agenda for policy and action in response to public voice, demographic change and economic upheaval. This complex and changing landscape means that cities must take an important leadership role, setting a new vision, backed by a distinctive and winning strategy and goals, but with achievable and accountable plans, programmes and investments.

Working across Europe, Africa, Asia, LATAM and the Middle East we work with leaders in many of the world’s cities to help them achieve good growth, transition to a sustainable future and plan the path ahead for their city and people. We co-create city strategies and plan their implementation to reform urban policy, enhance urban economies, drive innovation and deliver net zero.

Growth and development

For many cities, particularly in the global south, meeting the needs of population growth is overwhelming. How to create quality jobs, fund and deliver infrastructure and manage public services are the most frequent challenges we are asked to help with.

We help local and national governments tackle poverty and inequality by reshaping transport and mobility, planning thriving neighbourhoods, stimulating investment and the fair allocation of land and resources. We also shape industrial strategy, undertaking commercial master planning for new urban areas and planning investment into economic zones.

Climate and sustainability

Delivering net-zero emissions will transform our life in cities, which are at the forefront of contributing to, and bearing the brunt of, climate change. As well as sector and place-based reforms including transport, mobility, energy demand and supply and waste, resilience to extreme weather events, natural hazards need to be tackled. This transition needs to be just and conscious of how climate relates to poverty, wider environmental co-benefits, inequality and growth.

We help design and deliver sustainable cities and net-zero strategies, low carbon project development, environmental impact appraisals and valuations. We have valued the global investment opportunity for climate investment in cities, sized rapid growth innovation markets in mobility, energy and circular economy, prepared city investment plans on five continents and partnered with world-leading cities and collaborations.

Technology and innovation

New and emerging technologies are quickly changing the ‘smart’ cities landscape and providing means to accelerate the transition to sustainable urban economies. Yet making sense of this rapid and disruptive change, brought on by the merging of digital, physical and biological forces of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, can be a challenge both for developed and emerging cities.

With an understanding of global trends and local contexts, from UK to Tanzania, we can help by assessing your readiness for digital change, creating smart city strategies, interpreting digital economy and innovation ecosystems, and providing implementation planning and support for strategic projects and innovation pilots alike.

Finance and investment

Investment in sound infrastructure offers a long-term return to the economy and society, but raising the finance upfront is challenging for constrained local governments that are often critically under-funded and lack the capacity or permission to raise finance from external sources. Cities and local authorities are increasingly seeking new ways to finance growth and societal outcomes with less reliance on national governments for funding. New forms of blended finance and ways to raise subnational debt and equity are now emerging to meet this challenge.

We have both a leading voice on reforming urban finance policy, and the capability to deliver that change. We have advised numerous cities, municipalities and industrial parks, financiers and development actors on how best to leverage new opportunities including long term capital investment planning, infrastructure and other types of project development, municipal financial management and planning, value capture, green finance and municipal bonds.

Programme and change management

Effecting change at the urban scale requires collective action by a wide range of stakeholders. Managing large and complex programmes such as net-zero implementation, transport and mobility reform or the delivery of Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) is also difficult amid the urgency of day-to-day city management and because of the multidisciplinary skill sets its implementation demands.

We can offer short and longer term capacity to deliver programmes of change for cities, working in partnership with governments and development actors. Our experience and skills draw on a range of successful multi-million pound international programmes focused on urban mobility, smart cities, climate change and economic development across Asia, Africa and Latin America, with more focused competitiveness, sustainability and industrial strategy support to transformation plans for urban authorities in the UK and Europe.


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Contact us

Emma Cox

Emma Cox

Global Climate Leader, PwC United Kingdom

Dan Dowling

Dan Dowling

Partner, Net Zero Strategy & Transformation, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7715 487335

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