By Mike Gaworecki

Eleven cities from around the world were celebrated recently in Mexico City at the C40 Cities Awards for their commitment to innovation in the fight against climate change.

The eleven-year-old C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group brings together officials from 85 of the world’s great cities that collectively represent one quarter of the global economy. The group’s focus is spurring urban initiatives that reduce greenhouse gas emissions while increasing the health, well-being and economic opportunity of the more 650 million people who call those 85 cities home.

Sponsored by Bloomberg Philanthropies and Chinese green-tech developer BYD, the C40 Cities Awards recognized the “best and boldest” work being done by mayors to fight climate change and protect their constituents from climate risks.

“The winning projects show that great progress is being made on every continent, and they serve as an inspiration to other cities,” C40 President of the Board and U.N. Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change Michael R. Bloomberg said in a statement. “They also show how cities can help the world meet the ambitious goals set a year ago in Paris.”

A panel of former mayors and climate experts selected the ten cities that they felt had adopted the most ambitious and effective urban sustainability programs in the world—and C40 partnered with the Associated Press to capture images of each winning city’s projects, allowing you a sneak peek whether you live near one of them or not.

“Today, we celebrate some of the projects that are key to delivering on the world’s climate ambition and will help put us on a path to a carbon-safe future,” Chuanfu Wang, chairman and president of BYD Co. Ltd, said at the awards ceremony. “We recognise the incredible human power and thoughtful consideration that goes into making these projects reality.”

1. Addis Ababa, Ethiopa

The city of Addis Ababa is a winner of the C40 Awards 2016 in the Transportation Category. The Addis Ababa Light Rail Transit (LRT) Project has improved the city’s public transport system and created more than 6,000 jobs. The cumulative emission reduction potential of the LRT system is forecasted at 1.8 million tCO2e by 2030.

A lady holding her baby wrapped in a white shawl is transported on an Addis Ababa LRT.
An Addis Ababa Light Rail Tram passes through Ethiopia’s largest business district Merakto.
Pedestrians look out over commercial and residential buildings on the city skyline. Nearby an Addis Ababa light rail tram passes by.

2. Copenhagen, Denmark

The city of Copenhagen is a winner of the C40 Awards 2016 in the Adaptation in Action category. Copenhagen is threatened by sea level rise and heavy downpours. The Cloudburst Management Plan is an integrated system of green streets and pocket parks that will function as water retention areas and water basins. Thus it will not only deal with the risk of flooding—it is also an opportunity to create green growth, to increase the number of recreational areas across the city, and to improve the quality of life and increase health.

In the suburb of Tåsinge Plads drains can be seen where water is guided through into underground basins.
Drains have been constructed in the Gammel Strand suburb to send rain water into the nearby canal.
Drains are being built in the Gammel Strand suburb to send rain water into the nearby canal.

3. Curitiba, Brazil

The city of Curitiba is a winner of the C40 Awards 2016 in the Sustainable Communities category. Since 1986, Curitiba’s Urban Agriculture Program has used empty public spaces to encourage communities to grow their own food. In addition to creating sustainable communities, the project reduces greenhouse gas emissions: directly through carbon sequestration in soil and biological nitrogen fixation by legumes and non-use of chemical nitrogen fertilizers; and indirectly by reducing food and waste transport distances, composting organic waste, reduction of “heat islands” and creating environmental awareness.

A young adult with special needs in a vegetable garden adapted for wheelchair users in a school in the outskirts of Curitiba.
A woman holds produce grown in a community garden under the high voltage electricity grid in the community of Rio Bonito, outskirts of the city of Curitiba.
Students of the municipal public network in class learning about healthy foods and the cultivation of vegetables on Nov. 17, in the Municipal Market of Curitiba.

4. Kolkata, India

The city of Kolkata is a winner of the C40 Awards 2016 in the Solid Waste category. Kolkata’s climate change risks have been…