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This proposal was moved here from The Smart Zero Carbon Cities Challenge 2016


A Citizen-led initiative for the collective construction of Low Carbon Cities



We are a Citizen-led initiative driven by volunteers worldwide which promotes a social mobilization for the collective construction of Low Carbon Cities through awareness and communication strategies, training, and promotion of urban innovations in different sectors such as energy, transport, construction, industry and waste.

Within the project we emphasize tools that generate participation of, cooperation between as well as ownership of citizens, the public and the private sector alike. 

Our objective is: We are all part of the solution!


The initiative will have a major event in October 2016 in Medellín, Colombia. The Low Carbon City Forum will be the first global citizen-led forum on low carbon cities aiming to bring together more than 3,000 citizens, politicians, academics, urban leaders and change-makers from around the world. The event will tackle climate change from a localized and citizen-driven approach putting forward urban solutions, strategies and new alliances for building a low carbon urban future.

Before the Forum itself various activities are being organized to place the importance of low carbon urban development on the public agenda and mindset. These activities includes workshops, pre-forums, trainings, open online discussions with experts, and tactical urbanism activities in different cities. The initiative already has 60 ambassador cities worldwide.

global network of actors interested in the collective construction of low carbon cities is being created to allow interaction and sharing of experiences and knowledge around technical and practical work in the public, private and civil sector by different virtual, educational and media instruments. This helps to identify and replicate knowledge and solutions all over the world.

Our team has more than 62 promoters and 5 interns worldwide, and a group of 120 volunteers based in Medellin.

What actions do you propose?

In the policy making process, the civil society has an important role identifying problems, but also in the agenda setting and policy development. As a citizen movement we find out problems and can push  policy makers to find solutions together with all involved sectors and actors.

With our initiative we want to put the issue of low carbon cities in the public agenda as alternative to mitigate climate change. Additionally, through our communication and awareness strategy we want to encourage citizen ownership of the problem, and promote the participation of public and private sector. 

To mobilize citizens we need to inspire, motivate, educate, empower, and lead by example. Thus, we are activating a growing community with creative and viral strategies for citizens to participate and understand the necessary steps to foster Low Carbon Cities through different activities. To empower individuals to adopt sustainable lifestyles, our project consists in education, communication and awareness about low carbon lifestyles. Our Goal is to keep those activities growing, to reach more citizens and organizations that are able to engage in our movement worldwide.

Our message is: We are all part of the solution.

Our project has a big component of political participation, expecting as a result that politicians include the topic in the development plans of our cities (policy making participation).

Citizens engagement  is our priority. Therefore we promote activities like: Poster design and photography competitions, call for proposals for urban interventions, call for proposals for building the agenda, call for partner cities, intervention of public space: tactical urbanism activities, different campaigns recommending to reduce emissions, interactive map of Low Carbon Projects, Pre-Forums: small scale forum in different cities and workshops for “My Low Carbon Neighborhood”.

We already have explored some creative and viral strategies through a first Poster Competition in the first half of 2016. We received 80 creative posters from 20 cities around the world. (here are the finalists:  ( These posters have been shared widely in social media reaching more than 10 thousand people

Also, our recent urban interventions in the Botero sculpture park in Medellín was massively diffused in national and international media. This tactical urbanism activity was aimed at raising awareness on the problems that cities are facing in terms of air pollution, climate change and the need to massively decarbonize our cities. (here all the links of Colombian and international media that covered the intervention

We also create policy papers based on academic and practical experiences and we use it not only as policy tool but also as communications tool for all stakeholders included.

Additionally, the promotion of International cooperation among cities and subnational actors is another instrument that serve to the project. Our Ambassador Cities/citizens worldwide (60) are developing different activities such as talks, pre-forums, urban and artistic interventions, workshops, creative campaigns to raise public awareness, and even developing innovative projects to promote low-carbon cities. Each city finds its own means to expose its activities locally, however our social networks are used to keep our public engaged and informed. The Ambassador City network is growing steadily.

With our project we want to build a vision of sustainable lifestyles by communication and sharing experiences worldwide and connecting all actors and sectors to work together in the construction of low carbon cities. A result the low carbon city network is being created which includes stakeholders of all over the world. The aim is to have a room to share and generate interaction of knowledge and experiences that allow to work with the private, public, academic and civil sector in low carbon cities by multiple virtual, educational and communicational instruments.

One example is the “Low Carbon City TV channel” (hashtag #LCCFTV) on YouTube inviting stakeholders, experts from various organizations and citizens to discuss issues related to Low Carbon Cities. So far we have recorded eight online conversations in English and Spanish language. Some of the topics until now have been, circular economy, air pollution, citizen engagement, Paris agreement, renewable energy, sustainable building, and COP 21. More than 1200 people have viewed the recording of these conversations already. We have engaged our strategic partners as well as high-level advocacy groups in these conversations. The series is projected to continue with a monthly online conversation each in Spanish and English language. See the #LCCFTV channel here:

Additionally, one of our aims is identify and promote existing sectorial initiatives worldwide. Important is to find experiences and projects that measure and track the benefits of their actions and can show clearly their success and evaluate their impact and contribution to reduce GHG emissions. See Call for proposals

We expect to improve knowledge and awareness of the actors involved concerning to the connection between our everyday behaviors and reducing GHG emissions, in order to maximize sources of low carbon energy, improve efficiency in service delivery and reduce the emission of Co2 in general. We expect to create knowledge exchange and collaboration between international experts that will allow us to carry out replicable solutions at low costs. We estimate to build a self-sustaining Network where actors from different countries and sectors are connected able to share their experiences, knowledge, ideas to disseminate and promote successful solutions, and also to evaluate the current situation to have a base for further action.

We expect a strong citizens participating and influencing public policy.

In numbers, at the end of the project we expect to impact more than 12.000 actors (citizens, media, public, private and academic sector) worldwide.

Our main goal is to spread the word about the Cities as the best venue to mitigate climate change and look for low carbon development without compromising development. This vision imply that the challenges the developing word faces in terms of social development, overcoming of poverty and environment could be all addressed from the perspective of collective construction of low carbon cities.

What do we want to achieve with the Low Carbon City Initiative?

  • Placing the issue on the public agenda as an alternative to tackle climate change from a local and multi-stakeholder perspective that allows different sectors and actors to contribute to building low carbon societies.

  • Discuss and build a roadmap for Low Carbon Cities including tools, academic evidence, scalable projects, and a network of stakeholders willing to work in the issue.

  • Identify, and promote sectorial and already existing initiatives to be scalable in other cities and context.

  • Sharing of knowledge and best practices across geography, gender, culture and social or professional background.

Expected results

  • Participation: More than 12,000 mobilized worldwide and 3.000 participants in the Low Carbon Cities Forum (citizens + public sector + private sector + media experts).

  • Publication: Guide for the Colective Costruction of LCC:  The objective is to create a practical tool targeted to local governments, private organizations, civil society and citizens to develop and scale up low cost and high impact solutions to change behaviors and mitigate climate change. What makes this Guide different to other already developed by other organizations is that it will include innovative low cost and high impact solutions to reduce GHG emissions in different sectors, that can be scaled up among different actors. It is an alternative to systematize and share to the world the experiences and projects we have been identifying in our movement that deserves to be shown due to their low cost and high impacts, and also be replicated. Large cities have access and resources to the knowledge and technologies to implement important projects regarding climate change mitigation. However, it is still a challenge to reach small and medium cities, that are more likely to grow with unsustainable patterns. Through our movement and specifically the Guide, we want to reach those small and medium cities that are experiencing a rapid growth, to have new alternatives that not only are plausible but also that involve citizens as part of the change. Some of the principles of the construction of the Guide are: It will be online and with free access, linked to our LCC Network with the possibility of interaction with the experiences and projects shown in the Guide; It Is built collectively, It means through the knowledge sharing and identifications of projects of the Network; The graphic material of the publication is obtained from the different Photo/posters and other creative contest made through LCC platform; Propositional language; Is not only a publication, is a tool for interaction and knowledge sharing: As part of the project, there is a schedule of socialization for 2017 in different open events; Citizens are part of the solutions and can lead the change in their cities and communities.

  • Low Carbon Cities Network: To ensure the interaction after the forum continues, by the end of 2016 we aim to have more than 500 government, business and citizen groups participating and interacting in a global and multi-stakeholder network. The network, which will use an online platform connecting participants through online forums, event series, business and project identification, and a variety of inter-sectorial strategies.

  • Business Development: Speed-dates between innovative projects at the sectorial level, entrepreneurs and businessmen, with the aim of identifying potential escalations of projects.

  • Partnership promotion: Since our initiative is open to the public and we look for the involvement of multiple stakeholders, we want to become partners with different organizations locally and worldwide. Until now we have content or communication partnership with: EAFIT and CES Universities, Ministry of Environment, WHO, UN-Habitat, Connect4Climate, WWF, French Development Agency, World Resources Institute, NCD Alliance, Partnership for Sustainable and Low-Carbon Transport (SLoCaT), The South Pole Group, YoutHab, Walk21 Network, Red Uruguaya de Ciudades Sustentables, Friends of the Earth UK, Urban Future Global Conference, 

  • The LCC Network, which is one of the main outcomes of the LCC Forum during October of 2016 is the starting point to make those partnerships work. However, although every citizen, university, NGO, private or public organization interested in Low Carbon City is welcome to partner with us, we have an especial interest to partner with C40, and ICLEI. This is mainly because we want to become a “citizen voice” to share ideas and experiences on how to engage citizens and different subnational actors that converge in cities, in the challenges that the Paris Agreement, as well as the New Urban Agenda represent for decarbonizing our cities. We believe that working together specifically with C40, we can move forward towards the “polisdigitocracy” of climate change mitigation and the building of Low carbon cities, and becoming in a stronger voice to shifting behaviors in our communities. Our work complements what ICLEI and C40 are already doing at policy level. by working together we can reach more actors and involving citizens.



Who will take these actions?

The LCC project wants to promote a massive social mobilization to build Low-carbon Cities. We want to place the issue of low carbon urban development on the public agenda as an urgent strategy to tackle climate change from a local and multi-stakeholder perspective that allows different sectors and actors to contribute to building low carbon societies.

Although the actions proposed are leaded by the citizens, to achieve a social mobilization we need to raise awareness, communicate and improve the knowledge of all social actors, to boost their participation. Considering it is important to discuss and build a roadmap for Low Carbon Cities including tools, academic evidence, scalable projects, and a stakeholder network to work in the issue, we will identify and promote sectorial and already existing initiatives to be scalable in other cities and contexts, and share knowledge and best practices across geography, gender, culture and social or professional background.

When considering that the Initiative aims to enable and empower participants with practical knowledge and instruments to mitigate climate change, the most immediate actor called to take actions are:

Public sector: Mayors and Governors, adopting low carbon sectorial policies. Setting emission reduction targets by sector.

Private sector: Large and small industries (transport, construction, waste management, industry, agriculture, energy, etc.) Reducing their emissions, and promoting developments in technology and innovation, financing climate friendly initiatives.

Civil society: Citizens and groups of citizens, adopting new low carbon consumption patterns. Mobilizing towards new conscious lifestyles. 

Academy: Universities, Promoting research and innovations for Low carbon cities

Media: see how

Strategic partners: see who

Where will these actions be taken?

The Low Carbon City initiative was born in Medellin, Colombia, however it has rapidly spread in Colombia and over the world, and now it has 60 ambassador cities in Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America and the Caribbean. The map with the initiatives being developed in each city here:

When it comes to climate change mitigation, usually we find that solutions come from developed world. It also happens in terms of institution building, and international organizations, that they are born in developed world.  We think that there are also very interesting processes taking place in developing world that could contribute to the global effort. Therefore it is important that a global movement for climate change is born in a developing country like Colombia.

As Paris Agreement suggested, subnational actors are called to contribute to the global effort, in this sense Medellin could lead this call, since it has quickly become important in the international scene for the development of scalable innovative projects in terms of sustainability. The city also has an important network of citizens committed to its low carbon development, that through different activities contribute to the policy making, and behavioral change. This scenario represents an opportunity for starting a project with a Glocal perspective.

Additionally, according to the WHO’s Ambient Air Pollution Database, 2014, Medellin is the city with the most polluted air in Colombia, and according the CAI, emissions from the transport sector will increase 50% within the next 10 years. Those figures are critical but we are on time to change that pattern. Leading a project like this from Medellin and putting the city at the center of a global discussion will make that our politicians, citizens and representatives from all sectors acknowledge the importance to become a low carbon city and change behaviors and attitudes towards the problem. 

How will these actions have a high impact in addressing climate change?

The project can't measure the exact GHG emissions reduction, because our initiative consists in communication, awareness, training, sharing and construction of a strong citizens voice in terms of low carbon cities.

We expect as results of our work, a big number of social actors working on the construction of low carbon solutions and projects that have a big impact on GHG emission reduction in the long run. Additionally, we expect that the activities of the project will have an impact on behavioral change of citizens. The way to measure is the number of actors in the network, taking actions and registers in the virtual platform.

The project was launched on December 15 of 2015. To the date: 3.564 citizens mobilized, 60 ambassador cities taking actions, 20 events promoted. See our history

Our community in social networks is: Facebook 2.033, Twitter 10.778, Web Page 5.000 monthly visits


What are other key benefits?

The initiative was created as an alternative to respond to a growing need to address climate change at local level and generate education platforms, identifying solutions, collective construction, and interaction between various stakeholders to guide the future of cities.

Low Carbon city Initiative looks forward to responding to these challenges, using the concept of “Collective Building of Low Carbon cities”. This is an innovation in the field of sustainability that can be an alternative to mitigate climate change from the local perspective. We are looking for sharing and promoting innovations, solutions and experiences that incorporate different sectors and actors to reduce their GHG.

A citizen-led forum has an important advantage: Everybody feels responsible and everybody will feel that they are able to make a difference through a change of habits and behaviors. A change will only be made through integration and exchange between all actors inter-connected. 

What are the proposal’s costs?

The total cost of the initiative is 178.000 USD. See details here

The Total budget of the project is quantified according to the main outcomes of the initiative: the Forum, the Guide and the Network. However, it does not count the working hours of the volunteers worldwide, the local resources used to develop awareness activities, or the collaborative and free or charge events organized in our platform. If we value all of those contributions the budget would increase.

Since Low Carbon City movement is a collaborative Platform, we have developed our activities through contributions from each volunteer or if needed through local fundraising.  

The Valle de Aburrá Metropolitan Área, the French Development Agency, the French Embassy in Colombia, and the Development Bank of Latin América have expressed their interest to support the initiative in the long term.


Time line

The first phase of the project, during 2016, will position the importance of building low carbon cities on the public agenda. This will be done through the activities already mentioned. This first phase culminates with a Global Forum on Low Carbon Cities, which will take place in October 10-12 in Medellin, Colombia.

To maintain the work in the long term, the Network will keep the topic in the public agenda, not only through its interaction but also through different activities born within.  

We believe in the power of shifting behaviors during that first phase, at private, public, and citizen level. That is the reason why we would like to move forward to a second stage of the project considering an implementation phase.

In the implementation phase two pilot projects will be carried out in two Colombian cities.

The idea is the creation of "Low Carbon Neighborhoods" by integrating four structural areas: Energy, Mobility, Waste and Urban agriculture. The methodology for implementing low carbon neighborhoods is being studied right now by our team, and we are looking forward to implement it in future, not only from academic perspective. 

The project team is aiming to adapt this project also to a smaller scale during a planned third stage, where medium and small cities will be partners for the Low Carbon Cities initiative. 

For that phase, public and private partnership are being developed from now.  

In the log term we believe the project will become in a new generation of citizens, conscious about their lifestyles, and consumption patterns, living in a zero carbon world, in a circular economy, in breathable and livable cities.   

Related proposals

The majority of the proposals related to climate change mitigation have a relation with the project. At some point each of them can belong to the network we are building to share experiences and practices in different sectors. Hopefully we can meet and join efforts to make one strong voice. and also we hope they can join us in the World Low Carbon City Forum in October 10-12 in Medellín. 

However  "Engajamundo" can definitely be part of our movement. there is a big potential to be partners and we want them to join us for the Forum in October, and have them as ambassador of Low Carbon Cities in Brazil

EvolutionR is also building an online platform for individuals and organizations to finance projects. Although ours is for sharing experiences from the network we can have things in common.


1. Low Carbon Transition is a matter for engaged citizens:[controller]=News&tx_news_pi1[action]=detail&cHash=e5d38ac27e60119d12304a4c63875b2c

2. Polisdigitocracy: Digital Technology, Citizen Engagement and Climate Action

The use of public engagement in tackling climate change

How Citizen Engagement can help us Address Complex Issues like Climate Change

Guidelines on Citizens’ Engagement for Development Management and Public Governance