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Source: Auckland Council

Auckland is one of 50 Champion Cities selected today as finalists in the 2021 Global Mayors Challenge, a global innovation competition that identifies and accelerates the most ambitious ideas developed by cities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

These 50 urban innovations rose to the top of a competitive pool of more than 630 applications from 99 countries, in the first-ever Global Mayors Challenge.

The entry from Auckland Council will see the development of a carbon portal and dashboard to measure the carbon footprint of infrastructure programmes and show where carbon outputs can be reduced through design, material selection and construction processes.

Mayor Phil Goff said he was pleased that Auckland Council’s submission has received global recognition.

“Auckland Council’s 10-year Budget 2021-31 allocates $32 billion into critical infrastructure to stimulate economic growth and support our COVID-19 economic recovery,” he says.

“With construction accounting for around 11 per cent of carbon emissions, it’s an area where we need to see greater innovation if we are to meet our goal of halving emissions by 2030.

“I welcome the development of this tool, which will help us achieve our infrastructure goals as well as our emissions reduction targets.

“It’s fantastic that Auckland has been recognised by Bloomberg Philanthropies and that with their support, the Auckland Council team can now enter the development and testing phase for the tool.”

As a Mayors Challenge finalist, Auckland now advances to the four-month Champion Phase of the competition. From June through October, the 50 finalist cities will refine their ideas with technical assistance from Bloomberg Philanthropies and its network of leading innovation experts.

Governance Director and Auckland Council Group COVID-19 Recovery Manager Phil Wilson sponsored the competition application and says that the power of the tool will be in its universal application across the industry.

“While the development of the tool is being led by the Auckland Council Healthy Waters team, they are collaborating closely with the council group and industry so that the portal meets the needs of both public and private development”, he says.

“The challenge of delivering infrastructure for growth and economic stimulus while also combating carbon emissions is something that local government and organisations in New Zealand and around the world will have to grapple with, and this portal could present a solution for all”, says Wilson.

General Manager of Healthy Waters Craig McIlroy says the tool will fill a critical gap in measuring the impact of infrastructure. “Currently there isn’t anything like this readily available to us so it will be a significant leap forward to have an effective way to measure and manage carbon output in our programmes.”

“The mark of success will be creating a user-friendly portal and dashboard so it can be easily used for projects. Making it available to everyone involved in the infrastructure lifecycle will lead to a consistent way for the industry to embed a carbon reduction philosophy into their work”, he says.

Fifteen of the 50 cities will ultimately win the grand prize, with each receiving USD$1 million and robust multi-year technical assistance to implement and scale their ideas. Grand prize winners will be announced in early 2022.

“If Auckland is successful in becoming one of the 15 winning cities, with Bloomberg Philanthropies support the tool could be scaled up and made available to other cities”, says Wilson.