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2019: Action on climate in 23 cities

Cities are home to the majority of the world’s population. They are on the climate change frontline — both in how they fuel its progress and how they experience its challenges.

In 2019, we launched My Mark: My City. Working in 23 cities across 18 countries, we brought innovative and dynamic organisations together to tackle local environmental problems and co-create solutions that might have the potential to scale and transform city life worldwide.

One of our partners experiencing first-hand the accelerating effects of climate change is the Anchorage Museum in Alaska. For My Mark: My City, they wanted to spread a message of climate optimism and action to the city's citizens, installing massive public messages like this one. Photo: Hanna Craig

Over five months, more than 20,000 people came together for physical events, and we reached more than 2 million people online.

As our first public initiative, we wanted to understand more about what drives people to take action on sustainability, and how local ideas might connect and scale globally. By working with a network of local organisations we discovered just how impactful culture and creativity can be in mobilising people to take action.

Margarita Baena leads a working session at the Maloka Museum in Bogotá as part of My Mark: My City. Photo: Tom Laffay

The Maloka Museum in Bogotá hosted the launch of VozTerra - a collective of citizens who formed after meeting at a My Mark: My City event. Here, Rafa Puyana tells the audience how the group has recorded sounds from nature reserves around Bogotá in the hope of reconnecting people to the natural world around them. Photo: Daniel Bretón

In Bogotá, scientific and artistic communities joined forces to try and imagine ways of deepening the connection between city residents and the biodiversity that surrounds them. The result is VozTerra – a platform where everyone can contribute to a crowd-sourced ‘sound map’ of the city. The growing library of sounds demonstrates just how close to nature we all really are, and is helping shape a longer-term musical project that continues to grow.

A jury member stands and makes his case at a My Mark: My City event in Nairobi which used storytelling and communal justice to reconcile different perspectives on the huge local dumpsite at Dandora. Photo: Daniel Onyango

In Nairobi, we helped connect community arts organisations, urban planners and university students who worked together to address the impact of the Dandora trash dump – one of Africa's largest unregulated landfill sites that receives more than 2,000 tonnes of waste every day. The site has a debated legacy, both as a cause of unsanitary living conditions, and as a provider of economic employment for rubbish-pickers. Using traditions of communal justice, storytelling and the work of artists, the group devised solutions for how the harmful pollutive effects of the dump could be confronted. As a result, two of the project participants have been invited to join Nairobi county government’s Urban Development Committee as voices for sustainable development, and the group now leads its annual Place Making Week.

Zubaida and Qoot, students of the University of Jordan, add to a collaborative mural imagining what Amman would look like in a greener and more sustainable future. Photo: Annesofie Norn

In Amman, we brought experts from architecture, cultural heritage, film and visual art together for a rare collaboration with local students to generate ideas to make their city greener. The group alighted upon the distinctive and eye-catching characteristic of Amman – its flat roofs – as an opportunity, and have created a prototype roof garden. Our partners are now working to replicate and scale this project across the city.

Participants of a MM: MC event in São Paulo hold a forum to discuss creative solutions for larger cities. Photo: Bela Baderna

To read more about all of the partners, projects, and people involved across 23 countries in My Mark: My City, please visit the campaign microsite.

We’d like to thank DANIDA for their generous support for this programme.

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