Story of Roadmap 2030

Story of Roadmap 2030

Creating tools to enable the financing of resilient, sustainable cities


In 2011 Peter Head created the Ecological Sequestration Trust to bring together deep multi-disciplinary skills to foster new open-source forms of collaboration between the public and private sectors which would champion new and effective means of involving communities and mobilise their capacities for innovation through access to capital. This was effectively a completely new class of NGO that has been called a “resilience broker” by someone in the insurance industry.

Peter had concluded from his time at Arup that we needed to adopt a systems-centred approach to designing and financing a resilient, sustainable future for city regions, to address the systemic challenges of climate change, resource consumption, ecosystem destruction and urbanisation. He knew from experience that integrated planning of land use and infrastructure design was an essential component of success and this had to embrace human and ecological systems health and the economics of improving it.

Practical tools for this had never been built, but technology now made it possible and Peter wanted a platform for this to be in the hands of cities, free at end-use, as soon as possible as he described previously.

The Trust team travelled all over the world in Europe, India, Africa, China, Mongolia and Brazil to discuss the capability of such a platform and how it would be set up, governed and used. Their big breakthrough, with partner Future Earth Ltd, came in 2014 with commitment from DFID to include funding for the prototype development and testing of their new open source platform in the feasibility study for their Future Cities Africa Program with Cities Alliance. The prototype platform is now being used by the City of Accra in Ghana to design a project for improving the Water Sanitation and Hygiene conditions in the Greater Metropolitan Area.

In March 2015 the Trust got the support of the Rockefeller Foundation to host a high level meeting on how to finance improved planetary health and the delivery of the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals in city regions, with open data being used in a governance and decision making system using a platform like  This meeting concluded that setting up a dedicated Urban Development Investment Fund UDIF would be a good potential solution.

This meeting inspired another follow up high level meeting in March 2016 to create a Roadmap for delivering the SDGs by 2030 in the world’s city regions using this approach and so Roadmap 2030 was created and is undergoing an open consultation process in the run up to Habitat III. Later blogs will cover stories from the Roadmap 2030 evolution, but the focus here is to concentrate on the core tools for enabling the planning and financing of resilient, sustainable cities, which will be demonstrated in Ghana.

This is the world’s first open-source, Collaborative Human-Ecology-Economics Resource (CHEER) systems platform that enables resilient disaster risk sensitive planning, policy-making, investment and procurement for city-regions globally.

It is designed as a computer-based platform that provides an integrated systems view of a city-region. It is an analysis and decision-support tool for collaboration and resilience decision-making. The platform combines computer representations of resource flows, human and business activities and infrastructure systems. The platform contains a growing library of process models of typical human, industrial and ecological systems, the relevant ones of which are used in a local instance to create a tailored integrated systems model for a city-region.

It is designed to connect to many data sources, including from earth observation satellites, government and private sector data, local sensor networks, smart phones, tablets and local survey data. This data is processed by the systems model and visualised to give an improved understanding of the human, economic and ecological systems within a region including how these are interlinked.

Installing a local version of the model allows communities to manage both their economy and its critical supporting ecosystems on the basis of integrated systems insights. It allows city-regions globally to assess their current development path, taking account of the risks of climate change, resource scarcity and events and map out a more sustainable and resilient pathway. It is a tool for testing possible scenarios and driving towards a holistic set of social, environment and economic goals.

Urban Development Investment Fund UDIF

This potential mechanism for consideration by cities as a vehicle for development, is an enhancement of an urban agency concept into a financing vehicle, an Urban Development Investment Fund (UDIF) that can bring institutional investors, development finance and the public sector within cities together. This will build on an aggregator model
used in PPPs. This vehicle will serve as an aggregator of income from various sources within the cities (e.g. rates, taxes and user income from city services, including funds from sales of real estate to private investors or from development gains).

The vehicle will then act as an initiator, developer and creator of projects within the cities using as the tool for managing and providing the evidence for performance. It is envisaged that these will be relatively medium-sized projects (i.e. not transit systems or airports that would be large enough to attract capital as individual entities, but instead, for example, schools, hospitals, energy efficiency systems or biomass plants and community innovation schemes). The vehicle will also utilise as the planning tool to ensure city-wide engagement. It is envisaged that the ownership of the vehicle will be shared between the public and the private sector to ensure full transparency and accountability. Financing will be made available by those who would be attracted by the diversification benefits of investing in a series of projects, and leverage of around 70% could be raised. In the longer term, this vehicle could be rated to ensure an efficient and lower cost of capital