With over 75 percent of the world's green house gases generated in municipal areas, cities play a crucial role in addressing climate change. Mayors across North America from Vancouver to Miami are taking action to ensure that their cities are a part of the solution. Over 900 cities in the US alone have signed the Mayor's Climate Protection Agreement to meet green house gas reductions equivalent to those outlined in the Kyoto Protocol.

The commitment and action of these Mayors has led to a growth in city staff dedicated to sustainable urban development, pursuing policies and actions from recycling and green building to green jobs and climate change planning. While this committed cadre of local government leaders has burgeoned, they have worked in isolation of each other, often tackling similar issues as their peers across the country without a national network to share experiences and partner.

An executive planning committee of seven cities led by Chicago and Seattle began working in 2007 to build the Urban Sustainability Directors Network, a national learning network of leaders in sustainability positions across North America. With lead funding from the Surdna Foundation to Global Philanthropy Partnership, the network was launched in early 2009. In September, it held its first annual meeting in Chicago with over 65 Directors, from a diverse group of cities, including Austin, Burlington, Cleveland, Fayetteville, Halifax, New York, Seattle, and Toronto. The goal of the network is to allow city leaders to learn from each other and accelerate achievement of ambitious city sustainability initiatives.

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Fostering sustainable communities in the United States — communities guided by principles of social justice and distinguished by healthy environments, strong local economies, and thriving cultures.