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The Earth Institute Raises $3.8 Million to Support the Millennium Cities Initiative

Jeff Sachs shakes hands with the Mayor of Accra

The Earth Institute successfully completed a $1.9 million landmark challenge grant, awarded by the Tides Foundation, to benefit the Millennium Cities Initiative (MCI). Because of the Tides challenge and our generous donors, a total of $3.8 million has been raised to support the project’s work to help targeted mid-sized cities across sub-Saharan Africa promote sustainable development and achieve the Millennium Development Goals, eight internationally-endorsed benchmarks designed to end extreme poverty.  The MCI also works with the Vale Columbia Center on Sustainable International Investment, its partner for increasing foreign direct investment in the Millennium Cities.

In order to catalyze additional support of the MCI, the Tides Foundation matched new gifts or grants to the MCI through June 2010 at a 1:1 ratio up to a total of $1.9 million. Thanks to more than 25 donors including Charles and Elizabeth Bowlus; the Baltimore Community Foundation; Gary Cohen; Johnson & Johnson; Ann Kaplan; The Lester Foundation; the Government of Mekelle, Ethiopia; DLA Piper; Kwame Sarpong; Sam Amoako-Poku; the UK Charities Trust; Winnington Land Ltd.; and the Jacquelyn and Gregory Zehner Foundation, the Earth Institute and the MCI were able to meet the Tides challenge.

The cutting-edge work of the MCI has gained a real boost from the Tides Foundation support and has made great strides since the challenge began in 2008. “This wonderful challenge grant is a tremendous expression of confidence in MCI’s strategy and mission that…will enable us to serve our Millennium Cities with the wide array of interventions planned for them,” said Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute, Columbia University when the challenge was announced. “It presents a terrific opportunity for the MCI to demonstrate that its approach can succeed in helping the Millennium Cities, and also the populations of many other under-resourced cities in sub-Saharan Africa and beyond, to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.”

Map of the Millennium Cities

Currently, the MCI works in 11 Millennium Cities in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal and Tanzania, using research and policy analysis to assist these cities in achieving the MDGs. More specifically, MCI helps these regional urban centers to attract more investment to spur increased employment and domestic enterprise development. The MCI team also assists in bringing about improvements in the delivery of vital social services and pays special attention to the urban – rural linkages, particularly with the Millennium Villages.

Some of the most recent advances in the MCI have been with new gifts and matching Tides support for work in Ghana.  With a contribution from the American Academy of Pediatrics and Johnson & Johnson, the MCI is helping to pilot a capacity strengthening program in neonatal survival and newborn care in the Millennium Cities of Accra and Kumasi, Ghana, as an operational research project of the Accra and Kumasi Metropolitan Health Directorates. During the first phase of what will be a three-part training series, a total of 60 caregivers, primarily midwives and community health nurses on the front lines of maternal care and infant delivery, are being trained in the two cities.

Ghanaian preschoolers

As the largest of the Millennium Cities, Accra provides a unique opportunity to help devise creative, comprehensive solutions to seemingly intractable urban problems such as flooding, erosion, climate change, access to clean water, transportation, health facilities, schools, energy and jobs. As Susan Blaustein, MCI Co-Director explains, “our approach is to bring in partners, both local and multinational , and help facilitate applied research and dialogue to start to think about cities as holistic organisms.”

Together with the Vale Columbia Center and the support of the Government of Finland, Government of Kenya and United Nations Development Programme, the MCI recently produced the Handbook for Promoting Foreign Direct Investment in Medium-Size, Low-Budget Cities in Emerging Markets. This Investment Promotion Handbook is intended to assist the Millennium Cities in strengthening their capacity to promote investment opportunities. It is available at Observes Karl P. Sauvant, MCI Co-Director: “Without more investment – and the economic development it brings – cities will not be viable.”

As an example of sustainable investment to promote green economies, the MCI recently helped to negotiate an agreement to build a waste-to-energy power plant with an upgraded waste management system in the Millennium City of Bamako, Mali. The goal is to contribute to a cleaner environment in Bamako and significantly increase the supply of electricity to the city while also generating jobs. The power plant will be established on a BOOT (build, own, operate and transfer) basis and will be turned over to the Government of Mali after 15 years.

There is a sense of optimism in the Millennium Cities as their citizens are able to take action and see signs of tangible economic and social change. Thanks to the collective support of the Tides Challenge grant and the many committed donors who helped the MCI match these funds, these impacts have been doubled.

Banner featuring a collage of extreme heat images.

Recent record-breaking heat waves have affected communities across the world. The Extreme Heat Workshop will bring together researchers and practitioners to advance the state of knowledge, identify community needs, and develop a framework for evaluating risks with a focus on climate justice. Register by June 15

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