Toyota Launches $9 Million Sustainable Cities Challenge

Three lucky cities will be given $3 million each to implement solutions to their local mobility issues by 2025. The Toyota Mobility Foundation launched their new challenge on the 21st of June, calling for global cities to register online for a chance to win the funding. The challenge aims to develop accessible infrastructure and reduce carbon emissions in urban areas.

Call for Global Cities

The Toyota Mobility Foundation announced the opportunity for cities in their recent press release, seeking entries from local leaders, governments, agencies, and transport departments.

According to the Sustainable Cities Challenge website, ten cities will be shortlisted in October 2023 and given the chance to outline their local sustainability and mobility issues.

Out of these ten cities, three finalists will be chosen by February 2024 to host City Challenges. Local innovators from within these cities will be called to design proposals to tackling these issues, receiving up to $3 million each in funding.

From 2024 to 2025, finalist local innovators will be chosen by the winning cities to test the best solutions. On top of the $3 million prize, the winning solutions will continue to be funded by Toyota to help the innovators implement the designs into their city. 

$9 Million Funding … and More

The ten shortlisted cities will be invited to attend a US capacity building academy and will be provided with PR support to publicise the city’s participation. These cities will also have access to tailored sessions on their challenge design, as well as the opportunity to network with other city teams.

On top of the $9 million funding, the three winning cities will receive tailored support on urban mobility and innovative design, and publicity support to advertise the opportunity to local innovators. The cities will also receive guidance directly from the Toyota Mobility Foundation, Challenge Works, and the World Resources Institute.

Sustainable Cities

The main aim of the Sustainable Cities Challenge, according to the Toyota Mobility Foundation’s press release, is to “improve the lives of people by increasing access to jobs, education and other essential services” with “solutions that could reduce carbon, improve accessibility, and use data to build more resilient transport systems.”

The Toyota Mobility Foundation was founded in 2014 and works with institutions and organisations to improve mobility and sustainability issues around the world. Their particular mission is to design safe, environmental solutions for transportation systems, as well as to improve personal mobility for vulnerable populations.

The foundation has launched the Sustainable Cities Challenge in partnership with two other organisations. Challenge Works is a social enterprise that organises challenges with prizes to attract innovators, focusing on “the world’s biggest problems” including climate adaptation and social inclusion. World Resources Institute is an organisation that conducts global research on methods of supporting human needs through better city designs and climate stabilisation.

This collaboration, according to Kathy Nothstine, Head of Future Cities at Challenge Works, will “improve people’s lives.” Nothstine added, “Challenges like this can act as catalysts for change by accelerating innovation in real world settings.”

An Urban Solution

The Sustainable Cities Challenge tackles the environmental issues affecting urban areas.

Information from a recent 2023 report from the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) corresponds with the sustainability issues raised by the Toyota Mobility Foundation. The IPCC reported that in 2019, 79% of greenhouse gasses were emitted from sectors of energy, industry, transport, and buildings. The report also states that climate change has compromised urban infrastructure, particularly impacting the well-being of economically and socially marginalised populations.

The research and designs produced as a result of the Sustainable Cities Challenge could be significant for developments in climate adaptation. The 2023 IPCC report states that “Urban systems are critical for achieving deep emissions reductions and advancing climate resilient development.” The IPCC advises that adaptation solutions implemented in this decade “would reduce future losses and damages related to climate change for humans and ecosystems.” By developing mobility solutions for global cities’ current issues, the Sustainable Cities Challenge provides an opportunity for innovators to revolutionise urban climate systems.