The International Federation of Consulting Engineers (FIDIC) and its European member association, the European Federation of Engineering Consultancy Associations (EFCA), have voiced their support for an initiative to boost the development of resource-efficient cities.

The United Nations Environment Programme's Global Initiative for Resource Efficient Cities (GIREC) was launched today at the RIO+20 conference - the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development - taking place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The GIREC initiative provides information on resource efficiency and sustainable consumption, and policy advice on public and private funding. It also aims to provide a network for decision makers to exchange experiences, share best practices and establish a peer-review process.

In an EFCA-FIDIC white paper, Re-think Cities, the trade bodies said the risks linked to climate change were far more wide-reaching and complex than the level for which society is currently preparing itself, and many of these risks are directly linked to urban development.

"The sector calls for action to be taken urgently to avoid irreversible consequences for society's well-being and living conditions. It considers that urban areas are the major source of problems linked to climate change," FIDIC said.

"Cities need to face the inevitable long-term soaring of energy costs, limited water resources and proliferation of waste. There is thus an urgent need for efficient and preventive solutions for the development of resource efficient cities."

In order to face up to these issues, it will be necessary to re-think the traditional model of urban development, according to FIDIC, and standard solutions will not be enough.

"The success of these programmes depends on a collaborative effort based on the transfer of knowledge, tools and methods which the UNEP programme will favour and to which engineering consultants will contribute with their experience in the international market."

It is hoped that agreement will be reached on the establishment of the GIREC proposal during the RIO+20 conference, which runs until 22 June.

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