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WRI Ross Prize for Cities to celebrate urban transformation projects

Well over half of the world’s population lives in cities, and more than two-thirds will do so by the middle of this century. This trend will bring new possibilities as well as risks: cities can be drivers of opportunity, creativity and growth – or lead to more waste, pollution and suffering. The trajectory of many cities needs to change, spurred by transformative solutions that go beyond a single block or street. With the generous support of visionary business leader and philanthropist Stephen M. Ross, World Resources Institute’s Ross Center for Sustainable Cities is announcing the “WRI Ross Prize for Cities,” a global competition to identify, celebrate and replicate transformative urban initiatives. “I believe passionately in the power of unique urban projects to profoundly impact cities,” said Stephen M. Ross, Chairman and Founder, Related Companies.

“Transformative projects can create a ripple effect, creating significant economic impact, igniting citywide change and spurring innovation across the globe. This prize is designed to recognize the innovators that are improving our streets and positively impacting our neighborhoods, and inspire others with their ideas and achievements.” Beginning in January 2018, WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities will accept nominations from individuals or groups for projects that sparked transformative urban change but have yet to achieve the recognition they deserve. Nominees can be from the public or private sector, or civil society.

A jury of mayors, leading urban thinkers and private sector representatives will then select five finalists. From the finalists, a winner will receive the $250,000 WRI Ross Prize for Cities. Projects will be judged based on:

  • Demonstrable impact. What effect has an initiative had on a project site and beyond, based on economic, social, and environmental indicators?
  • Potential for future impact. Has an initiative overcome a longstanding challenge or bottleneck?

Such transformations can allow pent-up change to accelerate and adjust peoples’ sense of what’s possible. “How we build cities needs to change and needs to change fast,” said Ani Dasgupta, Global Director, WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities. “We need to do more with less, and that’s why these projects with a multiplier effect are so important.” A key element of the Ross Prize is to understand and learn from transformative projects that are not yet well known.

Comparable projects that have already received international recognition include: New York City’s High Line Park; Bogotá, Colombia’s CicloRuta bike path; Seoul, South Korea’s Cheonggyecheon Riverwalk; and Medellín, Colombia’s Metrocable. Attributes of these award-winning projects include creating high-quality recreational areas, reducing dependence on cars, improving air quality, adding public green space, connecting underserved communities to services and opportunities, improving bike lanes, increasing public transit ri

dership, growing tourism, raising land values and more. Not all transformative solutions need to be brick and mortar projects. For example, Surat, India, turned a plague outbreak into an opportunity to reform the health system and transform the city by improving waste management, adding new public health monitoring and managing flood risk. Submissions of this kind will also be considered. To learn more about the Ross Prize, including how to submit nominations and support the prize, visit


About World Resources Institute WRI is a global research organization that spans more than 50 countries, with offices in the United States, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico and more. Our more than 700 experts and staff work closely with leaders to turn big ideas into action at the nexus of environment, economic opportunity and human well-being. More information at About WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities helps create accessible, equitable, healthy and resilient urban areas for people, businesses and the environment to thrive. Together with partners, it enables connected, compact and coordinated cities. The Center expands the transport and urban development expertise of the EMBARQ network to catalyze innovative solutions in other sectors, including water, buildings, land use and energy. It combines the research excellence of WRI with 15 years of on-the-ground impact through a network of more than 200 experts working from Brazil, China, India, Mexico and Turkey to make cities around the world better places to live. More information at

About Stephen Ross: Stephen M. Ross is the Chairman and Founder of Related Companies, the owner of the Miami Dolphins, and a passionate philanthropist. Related has developed preeminent mixed-use projects including Time Warner Center in New York, CityPlace in West Palm Beach, and is currently developing the 28-acre Hudson Yards project on Manhattan’s West Side and Grand Avenue in downtown Los Angeles. The company is one of the largest owners of affordable housing across the nation and was recently named one of the 50 Most Innovative Companies in the World by Fast Company Magazine.

Mr. Ross serves on the Executive Committee and is a trustee of Lincoln Center, and is a trustee of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. He is a director on the board of the Jackie Robinson Foundation, the New York Stem Cell Foundation, and The Shed. Mr. Ross is also a director on the board of the World Resources Institute (WRI) and established both the WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, an innovative new initiative to integrate urban planning, sustainable transport, energy and climate change, water resources, and governance and the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) to harness the unifying power of sports to improve race relations and drive social progress. In 2013, Mr. Ross pledged to give more than half of his estate to philanthropic causes and charitable organizations through the Giving Pledge, a long-term global initiative created by Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates that aims to inspire deeper engagement in philanthropy and increase charitable giving globally.

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