The Benefits Research Programme ‑
Enabling action through research

Climate change and NCDs share similar root causes, such as urbanization, mechanization, overconsumption and motorized transport.

Cities are central to the solution, having more than 50% of the world’s population and 70% of the total carbon emissions. Novo Nordisk and C40 formed a research‑based partnership aimed at ensuring that urban climate action is beneficial to both the environment and the health of urban citizens. The programme has supported 18 cities with technical support, hosted 2 masterclasses using Copenhagen as a classroom for learning and knowledge‑sharing and presented successful climate cases advocating for more investment in urban climate actions.

Included partners: C40, Novo Nordisk (Cities Changing Diabetes), Gehl.

Supporting organizations: Arup, City of Copenhagen, University of Copenhagen, University of Zürich, University of Cambridge.



Cities are central part of the solution to mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and increasing sustainable mobility for both health, convenience and the environment. They are responsible for 70% of global greenhouse gas emissions and home to more than 50% of the world’s population.

Cities are faced by several barriers to taking effective climate actions, one of which is to make a good case for it. The distal ways in which climate change have been portrayed can make it seem less immediate and tangible compared to other problems. That’s what the Benefits research programme set out to strengthen.


What has the project done?

C40 is focused on tackling climate change and driving urban action that reduces greenhouse gas emissions and climate risks, while increasing the health, wellbeing and economic opportunities of urban citizens. In late 2015, Novo Nordisk and C40 formed a research-based partnership aimed at ensuring that urban climate action is beneficial to both the environment and the health of urban citizens. This collaboration aimed at generating new insights into a range of benefits of climate action – in particular the health of city populations. At the heart of the partnership lies the pivotal role of cities in the fight against climate change and poor health. Therefore, we chose to focus on the co-benefits of climate actions on health, social, environmental and economic parameters.

Five pilot cities helped to map out some of the co‑benefits of climate actions. Using the learnings from those cities, the project focused in on urban mobility projects aimed at moving people from motorized transportation to active mobility through walking or cycling. The programme further developed by sharing learnings and challenges faced by cities during Masterclasses in Copenhagen. Here, the city was used as a classroom to discuss good mobility solutions and inspire new approaches. Masterclass participants would bring a project from their own city to receive technical support, before, during and after the masterclass and how to incorporate the co-benefits thinking into their own project. 



The ‘Benefits of Walking and Cycling’ research is built upon three years of forward-thinking work between CCD and C40 supporting 18 cities to provide the evidence base for the health, economic and climate benefits of walking and cycling. An objective of the C40/CCD partnership has been to learn how cities can strengthen the case for investment in climate actions by demonstrating the derived health benefits. The results show benefits of investing in walking initiatives and help the city estimate potential benefits/drawbacks of urban actions and how similar interventions could be expanded across the city. The well-being of the city is important to the well-being of its citizens.

Working with the C40 Walking & Cycling Network, we have translated the outcomes from our leading research into a cutting edge, easy-to-use tool, to empower cities to measure the benefits in their own cities. This, combined with technical support, knowledge-sharing and good advocacy work has led to many cities moving forward with great urban mobility initiatives to tackle both climate and health challenges.



  • Cities increasingly working with data collection, analysis and documentation
  • C40 has provided training and technical assistance for 18 cities
  • 2 Masterclasses held in Copenhagen with 12 cities participating
  • Impact assessment tool developed and available online for all to use
  • Co-benefit measurements have been used locally to increase investment in mobility projects


18 cities have been supported through the programme (not incl. pilot cities).

  • In 2016, 5 cities were part of the pilot project to develop the benefit methodology: Mexico City, New York City, Johannesburg, Santiago, and Melbourne
  • In 2017, six cities received technical support on their mobility projects: Buenos Aires, Houston, Milan, Nairobi, San Francisco, Santiago
  • In 2017, six cities participated in the Masterclass in Copenhagen: Bangalore, Barcelona, Bogota, Cape Town, Rio de Janeiro, Vancouver
  • In 2018, six new cities participated in the 2nd Masterclass in Copenhagen: Mexico City, Moscow, Nanjing, Rome, Rotterdam, Tel Aviv


Click below to see three examples of cities that have benefitted from the programme:

See more results from the programme and additional case studies at c40.org/benefits


What’s next

Work is ongoing in the cities that have been involved in the programme and solutions are being implemented over the coming years. The programme and its outcomes are further being disseminated through the C40 Walking & Cycling Network and the tool is made widely available for everyone to use.

Find the tool and guidance for its use here. In October 2019, the C40 Mayors Summit in Copenhagen will be the next big touch point and give cities a change to discuss progress and share solutions on creating urban climate actions.

Read more about our other actions here