Once dubbed “America’s least sustainable city” for its record-breaking temperatures and water scarcity, Phoenix is taking on the challenges of climate change, rapid population growth, and water scarcity. How? By rallying local officials and its most global management school around the Sustainable Development Goals to take action.

What happens when a politician and a professor join forces? Just ask Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego and Dr. Sanjeev Khagram, the Director General and Dean of Thunderbird School of Global Management (Thunderbird) at Arizona State University (ASU).

Both are well aware of the stereotypes about their city: that it’s a retirement community where few creatures thrive besides scorpions, rattlesnakes, and cacti. And both are excited to change your mind.

Indeed, Arizona’s capital is not without its challenges. It’s the hottest city in the United States, with average high temperatures soaring to nearly 90 degrees. At the same time, a 22-year drought has caused a historic drop in water levels for the Colorado River basin and Lake Mead, which millions of people across the Southwest — including residents of Phoenix — rely on for drinking water, irrigation, and hydroelectricity. And when it comes to ozone pollution, Phoenix is ranked as one of the worst places in the country to live, according to the American Lung Association.

But in recent years, Phoenix has also become one of the fastest-growing cities in the country and one of the nation’s leading manufacturers of electric vehicles and semiconductors. It also has launched the country’s first permanent and publicly funded Office of Response and Heat Mitigation. The city has already electrified its police department’s motorcycle fleet as well as ground equipment at its airport — the 11th busiest in the world last year — and will be replacing its aging buses with battery-electric and hydrogen fuel-cell versions, thanks to a grant from the bipartisan infrastructure law.

In building “the world’s most sustainable desert city,” both Gallego and Khagram have embraced a universal road map that has united countries and communities across the globe in protecting the planet and its people: the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Together, last year they launched Phoenix Global Rising, an initiative to foster international trade and investment, promote the full inclusion of immigrants and refugees, create a smart community with sister cities worldwide, and, of course, to achieve the Global Goals.

Read the full article about sustainable development goals by MJ Altman at United Nations Foundation.