Ecopolis: the game to build sustainable cities

What measures would you implement in your town or city to combat climate change and, at the same time, improve people’s quality of life? ‘Ecopolis’ is a collaborative game to have fun and to reflect on the sustainability of urban populations in the context of climate change through the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations.

How to play

The objective is to build Ecopolis or sustainable cities. To do this, you have a ‘Metropolis’ or ‘Village’ card. Each card has, on its back, four SDG symbols, which correspond to four construction challenges on the front. The challenges on the ‘Metropolis’ cards require four or five lace pieces, and the ‘Village’ cards require three. As more Ecopolis are built, carbon emissions are removed, and global temperatures drop. The game ends when the players have managed to reduce the global temperature increase of 2º Celsius, which has been caused by human activity since the beginning of the industrial era.

Building an Ecopolis requires ingenuity, vision, speed, and conversation—just as it does with the global crisis. So, although it can be played alone, we recommend you enjoy it in company.

  1. The game boards, lace pieces, turn marker (thermometer), and global warming strips must be cut out following the instructions.
  2. The global warming strips are placed over the thermometer.
  3. A maximum of two players share the boards equally. It is recommended that younger or inexperienced players start playing with the ‘Village’ boards, which only require three pieces to complete. You should not look at the front sides of the board. They will remain face down until it is time to pick one up to use in the next round.
  4. Each player must have one building piece of each color and shape. There are twelve different pieces. It is not allowed to flip the pieces. The color blocks should always be visible.
  5. At the beginning of each round, each participant must declare which Sustainable Development Goal, from those shown on the back of their board, they are going to implement in their Metropolis or Village. You should explain why it is necessary and how you would do it.
  6. Once the SDGs are set, both players go around the board at the same time. They must complete the grid with the building pieces indicated in the SDG they have declared. 
  7. The first player to complete the grid following the rules says “Ecopolis!” because she has managed to implement her sustainable policy. Then, you can remove a global warming strip.
  8. The board card is returned to the bottom of the board deck to be reused as many times as necessary. A different ODS must be chosen each time a round is played. The game ends when an Ecopolis has been reached eight times, global warming will have been reversed and, this way, we all win.

With the collaboration of the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology – Ministry of Science and Innovation.


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