United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Australia, The Netherlands and United Kingdom

Open Working Group, January 2014:
Australia, the Netherlands, United Kingdom Constituency Statement
Sustainable Cities, Human Settlements and Sustainable Transport
The issue of building, and reforming, our cities, human settlements and their transport networks to be more sustainable is a critical development challenge that needs to be reflected within any SDG framework.
Sustainable cities and human settlements
 More than half the world’s population currently lives in cities and this number is growing rapidly — by 2050 70% of the world’s population will live in cities
 Cities are the engines of economic growth and development
- they provide greater prospects for employment and better access to basic services
- cities increase connectivity and create hubs for business and innovation
- cities can be a model for efficient, sustainable transport systems including non-motorized transport (cycling)
- effective, integrated city planning can maximise the benefits of cities for economic productivity, innovation and jobs.
 The rapid rise in urbanisation gives us the opportunity now to create sustainable, resilient cities but there are many challenges:
- cities can generate significant environmental impacts including greenhouse gases, poor air quality and high levels of waste
- cities also pose social challenges and are often the site of high levels of inequality and poor governance
- unplanned urbanisation is increasing vulnerability to natural disasters, health problems and unsustainable use of natural resources such as, water and productive land
- these challenges impact the poor and vulnerable disproportionately.
 We need to take an integrated and participatory approach to the many challenges posed by urbanisation to create sustainable cities, including:
- promoting good governance and planning to ensure reliable and efficient delivery of basic services and improve the living environment and capacity to accommodate a rapidly increasing urban population
- developing modern technologies to optimise resource use, minimise waste and enhance service delivery.
- while countries should be free to set out their own national carbon emission reduction policies, an approach to urbanisation should take efforts to reduce emissions into account.
- supporting well-planned and strategic design of infrastructure and services to enhance resilience to natural disasters and the impacts of climate change.
- ‘Liveable cities and smart mobility’ concepts have the potential to contribute to these solutions.
 We need to support open and accountable city governance
- we should develop new flexible forms of governance, which can cope with evolving circumstances and empower citizens
- city governance should be integrated with other levels of government.
 Target 7.D. of the Millennium Development Goals “Improving the lives of 100 million slum dwellers” was reached before the 2020 timeline
- however, during this time period the number of slum dwellers continued to increase — we need to continue work to improve the lives of slum dwellers.
 Slum dwellers are among the most vulnerable of the world’s poor, often lacking access to clean water and sanitation, decent housing, and have limited access to education, employment opportunities, health services — inhibiting their capacity to lift themselves out of poverty
- slum dwellers often lack secure tenure which may lead to reduced access to justice and rights, and may often prevent access to government services and participation in government.
 We agree with Bulgaria, Croatia and others that the issues important for sustainable urban development could best be handled by reflecting these across the SDGs
Sustainable transport
 Sustainable transport is important to all three dimensions of sustainable development – social, economic and environmental.
 Transport services and infrastructure are essential for sustainable economic growth and is the fastest growing sector, providing mobility of goods and people and enabling access to markets and essential services including through:
- generating employment and improving access to jobs
- stimulating enterprise opportunities and increases productivity
- improving access to social services including education and healthcare
- playing a significant role in promoting gender equality and empowering women.
 Infrastructure gaps form a significant barrier to growth and competitiveness, particularly for landlocked developing countries.
 In urban areas we need to tackle the challenges of air pollution, congestion, and affordability
- urban outdoor air pollution is estimated to cause 1.3 million deaths worldwide per year, disproportionately affecting those in middle-income countries.
- investing in mass transit systems can lessen these challenges and connect people to jobs and key services
 so can investing in sustainable transport systems for non-motorised transport (cycling).
 Rural transport services are critical for connecting agricultural communities with markets and services
- currently an estimated 1 billion rural poor live more than 2km from an all-weather road, limiting their access to jobs, markets and services.
 In addition, with traffic deaths being the number one leading cause of death among youth globally, sustainable transport policies need to address reducing road accidents
 Transport infrastructure needs to be resilient to natural hazards and climate change
- need to invest in planning and risk management capacity.
 Transport accounts for nearly one quarter of global energy-related CO2 emissions
- while countries should be free to set out their own national carbon emission reduction policies, without specific targets on individual sectors
- going forward it will be important to develop practical and economic measures to reduce emissions from transport.
In summary, unless we address the sustainability challenges in our cities, human settlements and transport networks we will not be able to address the development challenges we need to overcome to achieve a more prosperous and sustainable future.