United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT)
1. What decisions or new strategies has the governing body of your organization taken to guide the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs? Please provide a brief summary below, including the overarching vision of your governing body for the Decade of Action on the SDGs.
The UN-Habitat Assembly has adopted the organization's strategic plan 2020-2023, which is underpinned by 4 domains of change (Reduced spatial inequality and poverty in communities across the urban - rural continuum; Enhanced shared prosperity of cities and regions; Strengthened climate action and improved urban environment; Effective urban crisis prevention and response), which are aligned with the SDGs and the Decade of Action.
The strategic plan has taken effect as we enter the Decade of Action on the SDGs, with ten years left to implement the Agenda 2030. As urban areas are projected to grow up to accommodating two thirds of the world’s population by 2030, they are important spaces to effect change through the implementation of international agendas. SDG 11, the ‘urban’ goal, provides for this development; calling for making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. Simultaneously, all seventeen SDGs have an urban component, including targets such as affordable housing, parks and public spaces, clean air, water, renewable energy, and the mitigation of climate change.
To achieve the SDGs in this decade of action and to overcome major global challenges such as poverty, inequality, environmental degradation, climate change, fragility and conflict, the effective steering of rapid urbanization through urban policymaking, planning and programming is key. UN-Habitat, the United Nations focal point for sustainable urbanization, promotes transformative change in cities, communities, and human settlements. Through the New Urban Agenda, we are confident that sustainable urbanization and the SDGs can be achieved. UN-Habitat has the mandate and capacity to provide innovative normative and operational solutions to urban challenges around the world - as a centre of excellence and the go-to agency for sustainable urban development to ensure that no one and no place is left behind in our rapidly urbanizing world.
2. At the secretariat level, what steps has your organization taken (or will it take) in the follow-up to the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs? Please specify actions, including but not limited to the following areas:
2.1 SDG-specific strategies, plans or work programmes;
UN-Habitat has recently launched the following flagship programmes that contribute to realizing the SDGs in a coherent and integrated manner:
- Inclusive, Vibrant Neighbourhoods and Communities : Urban regeneration initiatives contribute to reduced spatial inequality and poverty by transforming socially, economically, and environmentally deprived areas in cities, targeting to improve the living standards of 500 million people by 2030.
- People-centered Smart Cities: Driving sustainability, inclusivity, prosperity and the realization of human rights, the Flagship Programme enhances shared prosperity of cities and regions (Domain of Change 2) by making the urban digital transformation work for the benefit of all. By 2030, 20 national governments, 200 cities, and 300 tech companies will have implemented smart city guidelines.
- Building the Climate Resilience of the Urban Poor: To benefit 600 million urban poor, the programme seeks to leverage large scale investment to build urban adaptation and climate resilience in the global hotspots of vulnerability, adding to strengthened climate action and improved urban environment.
- Inclusive Cities: Enhancing the Positive Impacts of Urban Migration: The Flagship Programme on “Inclusive Cities: Enhancing the Positive Impact of Urban Migration” supports local and national authorities in creating inclusive and non-discriminatory urban environments for all people for effective urban crisis prevention and response (Domain of Change 4). This will foster social cohesion amongst host and migrant communities, improve living conditions and promote human rights in countries facing migration and displacement challenges.
- Urban 2030 (SDG Cities): By partnering with cities to connect evidence on their achievement of the SDGs to policies and sources of finance, the Flagship Programme supports the achievement of the Strategic Plan’s objective to advance sustainable urbanization as a driver of development and peace, to improve living conditions for all. Nine-hundred cities will increase funding for sustainable actions and improve their performance in achieving the SDGs.
2.2 Aligning the structure of the organization with the SDGs and the transformative features of the 2030 Agenda, including any challenges and lessons learned in doing so;
UN-Habitat is currently going through an organizational restructuring to align with its Strategic Plan 2020-2023 and the SDGs. The new structure considers the deployment of multi-country offices or subregional hubs.
In addition, UN-Habitat has set up four substantive subprogrammes to implement its activities that cut across the majority of SDGs: (i) Reduced spatial inequality and poverty in communities across the urban rural continuum, (ii) Enhanced Shared Prosperity of Cities and Regions, (iii) Strengthened Climate Action and improved urban environment, (iv) Effective Urban Crisis Prevention and Response. To further align with the leave no one behind commitment, the subprogramme above-mentioned fully mainstream social inclusion dimensions: gender, (1) Human rights; (2) Gender; (3) Children, youth and Older Persons; and (4) Disability. They also take into account the cross cutting thematic areas of : (1) Resilience; and (2) Safety.
The five global flagship programmes that UN-Habitat has launched (see above) in the framework of these four thematic subprogrammes will bring together a coalition of partners to support the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in the context of the decade of action and will be the main vehicles for delivering UN-Habitat Strategic Plan 2020-2023.
2.3 Readjusting or updating results-based budgeting and management, including performance indicators;
To support the implementation of its new strategic plan, UN-Habitat has developed a detailed results framework with outcome and impact indicators. Each outcome of the Strategic Plan 2020-2023 contributes to several SDGs. The results framework and the performance management plan draw substantially from the SDG indicators to monitor the achievement of the UN-Habitat Strategic Plan 2020-2023 and its contribution towards localizing the SDGs during this decade of action.
2.4 Action to enhance support to the principle of "leaving no one behind" and to integrated policy approaches;
The overarching objective for the UN-Habitat Strategic Plan 2020-2023 is to advance sustainable urbanization as a driver of development and peace, to improve living conditions for all. That objective is consistent with the Sustainable Development Goals’ principle to “leave no one behind”; with Goal 11 on making cities and other human settlements inclusive, resilient and sustainable; and with the principles and commitments of the New Urban Agenda.
The ambitious objective also reflects the UN-Habitat aim to develop and implement integrated programmes with a view to achieving greater impact. The organization therefore is “people-focused” and spearheads interventions that are holistic rather than sectoral, transformative rather than fragmentary and which link urbanization and human settlements with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the humanitarian–peace–development nexus, as proposed under the Secretary-General’s United Nations reforms
The five global UN-Habitat flagship programmes therefore have at their core the "leaving no one behind principles" while responding to a need for more integration and coherence (see response to question 1.1).
2.5 Action to address the interlinkages across SDG goals and targets;
UN-Habitat's flagship programme on SDG cities aims to realize the potential of cities to drive the achievement of the SDGs and thus improve quality of life for all, particularly for marginalised and vulnerable urban populations. Cities can be drivers of sustainable development and accelerate the global achievement of SDGs; because, by 2030 60% of the world’s population will live in cities and two-thirds of the SDG targets have urban components. In order to realize this potential, cities need to
- Have clearly defined, evidence-based city specific SDG priorities for 2030, and know their baseline
- Identify the actions and investments needed to achieve these priorities;
- Build key capacities in data management, policy, planning, governance, financing, and deliver key outputs, including urban plans, legislation and revenue;
- Identify transformative projects needed to achieve 2030 priorities;
- Structure finance for high impact investments through blending public and private resources to attract and de-risk private capital;
- Measure the contribution of these actions and investments towards achieving 2030 priorities certify progress; and,
- Share their knowledge and experiences with similar cities using open source data and encouraging citizen generated data.
In addition, the other four flagship programmes aim at overcoming working in silos and provide for the interlinked and complex nature of challenges faced in a globalized world.
3. What normative, analytical, technical assistance or capacity building activities is your organization providing to support the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs? Please provide a brief account of the activities you have organized or intend to undertake, including but not limited to the following areas:
3.1 Enhancing national implementation including by supporting the mainstreaming of the SDGs in development plans and policies or through national sustainable development plans/strategies;
UN-Habitat is developing urban country profiles to feed into the preparation of CCA and UNSDCF to support national implementation of the SDGs.
UN-Habitat has made considerable progress in supporting member states in developing and reforming their urban legislation for more sustainable urbanization. The Planning Law Assessment Framework continues to enable member states’ understanding of their current urban legal systems and laws and the reforms or changes required. It is now systematically applied in UN-Habitat’s plans and designs. So far, over 30 cities in 10 countries have utilized the tool to assess planning laws and institute appropriate legal reforms. For example, in 2019 Bolivia used the framework to undertake preliminary background assessments to inform the national urban policy development process. Over 100 national and subnational legal instruments related to urban planning, public space, land economy, construction, governance and sectoral regulations were reviewed.
Moreover, the acceptance of national urban policy as one of the Sustainable Development Goals indicators for Target 11.1a in the global monitoring framework was a major milestone at the Tenth Session of the Inter-Agency and Expert Group on Sustainable Development Goal Indicators, in 2019. Classified as Tier II, the new indicator measures the number of countries with national urban policies or regional development plans that are responsive to population increases. This ensures balanced territorial development and increases local fiscal space. UN-Habitat’s National Urban Policy Database supports the collection of monitoring data for this indicator.
UN-Habitat’s normative tools, guides and frameworks and technical guidance on the development, implementation and monitoring of national urban policies that are transforming the way national and subnational governments are approaching urbanization. Governments have better tools and knowledge with which to promote sustainable urbanization at a fundamental level. In 2019, UN-Habitat introduced a new guide, titled How to Formulate a National Urban Policy and the National Urban Policy: A Guiding Framework, to support member states in developing and implementing national urban policies.
By the end of the Strategic Plan period 2014–2019, 53 countries were supported in the development, implementation and monitoring of national urban policies, up from 4 countries in 2014. In 2019, 16 countries were guided across various stages of the national urban policy planning process: Argentina, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Cameroon, Cabo Verde, Jordan, Liberia, Malawi, Myanmar, Nigeria, Senegal, Solomon Islands, Sudan, Tunisia, Zambia, and Tanzania (Zanzibar). By the end of 2019, UN-Habitat had also supported 6 metropolitan and 10 subnational governments with their urban policy development processes: Bolivia, Guinea, Kiribati, Mali, Palestine, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu. Demand for UN-Habitat’s tools and technical advice to subnational governments has grown given that in 2014 one metropolitan and no subnational governments were engaged.
3.2 Mainstreaming the SDGs in sectoral strategies, including specific SDG/target strategies;
UN-Habitat-led national urban policies mainstream the urban dimensions of the SDGs, particularly SDG 11.
Furthermore, UN-Habitat is developing training material and tools to support national and subnational partners in mainstreaming the SDGs. Together with the Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments and UNDP, UN-Habitat has developed the Roadmap for Localizing the SDGs and other SDG-related training materials which offer local and regional governments a set of strategies that can support them to achieve the SDGs within their jurisdiction. UN-Habitat also advocates for a stronger involvement of Local and Regional Governments in the design, implementation and evaluation of National Urban Policies. Recently, UN-Habitat launched the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Project Assessment Tool, an interactive guide that helps align urban projects with the SDGs and the New Urban Agenda.
Eventually, with its flagship programme “SDG cities” UN-Habitat aims at realizing the potential of cities to mainstream and drive the achievement of the SDGs.
3.3 Supporting the strengthening of national institutions for more integrated solutions;
UN-Habitat’s City Prosperity Index (CPI) is a practical and flexible framework developed for the formulation, implementation and monitoring of policies and practices on sustainable development to increase prosperity and sustainability of cities. The CPI integrates indicators for urban SDGs to address, in a single framework, the environmental, social and economic components of city prosperity and sustainability. The CPI relies on six dimensions that are contextually specific and globally comparable: productivity, infrastructure development, quality of life, equity and social inclusion, environmental sustainability, governance and legislation. The index, which is computed using city level data measures how cities create and distribute socio-economic benefits and prosperity. The level of prosperity of a city is measured through the extent to which the city has achieved all these six dimensions of prosperity.
Since 2012, UN-Habitat has worked with various local, national governments and international organizations in the adoption of the CPI as a single, harmonized monitoring framework for the global agendas. By 2019, CPI has been applied to evaluate urban performance in 539 cities in 54 countries spread across all world regions, with most of these cities using the information generated for data-driven and informed decision-making processes (See map below). Countries using this tool are able identify, quantify, evaluate, monitor and report on progress made by cities in a more structured manner.
3.4 Data and statistical capacity building;
UN-Habitat is supporting the work of national statistical offices to improve formulation of evidence-based policies, strategies and programmes. As the UN focal point for sustainable urbanization and human settlements, UN-Habitat has been designated as a custodian agency for 9 of the 15 indicators under SDG 11, and supports the monitoring and reporting of 4 indicators in other goals. As such, the Agency is leading the methodological developments of guides and tools for the urban-related SDG indicators and targets, as well as working with other UN agencies and various stakeholders to strengthen the capacity of countries and cities to efficiently monitor and report on these indicators.
Specifically, since 2016, UN-Habitat and other custodian agencies in collaboration with various stakeholders developed new and relevant guides, materials and refined urban concepts and definitions, but also supported Member States to set up the required monitoring systems for Goal 11 and other urban SDGs, creating the conditions for producing and using urban data for policy-making and informing transformative actions. These guides and materials include a global framework for monitoring human settlements indicators, a technical note on the national sample of cities methodology, a guide on setting up urban observatories, a technical note on the City Prosperity Index, as well as nine training modules on SDG 11 Indicators. These tools are now being used as training materials for the country-level and regional workshops on Human Settlement Indicators.
Equally important is the significant progress being made in the harmonization of urban data production for better comparability. Wide consultations between UN-Habitat and other partners were conducted to adopt a standalone functional definition of cities and urban areas to enable countries to better compare and aggregate data in a consistent manner. UN-Habitat has also developed the National Sample of Cities approach to ensure a systemic reporting, higher comparability within and among countries, and to enable the aggregation of regional values. In parallel, the agency is now finalizing the NUA indicators framework which will be used to track progress for implementation of the NUA among member states.
Significant progress has been made in the development of national capacities to collect, analyze, and use urban data for monitoring progress in the implementation of the urban SDGs. Since 2016, 26 capacity development workshops have been organized with nearly 1000+ participants drawn from over 50 countries where national statistical offices, local and national governments, civil society, academia, public and private institutions, and representatives from special groups such as youth, women and persons with disabilities were trained.
Specifically, UN-Habitat and partners have jointly conducted several regional and international workshops. At the local level, UN-Habitat has been supporting a few city authorities and local development partners to put in place strategies to localize the monitoring of SDGs and NUA, including aligning plans, setting up inclusive monitoring partnerships and deploying SDG urban tools to better articulate data and policies. For example, as part of a development account project on urban SDGs, UN-Habitat, ECA and ECLAC have reinforced national and city level capacities of urban monitoring in Botswana and Tunisia in Africa; Ecuador and Colombia in Latin America and the Caribbean, enabling the 4 countries to serve as centers of learning for many other countries across Africa and beyond, in addition to enhancing their own internal systems of reporting on the progress on spatially-dependent urban SDGs indicators and the NUA.
3.5 Harnessing science, technology and innovation for the SDGs;
UN-Habitat's flagship programme on “people-centered smart cities” harnesses frontier technologies, science and innovation for the SDGs.
Digital technologies, depending on their use, can be a force that widens social gaps or reduces them. Considering the importance of this, the Secretary General has made one of his top five priorities for 2019 “reducing digital inequality, building digital capacity and ensuring that new technologies are a force for good” and is pursuing the implementation of the recommendation of the High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation on capacity-building and on the need to maximize digital public goods. The United Nations is the essential platform where all relevant actors, including governments, along with companies, technical experts and civil society – can come together to share policy expertise, and explore the possibility of a Global Commitment on Digital Trust and Security.
The UN Strategy on Sustainable Urban Development highlights digital transformation and new technologies as one of four frontier issues that require a special, coordinated response. The New Urban Agenda calls for the adoption of “a smart-city approach that makes use of opportunities from digitalization, clean energy and technologies”.
UN-Habitat’s 2020-2023 Strategic Plan’s Outcome 2.3 calls for “Expanded deployment of frontier technologies and innovation for urban development”. For frontier technologies and innovations to effectively contribute to urban sustainability, they need to be appropriately applied to ensure that the prosperity they bring is shared among citizens, cities and regions. This outcome must be realized by a wide array of actors, and UN-Habitat can play a significant role in this process through the experimental research and integration of new technologies and innovative practices, both in normative and operational activities.
The UN-Habitat flagship programme on “people-centered smart cities” seeks to make urban digital transformation work for the benefits of all, driving sustainability, inclusivity and prosperity and the realization of human rights in cities and human settlements. To make sure that no one is left behind, UN-Habitat is supporting national and local governments with their digital transition, applying a multi-level governance strategy and helping them build skills and capabilities to develop, procure and effectively use digital technologies in an ethical and inclusive way.
Through global advocacy, the programme will ensure that voices from marginalized groups, including children, youth and older people, women in vulnerable situations and people with disabilities as well as cities with less resources are more strongly heard in global platforms, including United for Smart Sustainable Cities, Agile and Open Smart Cities and the Cities for Digital Rights Coalition.
Finally, significant financing must be mobilized for urban innovation projects that make a direct positive impact on the planet and on people’s lives in cities, prioritizing the Global South and communities with less access to resources. Investment objectives will be guided by the achievement of higher socio, economic and environmental standards and increasing equality in the standards of living achieved, in line with the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights and the SDGs.
3.6 Multi-stakeholder partnerships;
Across its four domains of change, UN-Habitat actively engages with the private sector, civil society, the academia and other stakeholders. In order to build coalitions of partners in support of the UN Secretary General’s decade of action, the Executive Director of UN-Habitat has initiated five global flagship programmes that enable the agency to establish long-term partnerships with national and local governments and other stakeholders.
In addition, UN-Habitat has developed a “partnership strategy” as a companion document for the Strategic Plan 2020-2023.
3.7 Bolstering local action and supporting sub-national plans/strategies and implementation for the SDGs;
UN-Habitat-led national urban policies mainstream the urban dimensions of the SDGs, particularly SDG 11 (see response to question 3.1)
3.8 Leveraging interlinkages across SDG goals and targets;
The UN-Habitat flagship programme on SDG cities builds on interlinkages across SDG goals and targets in urban areas. It responds to the fact that ineffective systems of urban governance, limited capacities in urban planning, lack of local resources and funding and poor or non-existent mechanisms to measure results for and impacts on populations seriously impede the achievement of the urban SDGs. To realize the potential of cities to drive the achievement of the SDGs, the flagship programme will work with cities, other levels of government, communities, business sector and development partners to connect the value chain of data; evidence-based policy; capacity in governance, planning and financing; and, impact investments, to accelerate the achievement of SDGs in cities.
3.9 Supporting policies and strategies to leave no one behind;
UN-Habitat’s five global flagship programmes support policies and strategies to leave no one behind. For instance, they strengthen the integration of social inclusion dimensions in UN-Habitat’s programmatic work, notably human rights, gender, children, youth and older persons, and disability.
3.10 Supporting the mobilization of adequate and well-directed financing;
UN-Habitat flagship programmes bring together a coalition of partners to leverage SDG financing. In particular, the flagship programme on SDG cities will support cities to connect data on gaps in implementing the SDGs with strategic planning and capacity strengthening to identify impact investments and access finance for impact at scale.
3.11 Reducing disaster risk and building resilience;
Under its current Strategic Plan 2020-2023, the UN-Habitat domains of change on: Strengthened climate action and improved urban environment; and Effective urban crisis prevention and response, include normative work to support disaster risk reduction and build resilience.
During the 2019 Climate Action Summit (COP25), UN-Habitat partnered with member states in coordinating the Infrastructure, Cities and Local Action track. Through the Building the Climate Resilience of the Urban Poor cooperative initiative, UN-Habitat continued to raise awareness of cities and climate change with other United Nations agencies as focal points, within the United Nations system, for sustainable and inclusive urbanization.
At the end of the work cycle 2014-2019, UN-Habitat managed to achieve substantive impact in reducing the risk of disaster and building resilience across the world, benefitting more than 1 million people with interventions in sustainable urban reconstruction in post-crisis situations and within protracted conflict environments.
3.12 Supporting international cooperation and enhancing the global partnership;
UN-Habitat actively promotes south-south cooperation and global partnership, including through its UN-Habitat Assembly and World Urban Forum.
UN-Habitat spearheaded the development of a United Nations System-wide Strategy on Sustainable Urbanization working with over 24 organizations. The strategy adopted by the Chief Executives Board led by the UN Secretary-General in April 2019 is now a United Nations wide blueprint for sustainable urban development. The strategy provides guidance on a series of actions ranging from poverty reduction, inequality, governance, disaster risk reduction, migration, urban and territorial planning, data and information, national urban policies, global, regional, interregional, national and local level strategies.
During the first UN-Habitat Assembly held between 27–31 May 2019, UN-Habitat enhanced stakeholder engagement through accreditation, dialogues, Global Stakeholders Forum, Business Engagement Forum, networking and side events. Altogether, 172 organizations were accredited to the UN-Habitat Assembly, and 20 organizations delivered statements at the UN-Habitat Assembly, an increase of 42 per cent from the last UN-Habitat Governing Council held in 2017. A Global Stakeholders Forum, attended by over 200 participants, was held on 25–26 May 2019. In addition, the UN-Habitat Stakeholder’s Advisory Group comprising 16 independent experts was launched to advise the UN-Habitat Executive Director on stakeholder engagement in policy and programme design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation, and to promote coherence, coordination and alignment. A stakeholder engagement declaration was adopted as a commitment to work in collaboration with member states and UN-Habitat to deliver the New Urban Agenda, relevant Sustainable Development Goals and targets, and the UN-Habitat Strategic 2020–2023. UN-Habitat scaled up its work with the private sector starting with updating of a private sector strategy in consultation with partners. A business assembly bringing together over 50 private sector organizations took place on 26 May 2019. The City Investment Platform and Capital Advisory Facility advocated at the business assembly have drawn interests from corporates, national and local governments as well as that of investment banks.
4. The high-level political forum (HLPF) is the central platform for the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. Has your organization participated in or supported the work of the HLPF? If yes, please specify your involvement in the following areas:
4.1 Supporting the intergovernmental body of your organization in contributing to the thematic review of the HLPF;
UN-Habitat has participated in all rounds of the HLPF and organizes meetings with its Executive Board on the UN-Habitat contribution to the HLPF. It supports its member states to undertake VNRs and VLRs. It also partners with member states to jointly highlight key issues during side-events and other meeting formats of the HLPF. For instance, together with the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development of Ghana and the Department of Human Settlements of South Africa, UN-Habitat organized a side event to present the “Partnership to achieve SDG Target 11.1: Working together to transform one billion lives”.
4.2 Contributing to policy/background briefs for the HLPF;
UN-Habitat contributed to the compilation of reviews and status reports of various goals and supported countries to package the data and status in their Voluntary National review reports. In 2018, UN-Habitat has led the global review of the Goal 11 and coordinated with several agencies and member states on the compilation of the status reports.
4.3 Helping organize SDG-specific events in the preparatory process;
UN-Habitat leads on and participated in the organization of SDG-specific events, such as an OECD Roundtable on Cities and Regions for SDGs in Paris in March 2019.
4.4 Organizing side events or speaking at the HLPF;
At the HLPF 2019, the UN-Habitat ED Maimuna Mohd Sharif spoke at various meetings.
Together with the Permanent Mission of Tajikistan, the UN Office for South-South Cooperation, the Global Water Operators’ Partnerships Alliance and with the support of UN-DESA, UN Habitat organized a side event on Delivering Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation under the Current Climate Change Scenario –Innovative Responses from South-South Cooperation and the Water Operators Partnerships. Another side event on Extreme Heat: Reducing the impact of Heatwaves in the SDG era was co-organized by UN-Habitat together with IFRC, UNDESA Programme on Ageing, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Center.
Taking into account the crucial role of subnational governments in achieving the SDGs, UN-Habitat has launched an online platform called “Localizing the SDGs” which provides tools and resources for Local and Regional Governments to localise the SDGs and published a report “Roadmap for Localizing the SDGs: Implementation and Monitoring at Subnational Level” with UNDP and GTF during the HLPF 2018.
4.5 Supporting the VNR process.
UN-Habitat works with partner cities and countries to support the VNR process. Over the last years, countries have had an opportunity to report on progress of implementation of Goal 11 targets. Urban targets require engagements at the national and sub-national/city levels. Many countries are still working on mechanisms and structures to ensure appropriate engagements and involvement of the various levels of governments.
Nearly 60% of Goal 11 indicators are to be collected locally, and this demands resources and efforts for the establishment of sound monitoring mechanisms. Strengthening national and local capacities is therefore paramount to enable and build systems that support collection, analysis and dissemination of SDGs data and information. An effective implementation structure for SDG 11 at the national and sub-national levels requires reliable and effective governance structures and supportive frameworks for financing, innovations and institutional capacity-building, with a well-connected network of stakeholders at global, regional and national levels.
In 2019, UN-Habitat continued to respond to the increased and urgent demands for global reporting on the Sustainable Development Goals’ urban indicators at city levels by strengthening the monitoring capacity of urban observatories and national statistical offices. This is being achieved mainly through training and direct technical support on the application of monitoring tools and methods. In collaboration with the regional commissions, UN-Habitat has continued to provide regional training in Africa, Asia and the Pacific and Latin America and the Caribbean, as a cost-effective way to raise awareness on the urban-related monitoring agenda, share knowledge and introduce new tools. A total of 134 participants from 24 countries benefitted from the regional trainings in 2019.
Through the UN-Habitat Global Urban Observatory programme, training on the tools and setting up urban observatories were conducted in 2019 in Botswana, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Jordan, Kuwait, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Viet Nam and Zambia. Member states, through their urban observatories, are in a better position to produce detailed city-level reports based on strengthened urban observatory systems and personnel skills. Additionally, specific demand-driven country advisory missions for direct technical support to in-country teams assisted national statistical offices to localize urban monitoring tools for the Sustainable Development Goals and the New Urban Agenda reporting as well as to help member states make evidence-based policy decisions.
UN-Habitat’s capacity strengthening efforts have had a direct positive impact on member states’ country-level reporting on the urban-related indicators of the Goals and the New Urban Agenda. More countries now have the skills and tools to produce voluntary national reviews and voluntary city reviews with detailed analysis of the urban-related targets and indicators of progress. Since the global monitoring agenda commenced in 2016, the number of Voluntary National Reviews countries have submitted increased from 19 countries in 2016 to 45 in 2018, bringing the total number which have submitted at least one voluntary national report to 98 across the 2016–2018 period.
5. How has your organization cooperated with other UN system organizations to achieve coherence and synergies in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs? In this regard, has your organization launched or intend to launch any joint programmes or projects in collaboration with other UN entities? Are there any results or lessons you would like to highlight that might help improve the design and impact of such efforts? Has your organization participated in any of the following coordination systemwide mechanisms or any other relevant platform - CEB, UNSDG, EC-ESA Plus, regional coordination meetings, UN-Energy, UN-Water, UN-Ocean, IAEG, IATT? Please specify which and indicate any suggestions you may have about improving collaborations within and across these mechanisms/platforms.
UN-Habitat is working with other UN agencies in the context of CCAs and cooperation frameworks.
UN-Habitat has also invited other UN agencies to join its 5 flagship programmes.
UN-Habitat participates in CEB, UNSDG, UN-Energy and UN-Water.
6. How has your organization engaged with stakeholder groups, both in supporting implementation at the country, regional and global levels, and within your own organization? If yes, please provide main highlights, including any lessons learned. If your organization has established any multi-stakeholder partnerships to support the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs, please describe them and how their performances are being monitored and reviewed.
UN-Habitat consults with stakeholder groups on the development and implementation of its strategies and programmes. UN-Habitat is inviting multiple stakeholders to support the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in the context of the decade of action by joining its five flagship programmes, which will be the main vehicles for delivering the UN-Habitat Strategic Plan 2020-2023.
In order to pursue a coherent approach towards the engagement with multi-stakeholder partnerships, UN-Habitat is currently developing a partnership strategy. This strategy includes a typology of partnerships and standard operating procedures on engagement and collaboration, especially with private sector entities. The monitoring and evaluation of this strategy will be carried out according to the results-framework of the UN-Habitat Strategic Plan 2020-2023 and the performance measurement plan.
7. Has your organization organized any conferences, forums or events designed to facilitate exchange of experience, peer and mutual learning in connection with the SDGs? If yes, please provide a brief summary, below and include lessons learned and gaps identified based on the outcomes of these events. Please also include any events you want to organize in the coming years.
UN-Habitat organizes the World Urban Forum on a bi-annual basis to facilitate peer and mutual learning in connection with the SDGs.
Among other previous events that UN-Habitat organized in 2019 was the action track on ‘Infrastructure, Cities and Local Action’ under the leadership of the Governments of Kenya and Turkey during the UN Climate Action Summit 2019, and several events related to the Local2030 network that supports the on-the-ground delivery of the SDGs, with a focus on those furthest behind.
8. Is there any other information you would like to share, including annual reports of your organization and any impact assessment or evaluation reports? If yes, please use the space below and attach the document(s). Please also use this space to provide any other information, comments or remarks you deem necessary.
9. In your view, what should strategic directions look like for the UN system in support of the 2030 Agenda and SDGs in the Decade of Action? What key elements should they include and what major challenges should they address?
In 2012, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon stated during an event in New York that the battle for sustainability will be won or lost in cities. By 2050, seventy per cent of the world population is predicted to live in urban settlements. Cities, as well as being centres of promise and innovation, are also the epicentre of many of the challenges of sustainability. As the majority of SDGs have an urban focus, their sustained implementation at the local level is particularly important.
Well-planned and well-governed cities are therefore the future as they will help address issues related to poverty, social exclusion and spatial inequality, shared prosperity, climate and the environment, and various forms of crisis. This was reinforced in Quito in 2016 at Habitat III, when Member States adopted the New Urban Agenda, a framework that contributes to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Sustainable urban development can have a positive catalytic impact on development and deliver improved living conditions for those furthest behind. Well-planned urbanization resulting in efficient cities and towns can help drive the sustainable development agenda across social and cultural change, environmental protection and economic growth. In addition, sustainable urban transformation presents an opportunity to work with all types of actors and communities, particularly those traditionally excluded from such processes. But we must act now.
10. Please suggest one or two endeavours or initiatives that the UN system organizations could undertake together to support the implementation of the SDGs between now and 2030.
Currently cities account for 80% of the global economy but generate 70% of greenhouse gases and 70% of waste. Growing inequalities in cities are contributing factors to conflict, while poor planning and building standards leave urban communities increasingly vulnerable to natural shocks and climate change impacts as their populations expand. Cities that are well planned and managed, and governed inclusively have proven to accelerate economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development and improved the quality of life of their inhabitants. The New Urban Agenda shows how the global megatrend of urbanization can be harnessed to accelerate the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals through effective urban policies, urban planning, revenue and governance systems and investment in planned infrastructure.
Therefore, A coalition of UN agencies around the UN-Habitat global flagship programme on SDG cities is urgently needed. The programme will support cities in implementing a value chain that connects data with strategic planning, with capacity strengthening, identification of impact investments, accessing finance for impact at scale to achieve that they can reach their potential as drivers of sustainable development.