Twelve months after the official launch of the structural reforms of the development system, the UN is at the critical stage of implementation.
Twelve months after the official launch of the structural reforms of the development system, the UN is at the critical stage of implementation. In 2020, UN Country Teams under the leadership of Resident Coordinators will develop Common Country Analyses and Cooperation Frameworks in over 100 countries. Utilizing these instruments and various regional coordination mechanisms and global inter-agency processes, they will provide member States with a combination of integrated policy support and technical assistance targeted to enable countries to achieve the SDGs. They will as well seek to situate the UNCT within the larger constellation of domestic and international actors so that UN support facilitates efforts by countries to mobilize public and private investment well beyond the UN resource envelope.
In 2016, member States adopted the New Urban Agenda, an action plan of transformative commitments and drivers of change to harness the benefits and mitigate the risks of rapid urbanization. The UN Department of Economic and Social Development estimates that the proportion of people residing in urban areas globally is 54% and will rise to 70% by 2050. In regions with already high rates of urbanization, countries will need to redesign cities for the 21st century that are inclusive, reduce inequality, promote prosperity, and upgrade infrastructure that is energy-efficient and carbon neutral. In regions experiencing high rates of urbanization -- Sub-Saharan Africa and South and Southeast Asia -- countries will contend with these challenges while at the same time meeting massive demand for infrastructure, basic services, and employment. It is estimated that there are roughly 2,500 cities with populations of 250,000-500,000 people that will double in the next 25 years. How these cities manage that demographic shift will have significant implications for Agenda 2030.
In May 2019, the United Nations Chief Executive Board endorsed the "UN Systemwide Strategy for Sustainable Urban Development," the result of an inter-agency consultative process under the auspices of the High-Level Committee on Programmes and facilitated by UN-Habitat. The strategy offers a broad framework for UN entities to assist member States to accelerate the implementation of the New Urban Agenda. It posits that over the next thirty years sustainable urban development will be an increasingly greater component of sustainable development as the world moves towards 70% urban. And that by focusing collectively on sustainable urban development, the UN system can make headway in four key domains of sustainable development: poverty eradication and equality, urban prosperity and economic growth, climate action, and environment, and urban crisis reduction and response.
The strategy elevates four drivers of change of the New Urban Agenda as crucial areas of attention for the UN system in its effort to offer member States a collective package of policy advisory and technical support for sustainable urban development. These include National Urban Policies that promote balanced socio-economic development to benefit historically marginalized regions of the country and that invest in infrastructure (physical and digital) connecting networks of cities and linking urban and surrounding rural areas. A second driver warranting collective action by the UN system is Vertical Dialogue among central and local governments to promote the devolution of public administration, clarify roles and responsibilities, and coordinate large-scale investments that require the involvement of multiple local jurisdictions. Also crucial is Inclusive Urban Planning that strengthens multi-stakeholder planning platforms privileging neighborhood organizations and engaging private industry to advance a trajectory that integrates equality and environmental sustainability as pillars for economic growth. A fourth driver toward which the UN system can provide dedicated support is Urban Finance, a combination of capacity development directed at local governments, large and small, to harness endogenous resources that provide the basis for repayment of loan financing and issuance of bond instruments – and convening of representatives of domestic capital markets, institutional investors, international financial institutions, and finance, economic development, planning, and urban development ministries.