Actions to achieve Sustainable Urban Development

Why actions matter in achieving the 2030 Agenda

We have less than seven years remaining to reach the Sustainable Development Goals. In 2020, the United Nations Secretary-General called upon a Decade of Action to accelerate and mobilise solutions at local and global levels and fully engage partners, people and communities across all sectors to leverage transformative changes. Therefore, it is crucial to collect and monitor committed actions and advance the progress and achievement of the Agenda 2030.

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WUF 11 – The Katowice Declared Actions

The eleventh session of the World Urban Forum (WUF11) took place in Katowice, Poland, from 26 to 30 June 2022 under the theme Transforming our Cities for a Better Urban Future.

The theme’s relevance is stark as the world comes together to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable, especially after the devastating effects of Covid-19 and the refugee situation due to the crisis in Ukraine.

The WUF11 concluded with the Katowice Declared Actions. These declared actions will carry the sustainable development agenda forward to the next World Urban Forum in Cairo, Egypt in January 2024, and beyond. They include recommendations and commitments that representatives of government, civil society and the private sector take back to their home cities for further discussion and implementation. WUF11 Katowice Declared Actions are voluntary actions and commitments that support the NUA implementation and accelerate the SDGs’ attainment. 

WUF 10 - The Abu Dhabi Declared Actions
The Tenth Session of the World Urban Forum (WUF10) debated issues related to rapid urbanisation, building inclusive and resilient cities, and taking steps to accelerate their work towards the New Urban Agenda as an accelerator to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in the Decade of Action. WUF10 began with a call to action and concluded with the Abu Dhabi Declared Actions committed by different partners and stakeholder groups.

The Abu Dhabi Declared Actions comprises actions committed on a voluntary basis by governments, partners, individuals, communities, and the business sector from cities and countries around the world to accelerate the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. The Actions were produced in consultation with the WUF10 Advisory Group representatives from diverse urban development partners. The Actions are strategic level goals that will result from implementing new initiatives from various institutions and actors.

For more information on the Declared Actions, please visit here.

The first report on the implementation of the Abu Dhabi Declared Actions: one year of implementation was published in 2021. The report details successes and highlights actions partners are engaging in to fulfil their commitments.

Actions At-a-Glance


The Urban Forest, towards a greener Madrid

The Urban Forest project aims to create a 75-km long green forest ring around the city, helping to remedy some of the negative effects of urban sprawl, such as heat islands, poor air quality and loss of biodiversity. The ring will connect large existing parks with new forests and native green areas, following the concept of green infrastructure. It will consist of 450,000 trees, new parks and leisure areas and greed bridges over some of the main motorways that surrounds the city. This green infrastructure will be composed of native species and adapted to the city’s specific characteristics, with the objective being to generate quality spaces, reduce the effects of climate change and pollution, and promote sport and healthy activities in the immediate surroundings of residents The Urban Forest is a long term project but the first phase is currently ongoing. During its development, Madrid is implementing various initiatives to encourage the participation of citizens and companies in this ambitious project.
Source: Other

Making Cities Resilient by 2030 (MCR2030)

In partnership with UCLG, ICLEI, the World Bank, UN-Habitat, IFRC, the World Council on City Data and the Global Resilient Cities Network (Rockefeller...
Source: Abu Dhabi Declared Actions

Cities of Opportunities: Connecting Culture and Innovation

1. We, the participants of the tenth session of the World Urban Forum, represent national, subnational and local governments, international and regional organizations, parliamentarians, civil society, older persons, women, youth, children, persons with disabilities, grassroots groups, indigenous peoples and local communities, professionals, the private sector, foundations and philanthropies, academia, professionals and other relevant stakeholders. Together we gathered in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, to dialogue on the theme “Cities of Opportunities, Connecting Culture and Innovation.” Now, at the conclusion of this World Urban Forum we declare our voluntary actions and commitments for the next two years and beyond. We do so in support of the implementation of the New Urban Agenda as an accelerator to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in this Decade of Action. 2. We recognize that an increasingly urbanized world constitutes a transformative force which can be harnessed and steered for more sustainable development. Cities have the opportunity to take the lead to plan and design as well as manage transitions towards inclusion, resilience, sustainability, economic growth and shared prosperity. At the same time, cities are addressing many global challenges including poverty, gender inequalities, human rights violations, unemployment, health emergencies, loss of social cohesion, threat to cultural heritage and cultural diversity, environmental degradation, migration, disaster risk and climate change. 3. We, the participants of WUF 10, are convinced that culture is an integral part of the solution to the challenges of urbanisation and achieving the New Urban Agenda. The urban environment, in turn, has an influence on culture. Culture is a core component of local identity including heritage, creativity and diversity and urbanisation need to be planned, designed and managed to enhance this. Culture is considered by some constituencies as the fourth pillar of sustainable development and must be a stronger strand of global solidarity. Culture and heritage are essential in the context of peoples’ empowerment as well as their universal access to services, and ownership of regeneration and social cohesion strategies. Urban heritage—both cultural and natural—is an asset and enables sustainable urban development. Revitalising cities whilst respecting urban heritage allows us to celebrate the past while embracing a sustainable future. It limits the negative impacts of city sprawl while also reducing waste, infrastructure needs and transportation costs. Strategic integrated urban planning provides the tools to ensure the integration of urban heritage, culture, local economic needs, environmental considerations, biodiversity, low carbon development and climate resilience to ensure the creation of sustainable, prosperous, liveable communities. Attention to the urban rural continuum and to nature in cities is essential. Participatory community engagement and innovation are key means to achieve this. 4. We believe that cities are centres of creativity and innovation as well as places with valuable cultural heritage and identity. The culture and creative industries are rapidly expanding sources of employment and economic development in cities and urban areas globally. Innovation and cultural heritage must at the foundation of how urban centres operate, with strong support from national governments, a strengthened role for subnational and local governments and systematic collaboration with civil society. Cities that are well-planned and well-managed, grounded in cultural heritage, have more opportunities for sustainable urban development. Supported by people-centred technology, smart city initiatives and fit-for-purpose land governance, culture and innovation become creative drivers for sustainable growth, shared prosperity and inclusive development. 5. We also believe that cities are incubators of social, economic, environmental, political and cultural progress. They are equally the guardians of cultural heritage and identity which must be safeguarded to pass on to future generations. Subnational and local governments play an integral role in enhancing the diversity of urban life, through the adoption of rights-based approaches to cities and, in particular, with the promotion of gender equality and equal access to opportunities for all. They provide solutions for decent work, housing, and transport, the provision of basic cultural services such as libraries, tangible and living heritage, and community centres and adopt inclusive, accessible, and transparent participatory processes. 6. The New Urban Agenda acknowledges the importance of culture, cultural diversity and cultural heritage in all its forms as resources that enrich humankind, making an important contribution to sustainable urbanization and the development of inclusive safe cities and human settlements, empowering all people to play an active role in development initiatives. 7. We celebrate cultural heritage as a valuable resource to be protected and safeguarded in its diversity of expression and forms. These assets inspire innovation and creativity in cities and human settlements, creating and implementing new knowledge and solutions to improve living conditions for all. We emphasize that women and girls are key agents of transformative change in their cities. Culture offers a perspective on leaving no one and no place behind as it enables women and girls to identify with their heritage and make their voice heard through creative means. Women and girls must have effective and equal ways to participate through cultural expressions as well as innovative and inclusive decision-making. 8. We encourage stronger commitments to safeguarding culture heritage and finding related innovative solutions to accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Sustainable Development Goals, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Paris Agreement, the New Urban Agenda and other global frameworks. 9. We recognize the need for an integrated approach to the implementation of the New Urban Agenda by all levels of government and by various stakeholders. This includes enhanced coordination and coherence supported by institutional, social and technological innovations which protect tangible and intangible cultural heritage. This is crucial for the achievement of sustainable urban development and the overall prosperity of cities and human settlements. 10. We also recognize that innovation and advances in science and technology are critical for implementing the NUA, achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, and other global development frameworks relevant to sustainable urbanization. 11. We draw attention to the importance of data and knowledge as a fundamental starting point to understand gaps and needs. We acknowledge the need to critically link data to evidence-based policy formulation, development of action plans and sources of funding. In this regard we welcome the New Urban Agenda monitoring platform, City Prosperity Initiative, and other platforms such as the Culture 2030 indicators. In this respect, the global people-based definition of cities and settlements (Degree of Urbanization), will be a crucial instrument for collecting comparable data and facilitating harmonised reporting in the implementation of the SDGs. 12. We encourage stakeholders to declare their actions towards strengthening investments and efforts in developing better data platforms to support evidence-based policies and investments and accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. 13. We believe that together sustainable urbanization, culture and innovation are fundamental in supporting the Decade of Action. We aim to accelerate the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals which call for sustainable and inclusive solutions to all the world’s biggest challenges. Cities represent an entry point for all 17 SDGs and create a window of opportunity for sustainable urban development. Service provision, density and economies of scale are factors that bind all development goals together. 14. We encourage all development actors gathered in Abu Dhabi to mobilize their respective capacities in this Decade of Action. We will continue to call for actions and mobilisation and track progress through a monitoring and reporting mechanism. At the global level, this requires strong leadership, more resources and smarter solutions. At the local level, this includes shifts in policy, budget, institutions, and regulatory frameworks to make cities safe, resilient and sustainable, grounded in cultural heritage and creative practice. At the people level, we call for a movement of youth, civil society, media, private sector, academia and others to advocate for social and economic transformations. We want to raise awareness of all stakeholders: the cities we build today are tomorrow’s heritage. 15. We thank the Government of the United Arab Emirates and the City of Abu Dhabi, and UN-Habitat for convening the Forum. And we commit to providing continuous cooperation to the next hosts, the Government of Poland and the City of Katowice.
Source: World Urban Forum

Actively promote implementation of the United Nations Systemwide Strategy for Sustainable Urban Development among Resident Coordinators

• Endeavor to work with governments and local and non-State actors to promote sustainable urbanization to further the development objectives of the UN country teams in the areas of spatial equality and poverty eradication, prosperity and economic development, climate action and environmental sustainability, and crisis reduction and recovery. • Incorporate sustainable urban development as part of the development of the various instruments of the UN country teams, including: Common Country Analysis (CCA), the United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (also known as Cooperation Framework), the implementation coordination groups of the results areas of the Cooperation Framework, and the monitoring of the implementation of the results areas. • Actively promote the implementation of the United Nations Systemwide Strategy for Sustainable Urban Development among Resident Coordinators by creating spaces for UN-Habitat participation in United Nations country team retreats, regional meetings of Resident Coordinators, and through global and regional webinars, among other forums.
Source: World Urban Forum

Implement the Global Compact on Inclusive and Accessible Cities

In the context of Voluntary Local Reviews the cities of Barcelona, Rostov-on-don, Betio Town, Kuala Lumpur, San Justo, Tandil, Seberang Prai, Buang, Sipalay City, Brussels Capital Region, Tawau, Esplugues de Liboregat, Turkestan City and Acapulco de Juarez, join previous signatories in their commitment to: i) identify how existing strategies, programs, data, and targets align with the Sustainable Development Goals; ii) To provide at least one forum where stakeholders can come together to share experiences, lessons learned, and information gathered using the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals; and 3) To submit a Voluntary Local Review to the United Nations during the United Nations High-Level Political Forum.
Source: World Urban Forum

Promote sustainable urban development and the implementation of the New Urban Agenda at regional and local levels

The commitments made by LRG at the World Assembly of Local and Regional Governments convened by the Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments, during WUF10 are as follows: • The constituency of LRG encourages all stakeholders are involved in local, territorial, national, and international plans to carry out the New Urban Agenda as an accelerator for the SDGs, to make this achievement a global endeavour so that our communities can find ownership in these agendas and truly make them a reality, addressing the challenges as one humanity. • The constituency of LRG commits to developing a sustainable development model that is strongly anchored in culture and human rights, upholding public service provision to ensure adequate living standards for all; the Right to the City needs to be a reality. • The constituency of LRG assumes a more prominent role for cities and local and regional governments in the discussions regarding the ecological transition, to localize climate action, prioritise nature-based solutions and traditional knowledge, and mainstream both nature and culture in sustainable urbanization. • The constituency of LRG commits to foster locally relevant cultural policies and programmes to maximize the relationship between cultural rights, memory, creativity, diversity and knowledges, to integrate heritage and culture in urban planning and to promote global cultural partnerships as strands of solidarity and vectors for peace; the promotion of culture as the fourth pillar of sustainable development needs to be pursued. • The constituency of LRG commits to understanding innovation beyond technology, placing communities at the centre of the agenda, and securing a technological revolution that services the communities, that guarantees equal access by all people, that fosters women empowerment, and that goes beyond the notion of consumerism. • The constituency of LRG commits to continue consolidating the World Assembly of Local and Regional Governments as the representative mechanism through which our constituency provides inputs to the global agendas, building on the realities and expertise of our communities. The LRG further recognizes: • The urgent need for reducing risks in urban areas, in coherence with the New Urban Agenda, the Sendai Framework, Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda, in order to save lives and livelihoods. • The urgent need to strengthen mechanisms for citizen participation that facilitate and measure women’s agenda-setting and leadership roles in planning and decision making • The urgent need to recognize and value the participation, knowledge and expertise of women and girls (across their diversities) by convening dialogue and agenda-setting processes that value lived experience, cultural expression, and grassroots community-generated data as innovative inputs to public policymaking and programming
Source: World Urban Forum

Make Cities Resilient by 2030

The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction in partnership with UCLG, ICLEI, the World Bank, UN-Habitat, the World Council on City Data and the Global Resilient Cities Network (Rockefeller Foundation) recognize the urgent need for reducing risks in urban areas, in coherence with the New Urban Agenda, the Sendai Framework, Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda. These organizations commit to making cities resilient by 2030, during the Decade of Action, through support to cities from their tools and knowledge products, their regional offices and networks and associations, and improved coordination with national governments and leaders of local governments.
Source: World Urban Forum