UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean

UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean

ECLAC promotes inclusive economies with a smaller environmental footprint in Latin America and the Caribbean. 


The main challenges faced by urban policies in the area include profound changes in urban population composition, the increasingly important role of cities in national wealth creation, and challenges posed by climate change. In this context, ECLAC provides policy advice, disseminates knowledge, facilitates technical exchanges and offers recommendations for achieving development in urban areas with a focus on sustainability, inclusivity and equality. ECLAC addresses the three dimensions of sustainable development. ECLAC promotes constant improvement of urban infrastructure and services by translating the sustainable development vision of Latin America and the Caribbean into useful public policies. 

During 2018-2021, the urban development work of ECLAC focused largely on supporting national and local authorities involved in urban development, including those related to housing, mobility, climate action planning, in building promoting and building capacity for sustainable urban development. Urban-related work takes place under ECLAC’s umbrella strategy of promoting a ‘big push’ for sustainability. This is an articulated intervention of multiple actors and coherent policy to simultaneously promote: economic growth, adoption of technological innovations, creation of employment, reduction of emissions, and greater equality. Work has focused on promoting local economic development, resilience building, climate change adaptation, and supporting policy making in developing an intersectoral, integrated urban policy. Increasingly, more attention is being paid to building capacity and boosting participation of local authorities in urban planning processes, to promote the inclusion of local perspectives in national planning exercises. ECLAC has also become more heavily involved in the intergovernmental processes surrounding urban development, particularly since taking on the role of co-technical secretariat to the Forum of Ministers and high level Authorities for Housing and Urban Development for Latin America and the Caribbean in 2020. This role is shared with UN-Habitat.

At the Forum of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development 2022 held in Costa Rica from 7-9 March 2022, issues related to sustainable urban development, human settlements and the New Urban Agenda were addressed in various instances.
The Intergovernmentally Agreed Conclusions and Recommendations of the fifth meeting of the Forum of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development made specific reference to the importance of accelerating the implementation of New Urban Agenda. In the context of the ever rising human and financial costs associated with disasters which trap countries in cyclical patterns of emergency response, thus inhibit the ability of government to achieve sustainable development. The Forum recognized that improving environmental quality in cities is one of the challenges that lies ahead and that measures required to address this (related to water scarcity and sanitation, sustainable transportation, sustainable production and consumption, energy efficiency, waste management, among others) take into consideration the New Urban Agenda and its promotion of the right to adequate housing and standard of living without discrimination. 

Reviewing the potential of the New Urban Agenda as an accelerator of the SDGs in territories and cities - this discussion focused on addressing how the implementation of the NUA is unfolding in the region and in identifying key areas of action. Some of the issues touched on included: the importance of bringing local actors to the table in national planning exercises to ensure development plans and policies respond to local realities and needs, the need to promote vertically and horizontally integrated urban policies to break sectoral silos that continue to prevail and mainstreaming the concept of resilience into all urban planning processes.

Integrating multidimensional tools for local planning-presented experiences of integration of climate adaptation tools, disaster risk reduction, territorial planning, and resilience building to strengthen and promote sustainable development at the local level. Furthermore, case studies of integration of topics included disaster risk reduction, adaptation to climate change, management of environmental systems, land use planning among others, were presented.