UN System

The United Nations system plays a crucial role in supporting member state and stakeholder implementation of the sustainable development objectives. System-wide coherence at global, regional, sub-regional and country levels is crucial for the UN system to deliver on its mandates to support sustainable urban development.

The New Urban Agenda offers opportunities to increase coherence and coordination across the UN system, working collectively on four fundamental drivers of change:

  1. Developing and implementing urban policies at the appropriate level
  2. Strengthening urban governance
  3. Reinvigorating long-term and integrated urban and territorial planning and design
  4. Supporting effective, innovative and sustainable financing frameworks and instruments

Learn more about the UN’s response to COVID in the urban world.

UN at the Global Level

The UN System-Wide Strategy, adopted by the Chief Executive Board in 2019, elevates the New Urban Agenda as an accelerator for sustainable development, guiding efforts by 31 UN entities to pursue the urban dimension of their respective mandates globally, regionally and at country level.

UN System Contributions to Sustainable Urban Development

UN Agency/Program
Agency's Urban Page
Contribution to Urban Initiatives

Asian Development Bank (ADB)
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How to Develop a Healthy and Age-friendly City: Trends show that in the future, most people will live in cities and many of them will be older than 60 years old, ushering in a four-generation urban society. Policy and decision-makers therefore must include in urban plans the health and social needs of densely populated cities and aging constituents, along with other concerns. Ensuring the well-being of people and communities is also a key factor in building a city’s competitiveness, especially in a post-coronavirus disease (COVID-19) setting. A healthy city promotes equality, good governance, well-being, innovations, and knowledge sharing. It involves active mobility, food production, gardening, availability of sports arenas, and ways of social exchange. Meanwhile, an age-friendly city enhances the quality of life by anticipating and responding flexibly to the needs and preferences of older persons, protecting especially the most vulnerable. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has developed a framework that integrates sustainable urban planning and management with health and age-friendly outcomes and care systems to guide urban planners. The two-stage holistic and evidence-based framework uses two tools: the Health Impact Assessment and Healthy and Age-Friendly City Action and Management Planning. The framework incorporates lessons and best practices from ADB’s projects in the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

Department of Economics and Social Affairs (DESA)
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World Urbanization Prospects: The 2018 Revision - This report presents the results of the official United Nations estimates and projections of urban and rural populations for 233 countries and areas of the world and for close to 1,900 urban settlements with 300,000 inhabitants or more in 2018, as published in World Urbanization Prospects: The 2018 Revision. The data in this revision are consistent with the total populations estimated and projected according to the medium variant of the 2017 Revision of the United Nations global population estimates and projections, published in World Population Prospects: The 2017 Revision. This revision updates and supersedes previous estimates and projections published by the United Nations.

View More This web site contains data tables, figures, maps, analyses and technical notes from the 2018 Revision of the World Urbanization Prospects.
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UNITED NATIONS EXPERT GROUP MEETING ON SUSTAINABLE CITIES, HUMAN MOBILITY AND INTERNATIONAL MIGRATION - The meeting convened experts from around the world to (a) review the latest evidence regarding trends in urbanization and migration; (b) discuss development impacts, including social, economic, political and environmental aspects; and (c) discuss implications for policy, governance and planning. The discussion ranged from the global to the local level, with the goal of identifying substantive connections across geographic and organizational levels, and encouraging coordinated policy responses based on a whole-ofgovernment approach.

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UN Demographic Yearbook (DYB) - As part of this data collection, they collect, process, validate and disseminate statistics on urban and rural areas, together with the definitions of urban/rural as applied by countries/areas

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UN Demographic Yearbook (DYB) 2018

View More References The present report, which was prepared in accordance with Economic and Social Council decision 2019/210 and past practices, is on the implementation of the 2020 World Population and Housing Census Programme and the results of the survey launched by the Statistics Division in that respect. The report also covers the methodology for delineation of cities and urban and rural areas.
View More Collection and dissemination of housing census in UNdata

Development Coordination Office (DCO)
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Policy Brief: COVID-19 in an Urban World - As this brief has shown, many policy options are available for local governments and more broadly to set cities on a course towards sustainability, accessibility, innovation, equality and respect for human rights. The policy recommendations can be adapted to local contexts – not just to acknowledge the unique strengths and challenges of different cities and even neighbourhoods within cities, but also to ensure that their unique character and culture are respected. Measures have also been proposed for national governments to support cities in this endeavour. And the United Nations stands ready to work with countries on this process.

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Human Rights and Urbanization - "This two-pager was developed by UN Habitat & OHCHR based on the “Frontier Dialogues” on emerging human rights issues launched in 2016 by the former UNDG Human Rights Working Group with members taking the lead on specific issues. These messages were approved by the UNDG and have been incorporated into the UNDG Guidance Note on Human Rights for Resident Coordinators and UN Country Teams.

View More A COVID-19 data portal on the implementation of the socio-economic response to COVID-19

Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLAC)
View More The 2030 Agenda places people at its core and aims to achieve a rights-based sustainable development under a renewed global partnership, in which all countries participate at an equal footing. Poverty eradication and addressing inequalities are central in the new Agenda, and are key priorities for Latin America and the Caribbean.
View More Regional Action Plan for the implementation of the New Urban Agenda in Latin America and the Caribbean 2016-2036

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
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Urban Food Agenda Framework: Thie publication was prepared in response to the growing demand for a guide that would assist the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in supporting countries, and their sub-national and local governments, in taking actions to ensure sustainable food systems. This framework will orient efforts for implementing the UN endorsed New Urban Agenda and thereby helping to achieving the goals set out in the 2030 Agenda.

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Urban Food Policy: This report seeks to highlight trends in the progressive evolution of urban food policy and practice as seen in the 157 submissions from the 2016, 2017 and 2018 cycles of Milan Pact Awards. Short briefs of a selection of 50 practices are referenced in the annex to this report and posted on the Urban Food Actions Platform hosted by FAO in collaboration with the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact (MUFPP) Secretariat, ICLEI, UCLG and C40 networks. The analysis of emerging food policy and practice trends in this report are supplemented by examples taken from the 50 briefs.

International Labour Organization (ILO)
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Urban Crisis Recovery: In 2018 ILO, UNESCO and UN-HABITAT met in Amman to explore the possible establishment of a joint initiative for the recovery and reconstruction of major cities in four conflict-affected countries of the Arab region, namely Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen. The “Regional facility for urban crisis recovery and reconstruction in the Arab States” will build on existing programmes of individual agencies without replicating them, and will benefit from the added value of the participating agencies, who will work together in complementarity. It will be based on the principles of sustaining peace and building back better and will aim to complement interventions of humanitarian and development actors.

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Urban Unemployment Data Collection: The International Labour Office Department of STATISTICS, responsible for compiling and disseminating the full range of labour statistics produced in countries (and disseminated in LABORSTA, the ILO labour statistics database) carried out a first investigation in 2010 to find out what labour statistics topics were available in international data repositories for urban and rural areas of countries around the world. The initiative was to prepare a dataset of the resulting statistics and to document the definitions used to classify urban and rural areas in these official labour statistics.

International Monetary Fund (IMF)
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Additional Source

IMF Publications on Housing Prices


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Global Housing Price Index: IMF assessment on housing prices tracked by country, detailed analysis. 

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)
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A Territorial Approach to the Sustainable Development Goals:

Synthesis report -> The report estimates that at least 105 of the 169 SDG targets will not be reached without proper engagement of sub-national governments. It analyses how cities and regions are increasingly using the SDGs to design and implement their strategies, policies and plans; promote synergies across sectoral domains; and engage stakeholders in policy making. The report proposes an OECD localised indicator framework that measures the distance towards the SDGs for more than 600 regions and 600 cities in OECD and partner countries. The report concludes with a Checklist for Public Action to help policy makers implement a territorial approach to the SDGs.

United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
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Multiple Deprivations In Secondary Cities in Sub-Saharan Africa, Call for action.

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Report of the Mayors for Children’ meeting in Greece, November 2019

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Global Framework for Urban Water, Sanitation and Hygiene

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State of the world’s children 2019

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Investing in the Pathways to Employment For adolescent girls and young women in low and middle-income countries A Guide for Investors: The section of "Role of Private Capital," looks at how to design and structure private capital flows to impact urban areas for women and adolescents 

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Urbanization data from November 2018 (underlying data for the urban paradox report) + (values and wealth disparity gaps by indicator and country)

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In the 2018 Annual Report, there is a focus on "GOAL AREA 4: EVERY CHILD LIVES IN A
A growing proportion of the world’s children reside in urban settings, where, on average, they have greater proximity to services and benefit from higher incomes and better infrastructure than rural children. However, UNICEF research shows that in some countries, the poorest and most vulnerable urban children fare worse than their peers in rural areas. In 2018, UNICEF revitalized its programming for children in urban settings and provided support to urban and rural local governments. As a result, 409 local governments in 32 countries have child-responsive and budgeted plans.

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Shaping urbanization for children: A handbook on child-responsive urban planning presents concepts, evidence and technical strategies to bring children to the foreground of urban planning. By focusing on children, this publication provides guidance on the central role that urban planning should play in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), from a global perspective to a local context, by creating thriving and equitable cities where children live in healthy, safe, inclusive, green and prosperous  communities.

United Nations Development Program (UNDP)
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Catalyzing Private Sector Investment in Climate Smart Cities: to explore innovative financing instruments and approaches for catalyzing private sector financing to fill the climate-smart investment gap in cities. The report reviews the existing literature, highlights key barriers in scaling-up private investment in climate-smart urban infrastructure, and showcases innovative financial de-risking instruments and other financial instruments for private sector financing for low carbon, resilient urban investments. The first chapter of the report introduces the topic and the second presents the challenges and the opportunities of urban climate investments. The third chapter discusses climate-smart cities and types of urban mitigation and resilience investments. The fourth chapter reviews and provides a framework to examine the interconnected layers of investment barriers specific to private investment, city financing, and climate-smart projects. Considering these risks allows investors and other stakeholders to better understand the complex web of challenges to expanding investment in urban climate projects and how they build on one another. Chapter five presents 10 case studies of innovative financing approaches to address some of these barriers and mobilize private sector finance for low carbon, resilient urban development. Finally, the c​onclusion in chapter six offers some key findings and considerations for the wider community of practice.

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Sustainable Urbanization Strategy: Outlines how UNDP is responding to rapid urbanization in developing countries and its consequences for sustainable development. It outlines how UNDP will support countries and cities, building upon its past and current work on urbanization. The strategy presents the complex and evolving urban challenges and the interrelated development choices which cities face as they strive to achieve the SDGs and implement the New Urban Agenda. It also sets out UNDP’s comparative advantage and experience in core thematic areas which are relevant to achieving the SDGs in cities and urban areas.

United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP)
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Urban Air Pollution Project in South East Asia. ESCAP with the financial support of Government of Korea, is implementing a technical assistance project to cities in South East Asia with UNEP and other partners aimed at leveraging innovation to local air pollution mitigation plans. This is a follow up to an ESCAP Resolution in 2019 on air pollution sponsored by Government of Korea.

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COVID-19 Recovery Support to Asia-Pacific Local Governments. A new 13th tranche Development Account project, partners with UN-Habitat and UNCDF to support data, knowledge and planning of cities in Malaysia, Viet Nam, India and Fiji to build back better from COVID-19.

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Closing the Loop project on addressing marine plastic pollution from ASEAN cities, with financial support from Government of Japan and in partnership with ASEAN Secretariat, South East Asian cities, the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES), International Solid Waste Association (ISWA) and others. The project will produce innovative data, monitoring technologies and plastic waste action plans for cities in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Viet Nam as part of the implementation of the ASEAN Framework for Action on Marine Debris and ESCAP Resolution on Sustainable Development of Oceans from the latest Commission Session in 2020.

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Forecasting Sustainable Urbanization project. ESCAP with financial support from Government of China and in partnership with UNECE, supports cities in Central Asia and China to develop measures to reduce the increase in natural resource depletion resulting from unplanned and/or unmanaged urbanization. Altering these trends requires robust analysis of existing data and metrics and a means to forecast resource needs, investments, and the potential for policy interventions and technical solutions

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Ocean Cities project: Promoting Nature Based Solutions in Pacific Islands Cities produced regional knowledge products on ocean friendly urban development strategies with partners from the Pacific

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Urban Nexus project in partnership with GIZ and ICLEI. The project supported twelve cities in seven countries, namely: China, India, Indonesia, Mongolia, Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam. ESCAP-led activities promote an enabling framework for the urban nexus initiatives to thrive in the cities, highlight the relevance of the nexus approach, and seek to mainstream the nexus approach in national and local strategies for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the New Urban Agenda.

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Integrated Resource Recovery Centers (IRRCs) project with financial support from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and in partnership with UCLG ASPAC and Waste Concern. ESCAP, Waste Concern and their partners have been promoting a waste-to-resource approach to sustainable solid waste management in towns and cities across the region. Through this project, ESCAP has helped local actors to deploy inclusive programs and strategies for adopting 3R (Reduce, Reuse, Recycling) practices and establish IRRCs. The IRRCs are decentralised facilities that use cost-effective and simple technologies to convert the organic component of municipal waste into resources using composting, anaerobic digestion and faecal sludge management processes.

View More ESCAP organizes preparatory meetings for the sessions of the APFSD in each ESCAP sub-region. The preparatory meetings represent a unique opportunity to bring together stakeholders from government, academia, the international community, civil society and the private sector and provide them with: (1) the opportunity to provide sub regional perspectives for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and for the Road Map for implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific; (2) an enabling environment for knowledge sharing and engaging in technical level discussions on the theme of the APFSD and HLPF.
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The Future of Asian and Pacific Cities 2019: Transformative Pathways Towards Sustainable Urban Development

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Penang Platform for Sustainable Urbanization: A Dynamic Partnership to Accelerate City Actions for Sustainable Development in Asia-Pacific

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The Asia Pacific Mayors Academy was launched in 2019 by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP), the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) and United Cities and Local Governments Asia-Pacific (UCLG ASPAC) - in cooperation with the United Nations University, Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS); the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU), and Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES).

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The annual ASEAN Mayors Forum is supported with UCLG ASPAC.

United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UNESCWA)
View More This online platform is therefore intended to capture national and regional efforts towards the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, and to serve as a hub for sharing knowledge, experiences, and best practices to build a better future for the Arab region and beyond.

United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)
View More “2020-2030: A Decade to Deliver a Transformed and Prosperous Africa through the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063.”

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
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The UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities is an international policy-oriented network providing inspiration, know-how and best practice: Learning cities at all stages of development can benefit greatly from sharing ideas with other cities, as solutions for issues that arise as one learning city develops may already exist in other cities. The Network supports the achievement of all seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular SDG 4 (‘Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all’) and SDG 11 (‘Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable’).

United Nations Environment Program (UNEP)
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Weight of Cities: The proportion of the global population living in cities and towns is expected to rise from 54 per cent in 2015 to 66 per cent by 2050, which will result in a significant expansion of existing cities, as well as the construction of new cities. Without a new approach to urbanization, material consumption by the world’s cities will grow from 40 billion tonnes in 2010 to about 90 billion tonnes by 2050. Therefore, the resource use implications and environmental impacts of urbanization are significant. Resources should now become a central policy concern, in addition to concerns about climate change.

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Resilience and Resource Effciency in Cities:
Urban areas accounted for 54% of the total global population in 2014. Yet activities in cities account for 70-75% of natural resource consumption, with signifcant impacts for resource availability and ecosystems in areas far beyond urban boundaries. Cities are also disproportionately susceptible to a range of environmental hazards due to their concentration of people, infrastructure and economic activity; their exposure to risk is likely to further increase with climate change. The resource effciency and resilience of cities will become even more signifcant
as urban population and economic growth continues: the global urban population is projected to increase by approximately 1.84% every year between 2015 and 2020, with 90% of this growth occurring in Asia and Africa. The major global challenges of the 21st century – urbanisation, climate change, resource scarcity and poverty – therefore have huge implications for urban planners and policymakers. This report looks at the relationship between building the resilience of cities in the face of global environmental change, and increasing the resource effciency of cities to reduce their harmful impacts on the environment. It provides examples of effective ways to address these agendas, as well as the potential and challenges for integration. This speaks strongly to global policy agendas, including the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement and the New Urban Agenda.

United Nations Environment Program Finance Initiative (UNEPFI)
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Sustainable Real Estate Investments: This framework is designed to help real estate investment stakeholders identify key drivers and overcome the most common barriers for action to integrate ESG and climate change risks into their decision making processes. It has been carefully prepared with input from many knowledgeable industry experts and resources produced over the past five years. Focus on "Climate, Fiduciary duty, Long term and Time to act."

United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)
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UNIDO Contributions to Habitat III Quito Conference: Participating as a panelist in a roundtable discussion on “implementing the New Urban Agenda at all levels and with all actors”, Monga outlined UNIDO’s lead role in integrating low carbon industrial development within the cities for shared economic empowerment. On the sideline of the Habitat III, UNIDO organized an event focusing on the significance and potential of sustainable cities as hubs for innovation, low carbon industrialization and climate action. In particular, UNIDO’s initiatives of developing eco-industrial parks and sustainable cities in India, Malaysia and Senegal were highlighted.

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UNIDO Partnership with Private Sector on Planning and Development of Urban Areas & Industrial Zones: In September of 2019, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the Urban Planning and Design Institute of Shenzhen signed a Memorandum of Understanding during the BRIDGE for Cities 4.0 event : Connecting cities through the new industrial revolution that took place in Vienna, Austria

United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
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Small Area Estimation: Better Data for More Effective Policies and Programmes: This brochure describes a method of Small Area Estimation that combines census and household survey data. It also presents a case study based on data from Nepal. The case study illustrates the use of census as well as demographic and health survey data to generate estimates of three family planning related indicators for Village Development Committees and Municipalities in rural and urban areas, respectively.

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QGIS for digital cartography in Censuses and Surveys: Geospatial data is increasingly used as census modernization advances within population data systems worldwide. It is UNFPA’s aim to expand access to software and related guidelines for using these data most effectively for development, disaggregation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). UNFPA’s Technical Division’s Population and Development Branch is committed to increasing the availability of both commercial (ArcGIS) and open-source (Q-GIS) GIS software and guidelines for UNFPA and our partner governments. This manual provides technical guidance on digital mapping, and analysis with QGIS, one of the most widely used free and open-source GIS packages. The manual covers all stages of digital mapping, including plotting of households within Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), creation of administrative boundaries, production of supervisor and enumerator maps, basic spatial analysis, and image processing; it also ensures that UNFPA provides National Statistical Offices and other partners with an alternative to commercial software for digital cartography in censuses and surveys.

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Classification and Delineation of Urban Areas in a Census: Disaggregation between urban and nonurban areas is important across the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) because urban areas are commonly associ-ated with amenities such as paved roads, safe drinking water, and access to electricity and education. Goal 11 of the SDGs focuses specifically on urban areas due to the continually increasing share of the world population living in them. Both urban and rural residents face vulner-abilities particular to their physical and socioeconomic environments. Interest in refinement of the definition and delineation of urban areas increased in response to sub-urbanization in developed countries and as urbanization accelerated in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa during the 1960s and 1970s. The importance of the distinction between urban and rural has not since diminished, but a definitive, universal definition of urban remains elusive.

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State of World Population 2020 - DEFYING THE PRACTICES THAT HARM WOMEN AND GIRLS AND UNDERMINE EQUALITY: "Poor, rural and lesseducated girls are most at risk FGM is generally more prevalent among poorer households in rural areas than in wealthier urban households (Figure 4.2). In Egypt, for example, more than 90 per cent of women in rural areas have undergone FGM compared with 77 per cent of women in urban areas (as of 2015). In Kenya, women in rural areas are almost twice as likely compared with women in urban areas (as of 2014). Studies in Burkina Faso, Egypt and Ethiopia have shown that women who reside in rural areas are more likely to have undergone FGM or be willing to practice FGM on their daughters— and at the same time, they have more favourable attitudes towards FGM compared with those who reside in urban areas (Mohammed and others, 2014; Tamire and Molla, 2013; UNICEF, 2012, 2010; Karmaker and others, 2011).

United Nations Regional Commissions New York Office
View More The Regional Forums for Sustainable Development, convened annually by the Regional Commissions, have consolidated their status as the regional platforms for assessing progress and exchanging knowledge, best practices and solutions to support the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, in line with regional priorities and specificities. Countries have continued to receive support in the preparation of voluntary national reviews, benefiting from the wealth of knowledge and experiences shared in these forums.

World Bank Group
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World Bank Urbanization Reviews, Country Specific & Regional Database:The World Bank's Urbanization Reviews offer a framework for city leaders to make tough decisions on development in their cities by providing diagnostic tools to identify policy distortions and analyze investment priorities.

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Urban Waste Management Initiative 2050, With a Vast Database of Initiatives: What a Waste 2.0: A Global Snapshot of Solid Waste Management to 2050 includes global, regional, and urban trends on solid waste management from technical and operational trends to environmental and social impacts. The topics covered in the publication include waste generation, waste collection, waste treatment and disposal, financing models, operational models, technologies, citizen engagement, environmental impact, and informal sector impact. The database linked with this website includes information on 217 countries and economies as well as more than 360 cities.

World Health Organization (WHO)
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Healthy environments: why do they matter and what can we do?: This document is structured as follows. For each topic, a brief overview is provided of the main health impacts caused by environmental factors, key actions to create healthier environments, and WHO support to countries and communities. Part I covers key environmental risks to health, such as air pollution or inadequate water supply; Part II describes the main settings for implementing action, such as workplaces or cities. To facilitate the implementation of health-protective measures across sectors, the Health in All Policies framework is presented.

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Health as a pulse for the New Urban Agenda: This paper clarifies these and other critically important connections between health and urban policies. It also provides a detailed vision for integrating health into urban planning and governance, and offers practical guidance on health-promoting approaches for those tasked with implementing the New Urban Agenda in the years to come.

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Global report on urban health: equitable healthier cities for sustainable development: This report presents evidence that in cities, progress in health depends not only on the strength of health systems, but also on shaping urban environments. Capitalizing on such intrinsically linked factors leads to efficiency, synergies and co-benefits, and is essential to the attainment of the SDGs. The report presents examples of effective actions by cities and nations around the world and subsequent successes. At the same time, it underscores the persistence of inequity and how its root causes must fundamentally be addressed in order to achieve meaningful progress.

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Integrating health in urban and territorial planning: The sourcebook also shows how an integrated approach to health can influence decisions on sectors such as housing, transport, energy, and water and sanitation. More importantly, it considers how they are all linked to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Health features prominently in the inter-linkages between and among the Sustainable Development Goals, including Goal 11, on sustainable cities and communities, cutting across almost all others and across traditional policy and disciplinary silos. The sourcebook articulates how public health professionals are crucial to good urban and territorial planning. They have a valuable and unique set of skills to bring to the table and can help ensure that routine urban and territorial planning activities, such as economic development or transport planning, are focused on delivering population health and well-being. We encourage you to make use of this sourcebook so that together we can improve our urban environment, our health and our well-being through the realization of the New Urban Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, so that no one and no place is left behind

UN System SDG Implementation Online Database

The database contains information on decisions or new strategies taken by intergovernmental bodies to guide the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs, specific actions and initiatives by UN family entities, including their contributions to the HLPF. The database also allows for a searchable overview of collaborative initiatives by UN organizations, their support to countries, and their views on a strategic plan of the UN system in support of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs.

Access the UN System SDG Implementation online database 

UN at the Regional Level

UN Sustainable Development Group

At the regional level, the UN Sustainable Development Group (UNSDG)—agencies, funds and programmes working on development—work to support countries to achieve the 2030 Agenda, addressing key challenges that transcend country borders.

The UN Development Coordination Office (DCO) serves as the secretariat for the UNSDG at the regional and global levels. At the regional level, five UN DCO Regional Directors and their teams in Addis Ababa, Amman, Bangkok, Istanbul and Panama City provide the UN Resident Coordinators in countries with regional-specific support and with a secretariat role for the regional UN Sustainable Development Group.

UN collaboration with regional and sub-regional bodies and organizations, such as the African Union (AU), Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), European Union (EU), League of Arab States, the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS), and the sub-regional platform for implementing the New Urban Agenda in the Caribbean States all support the sustainable urbanization efforts regionally. Regional conferences of ministers of housing and urban development also play key roles in addressing regional and sub regional urban priorities.

UN Regional Commissions

UN Regional Commissions take a comprehensive and integrated approach to the New Urban Agenda, which promotes close links in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Agreement and other global and regional frameworks. They play a key role in implementation, follow up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at the regional level given their universal coverage, convening power, intergovernmental platforms, and broad-based cross-sectoral mandates and expertise, collaborating closely with regional and sub-regional bodies and organizations.

The five UN Regional Commissions share objectives aiming to foster cooperation among Member States at the subregional and regional levels.

logo UNECA   United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA)

logo UNECE

  United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE)

logo ECLAC

  Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLAC)

logo ESCAP

  United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific

logo ESCWA

  United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia














Direct support to the New Urban Agenda and urban-relate SDGs include adaptation of universal norms and global frameworks to regional and country contexts, policy coherence and dialogue with a broad range of stakeholders, capacity development and sharing of knowledge, experiences, good practices and lessons learned. UN Regional Commissions also provide a greater voice to subregions and countries with special needs, including least developed countries (LDCs), landlocked developed countries (LLDCs), small island developing states (SIDS) and countries in crisis.

Regional Forums and Platforms

The five UN Regional Commissions support national governments and cities to achieve sustainable development, increased policy coherence among member States across their regions, promote improved capacity of institutions, and implement the New Urban Agenda (NUA). This support includes encouraging greater integration of various dimensions (regional, national, local) of the programme by, for example:

  • Building the capacity of national-and local-level decision-makers in implementing, monitoring and reporting the New Urban Agenda (NUA) and urban-related SDGs.
  • Establishing mechanisms for sharing information and successful practices.
  • Facilitating an inclusive process of knowledge generation and dissemination through regional monitoring and reporting on sustainable urbanization.

An overview of their activities to support implementation of the New Urban Agenda is available here.


  • The Asia-Pacific Urban Forum (APUF), convened by ESCAP is a regional platform for policy makers and stakeholders at all government levels held every four years to exchange information on urban solutions. The 7th Asia Pacific Forum in 2019 convened 60 countries to review the implementation of the New Urban Agenda. Organizations and partnerships mobilized over US $2.5 billion in voluntary commitments for sustainable urbanization in the region.
  • The Forum also established the Penang Platform for Sustainable Urbanization to address multi-faceted issues through a holistic CITI pathway: Collaborate to accelerate implementation of the SDGs in cities, Integrates the use of tools, models, research and evidence of good practices, Transforms access to innovative sources of urban financing through new partnerships, and Increases political commitments for sustainable urbanization.
  • The Asia-Pacific Mayor’s Academy launched at APUF-7 supports newly-elected or appointed mayors with access to expertise, greater awareness of regional resources, and a support network, to assist in the acceleration of urban sustainability initiatives across all aspects of NUA.


  • Together with United Nations entities, with the conference of ministers of housing and urban development, formulated a regional action plan to implement the New Urban Agenda.
  • Urban-related work takes place under ECLAC’s umbrella strategy of promoting a ‘big push’ for sustainability. It largely focusses 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.


  • The Regional Action Plan 2030 was endorsed by UNECE member States in October 2021. It identifies policy propositions, targets and actions to assist governments and cities of UNECE member States in addressing the difficulties brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic for an already stretched affordable housing system across the region. It aims to tackle inequalities, strengthen the capacities of local actors, and pursue a green, resilient and inclusive economic recovery by focusing on (i) cities, neighbourhoods, homes and rural life and (ii) sustainable housing and homes.
  • The annual multistakeholder roundtable “In Focus: SDG 11” aims at better linking intergovernmental debates on issues related to SDG11 with what cities and their networks are actually doing. The event is a platform for dialogue on how cities and their networks, UN agencies, as a well as other relevant international organizations and stakeholders, address global challenges that are traditionally discussed by States in multilateral forums.
  • The United for Smart Sustainable Cities Initiative is being implemented to address the major urban issues in medium-sized cities to support the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and New Urban Agenda.


  • The Smart Sustainable Cities and Smart Digital Solutions for Urban Resilience paper (available in Arabic) was developed in partnership with UN-Habitat and explores the status of smart sustainable cities in the Arab region and smart digital solutions that could help achieve both resilience and inclusion during pandemics.
  • Supporting Arab cities in developing their voluntary local reviews and to inform the Voluntary national reviews and ensure this national-local dialogue.


  • Supporting African Member States to integrate urbanization into national development planning, with a focus on strengthening economic and spatial policies and strategies. This has resulted in selected countries committing to a multisectoral approach to urbanization, linked to national targets for inclusive growth and transformation.

Reports and publications

Regional Action Plan

Sub Regional Action Plan

UN at the country level

To promote sustainable urbanization the Resident Coordinators System is:

  • Endeavoring 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 areas such as: spatial equality and poverty eradication, prosperity and economic development, climate action and environmental sustainability, and crisis reduction and recovery.
  • Incorporating sustainable urban development in instruments of the UN country teams, including Common Country Analysis, the United Nations Sustainable Development 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 promoting the implementation of the United Nations Systemwide Strategy for Sustainable Urban Development. 


SDG Monitoring and Reporting Toolkit for UN Country Teams

At the country level, the UN country teams are working on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Different UN agencies, funds and programmes are working on which SDGs, where, source of funding, implementing partners and more. Find out more here.


Sustainable Development Cooperation Frameworks

The United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (UNSDCF) is the most important instrument for planning and implementation of the UN development activities at country level in support of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Cooperation Framework determines and reflects the UN development system’s contributions in the country and shapes the configuration of UN assets required inside and outside the country.

Sustainable urban development, spatial development, national urban policies, housing, and related topics are increasingly seen in these documents, as countries address these development dimensions.

For a list of UNSDCFs, please visit Cooperation Framework Documents