Cities 2030: Implementing the New Urban Agenda

February 7, 2018

In October 2016, the New Urban Agenda was unanimously adopted at the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III), serving as a new vision for our cities and municipalities for the next 20 years. UNDP demonstrated its full support to the implementation of the New Urban Agenda with the official launch of its Sustainable Urbanization Strategy.

A year later, UNDP welcomed its Strategic Plan 2018-2021 with the endorsement of Member States, providing strategic guidance to UNDP’s policy and programmes for the next four years. The new Plan sets out the direction for a new UNDP to support countries to end extreme poverty, reduce inequality and achieve the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The Plan recognizes that rapid urbanization and changing demographic patterns are challenging conventional thinking on development pathways, and that addressing urban challenges requires cross-cutting, integrated applications of expertise and investment, customized for each country and circumstance and driven by global best practices and international standards. 

Through four out of the six Signature Solutions of the Strategic Plan, UNDP sees unique opportunities to scale up its offer of services on sustainable urbanization for example:

  • Signature Solution 1”– Keep people out of poverty, which involves a mix of solutions that improve rural and urban livelihoods, strengthen gender equality, build social protection and provide basic services;
  • "Signature solution 2" – Strengthen effective, inclusive and accountable governance, including at municipal and sub-national levels;
  • "Signature solution 3" – Enhance national prevention and recovery capacities for resilient societies, which will help countries avoid crises and return quickly to stable development after crises occur, especially in large urban settlements; and
  • "Signature solution 5" - Close the clean energy access gap and enhance energy efficiency, which will also help countries reduce the impacts of air pollution, particularly in urban areas.

Under the guidance of the new Strategic Plan and the six signature solutions, UNDP is further evolving and adapting to become more innovative and efficient to remain a development partner of choice and to respond effectively to new and emerging needs in an increasingly urbanized world, and to serve the half of the global population that now resides in urban areas.

In line with the Secretary-General's reform agenda for the UN Development System, the Plan also calls for new ways of working to help sectors to work better for sustainable development, and enabling them to prevent crisis and recover faster.

UNDP is positively responding to the call from the UN reform for greater coherence and collaboration across the UN System. As a knowledge and partnership connector dedicated to development that leaves no one behind, UNDP collaborates with other UN agencies, international finance institutions, national and local governments, private sector and women and youth organizations across the world to offer more coherent policy advice on urbanization at the global, regional and country levels and support a new generation of UN Country Teams.

At the 9th World Urban Forum (WUF9) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, UNDP is showcasing its results, partnerships and forward thinking about sustainable urban development, and demonstrating its commitment as a trusted partner in the implementation of the NUA in the years to come. Collectively, the effort of the UN System, with the lead of UN-Habitat, will weave a powerful and impactful WUF9, empowering the engagement of all relevant urban stakeholders towards achievement of the NUA and Sustainable Development Goals.

About the author

Rosemary Kalapurakal is UNDP's Lead Advisor on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Follow her on Twitter: @RKalapurakal