Sustainable development in cities is critical to achieving most of the 2030 Agenda

Oct 17, 2016

UNDP Administrator Helen Clark at the launch of the Sustainable Urbanization Strategy in Quito along with, UNDP Goodwill Ambassador Michelle Yeoh, Rose Molokoane, Deputy President for Slum Dwellers International and Juan Fernando Velasco, Goodwill Ambassador for Ecuador (extreme left). Photo: UNDP

Quito, Ecuador—The progressive movement of populations to cities and towns represents a fundamental change in global development, requiring a similarly fundamental response.

‘For the first time in history, more than half the world’s people live in urban areas. By 2030, 60% of the global population will live in cities and towns. 90% of this urban growth will be in the developing world, mostly in Africa and Asia’— according to UNDP’s Sustainable Urbanization Strategy launched today in Quito, coinciding with the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III). The New Urban Agenda defines a global approach to urbanization for the next 20 years.

While cities cover a small part of the world, their economic and ecological footprints are much larger. Cities account for over 80% of global GDP, produce more than 70% of the world’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and use 80% of the world’s energy.

“We need cities to be more resilient and their inhabitants less vulnerable,” stated UNDP Administrator Helen Clark. She further added, “UNDP recognizes that to help countries implement the 2030 Agenda, we need to support governments, businesses, and communities to respond to these aspects of urbanization using an integrated approach addressing sustainability, inclusiveness and resilience.”

The 2030 Agenda and the new Sustainable Development Goals provide a powerful illustration of the challenges and opportunities cities present. The Habitat III Conference, the largest global development conference in 2016, aims to secure renewed political commitment for sustainable urban development, assess accomplishments to date, tackle urban poverty and identify and address new and emerging challenges.  

UNDP Goodwill Ambassador and award-winning actor and producer Michelle Yeoh, who was also present on the occasion, said, “I am proud to be here with all of you and with UNDP’s Administrator Helen Clark to launch UNDP’s Sustainable Urbanization Strategy. To meet the commitment under the 2030 Agenda to leave no one behind, we will have to find ways to ensure that those living in poverty have a voice in decision making for improved economic opportunities in urban areas.”

Some key action plans in UNDP’s new urbanization strategy include its close alliance with local and international partners to design, develop and promote initiatives that address pressing urban issues including urban poverty, unemployment, climate change, disaster risk as well as those that reduce gender disparities. The strategy also calls for a south-south exchanges and helping countries monitor and report on urban development progress, issues and trends in line with the 2030 Agenda and Habitat III commitments. UNDP will support countries and cities, building upon its past and current work on urbanization in partnership with UN- Habitat, cities and communities.

UNDP’s strategy presents its offer to support cities becoming more sustainable, inclusive and resilient by tackling the complex and evolving urban challenges and the interrelated development choices which cities face, along the lines of the New Urban Agenda expected to be adopted on 27 October in Quito, following the Habitat III Informal Intergovernmental Meeting, at the UN Headquarters in New York (7 - 10 September) and Conference in Indonesia in July 2016.

Promoting sustainable cities is featured as a core part of the 2030 Agenda with an Urban SDG – Goal 11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. The sustainable development in cities is critical to achieving most of the 2030 Agenda and action in cities will be essential for achieving at least 11 of the 17 SDGs as indicated in UNDP’s urbanization strategy.

Contact information

In Quito, Ecuador: José Martino| Oficial de Comunicación | PNUD Ecuador| email: |Tel: +593 22460330 ext. 2209

Marcela Barrientos| Communications Specialist| Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean| email: Tel: +1 347-923 1572

In New York: Sangita Khadka, Communications Specialist, UNDP Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, email: Tel: +1 212 906 5043

UNDP Around the world