Experts Discuss Urban SDG Targets

communitascoalitionDecember 2013: Participants at the Experts' Workshop on Sustainable Cities and Human Settlements called for a stand-alone urban goal in the post-2015 development agenda and discussed possible targets.

The workshop took place from 5-6 December 2013, and brought together representatives from governments, UN agencies, experts and Major Groups to discuss sustainable urbanization within the context of the future UN development agenda and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with the aim of advancing just, prosperous and sustainable city-regions as a key element in the post-2015 development agenda. According to the organizers, an urban Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) would reflect urbanization as a “megatrend shaping the 21st Century—socially, economically, environmentally,” and raise awareness of cities as critical elements in achieving poverty eradication, sustainable human development and universal provision of public services.

Participants reviewed the targets proposed in six preparatory papers, which covered: integrated urban planning and design for city-region connectivity, efficiency and inclusive public space; participatory democracy, poverty and inequalities reduction; prosperity and jobs for all within planetary boundaries, with a focus on youth and women; universal access to affordable and quality social services and public utilities, including energy, shelter, transport and water and sanitation; linkages with rural development, including food security and resources provision; and resilience through risk prevention and management and environmental sustainability.

The targets on integrated planning and design build on Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 7, and aim to influence Habitat III's urban agenda. On prosperity and jobs for all, the group stressed that growth and prosperity-related SDGs must be relevant to city-dwellers. Proposed targets on universal access to affordable and quality social services and public utilities include quantitative targets, such as halving per capita consumption of fossil fuel-based energy in the global north, as well as governance targets, which are focused on monitoring performance, coordination across levels of government and agencies, accountability and community level data.

Workshop discussions will feed into urbanization discussions at the Seventh Session of the Open Working Group (OWG) on the SDGs through the submission of a synthesis report, which will present proposals for an urban SDG and urban targets, and a booklet of real-world experiences gathered from local and regional authorities. OWG 7 will take place from 6-10 January 2014, in New York, US.

The Communitas Coalition organized the meeting in collaboration with the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN). Communitas is composed of UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT), Tellus Institute and ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability and Network of Regional Governments for Sustainable Development (nrg4SD). [Meeting Summary]