Participants at Sustainable Cities Days Recommend Urban SDG

globaltaskforce-uclg-unahbitat13 December 2013: Participants at ‘Sustainable Cities Days' have called for a stand-alone goal on sustainable urbanization that is transformative, progressively measurable and builds on past successes. The UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT), United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), the Group of Friends for Sustainable Cities co-chaired by the Permanent Missions of Singapore and Sweden to the UN, and the Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments for the Post-2015 Agenda towards Habitat III co-organized the days, which took place from 11-13 December 2013, in New York, US.

The Days discussed urbanization and the post-2015 development agenda, with the aim of contributing to the formulation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including at the Seventh Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) Open Working Group (OWG) on the SDGs, and to preparations for Habitat III. The Days also: informed Member States on sustainable cities and human settlements and on the views of mayors; shared findings from the UNGA's September 2013 Special Event on Sustainable Cities; and discussed the OWG 7 Issue Brief on Sustainable Cities.

The Global Taskforce recommended an urban goal focus on managing urbanization and ensuring a territorial approach that bridges urban-rural divides and places “local governance and collaboration between citizens and their governments at the heart of the agenda.” They emphasized that such a goal should build on the convening power and political commitments of local and regional governments. The Taskforce further proposed focusing on city targets related to: poverty reduction and equality; socially inclusive economic growth; sustainable and healthy urban environments, including addressing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, disaster resilience, air pollution and wastewater management; and urban management and governance, including cooperation between different municipalities and government levels.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said cities present opportunities to achieve “social equity and economic opportunity” and welcomed local government engagement in building sustainable cities and formulating the post-2015 agenda.

Sustainable urbanization does not occur spontaneously but must be planned and adequately managed, according to Joan Clos, UN-HABITAT Executive Director. Jan Eliasson, UN Deputy Secretary General, highlighted local and regional governments' role in providing equitable access to basic services, including “adequate funding, well-functioning and accountable institutions and the skills to develop and implement sustainable policies.” Navid Hanif, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), announced that the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) will dedicate a session to Sustainable Cities in May 2014. Corinne Woods, UN Millennium Campaign Director, called on elected officials to make concrete proposals on partnerships.

UNGA President John Ashe called for effective urban planning to create sustainable, livable cities that contribute to improved consumption patterns, resource efficiency, healthy prosperity and cultural, educational, intellectual and technological achievements and innovations. Ashe recommended addressing inequality, security and disaster management and resilience to achieve sustainable cities and human settlements.

Sustainable Cities Days included: the Global Taskforce meeting; the Group of Friends of Sustainable Cities “Sustainable cities” special event; and the Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) Inter-Ministerial Meeting on Sustainable Cities, among others. [Statement of UN Secretary-General] [Statement of Deputy Secretary-General][Statement of UNGA President, Sustainable Cities Session] [Statement of UNGA President, LAC Meeting] [Global Taskforce Website for Days] [Global Taskforce Report on Sustainable Cities Sessions] [Concept Note] [Programme of Global Taskforce Meeting] [Webpage of UNGA Special Event]