UNDP Cities Initiative

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UNDPOur Work on sustainable, inclusive, safe, and resilient urbanization:
More than half of the world’s population now lives in urban areas. By 2050, that figure will have risen to 6.5 billion people – two-thirds of humanity. Sustainable development cannot be achieved without significantly transforming the way we build and manage our urban spaces.

The rapid growth of cities in the developing world, coupled with increasing rural to urban migration, has led to a boom in mega-cities. In 1950, only 30 percent of the world’s population lived in urban areas. In 2014, 54 percent was urban, with the proportion being far higher in developed countries. By 2020, however, the majority of people in developing countries will live in cities, with Africa and Asia urbanizing faster than other regions. Together with Latin America, they collectively account for more than 90 percent of global urban growth.

Many national, regional and local governments have struggled to create and implement policies that tackle the growing challenges faced by population growth in urban centers. Making cities safe and sustainable means ensuring access to safe and affordable housing, as well as improving slum and informal housing settlements. City leaders must invest in public transport, create and regenerate new public spaces for all urban residents, and improve urban planning and management in a way that is both participatory and inclusive. Sustainable city life is one of 17 Global Goals that make up the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. An integrated approach is crucial for progress across the multiple goals.

UNDP’s policy and programme support focuses on supporting countries (and cities) to implement policies and initiatives for achieving SDG 11 and the New Urban Agenda. Given the scope of urban challenges, UNDP will continue to work with a diverse set of partners and stakeholders—as part of a ‘coalition’—in addressing challenges to urbanization at the local, regional and national levels.

Urban residents in well-planned cities enjoy better access to employment opportunities, healthcare, education and public services compared to their rural counterparts. This is an opportunity to ensure that the urban infrastructure being built is climate resilient [1] and provides a better quality of life for the people who will live there. Better governance, planning and management mechanisms and access to affordable financing will be critical determinants of the sustainability, resilience, and inclusiveness of future urban centers.

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