Social Governance

General Assembly Examines Worldwide Progress Towards Sustainable Urbanisation

Published on: 01 May 2022
by KnowESG
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Six out of ten people are likely to live in cities by the end of the decade. The United Nations General Assembly recently convened to evaluate progress toward implementing a 2016 framework on sustainable urbanisation.

Set a new trend

President Abdulla Shahid of the United Nations General Assembly spoke about how sustainable urbanisation may help to address several interconnected issues, including poverty alleviation, climate action, migration, land degradation, economic development, and the building of a peaceful society. Despite its far-reaching implications, he believes the New Urban Agenda is frequently "under-appreciated."

Mr Shahid said,

"While sustainable urbanisation is related to the achievement of all the Sustainable Development Goals, only a few countries can truly claim that they have in place the governance, and the necessary policies, including inclusive urban planning, capacity development, technology access, and financing necessary to ensure sustainable urbanisation, we need to change this trend."

Representatives from the government, city mayors, corporate leaders, youth, and other stakeholders attended the high-level meeting.

Several activities marked the build-up, including the release of the latest UN Secretary-General's report on implementation, five regional conferences on sustainable development, and a special UN Economic and Social Council meeting (ECOSOC).

Solve inequalities in cities

According to Collen V. Kelapile, President of the ECOSOC, the full implementation of the New Urban Agenda is at the heart of the SDG principle of "leaving no one behind."

The need for money to address "urban inequities," particularly housing access, was one of the significant issues that emerged from the discussions.

Mr Kelapile added,

"Housing has become a commercial commodity, and urban land markets are captured by the political elite. Therefore, Member States are urged to position housing above all as a human right."

He also urged countries to see the difficulty of obtaining funding for affordable housing as a chance to create jobs and a catalyst for cities to increase income.

Nobody is left out

According to Maimunah Sharif, Executive Director of UN-Habitat, the organisation that is the "custodian" of the New Urban Agenda, the urgency on housing is contained in the Secretary-quadrennial General's report, which will guide deliberations at the one-day meeting.

She remembered that the report suggests that countries incorporate the provision of appropriate and affordable housing as a driver of fair development and that housing, like healthcare, jobs, education, and internet access, is at the heart of social protection systems.

“Member States can achieve this by making urban policy a central feature to comprehensively address climate mitigation and adaptation. By aligning spatial and economic development we can protect biodiversity and reduce pollution. We must ensure no one, including the smallest of God’s creations, is left behind,” she said.

Pressure is on

The New Urban Agenda is crucial when cities are under pressure from a variety of sources, including food, water, and energy, as UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed pointed out.

The framework lays out a clear route for creating sustainable communities that prioritise robust economies, a clean environment, and citizens' health, well-being, culture, and security.

It also provides long-term remedies to the climate dilemma.

“When planned well, built in a compact urban form, and supported with high-quality public transport, cities offer the most sustainable form of human settlement,” she said.

"Investing in sustainable urbanisation can also help drive critical food and energy system transformations."

Ms Mohammed also mentioned UN programmes aimed at assisting countries in putting the New Urban Agenda into action.

Governments will get specialised help for developing national urban policies and inclusive urban planning, for example, and urbanisation will be integrated more systematically into development cooperation frameworks.

Source: United Nations