The General Assembly reviews global progress towards sustainable urbanization

The New Urban Agenda presents a shared global vision on how to build, manage and live in cities, through well-planned and well-managed urbanization.

It was adopted just one year after the countries agreed on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the plan for a better future, for people and the planet, for 2030.

Change trend

In his opening remarks, the President of the United Nations General Assembly, Abdulla Shahid, explained how sustainable urbanization can bring about change in various interconnected areas, such as poverty eradication, climate action , migration, land degradation, economic prosperity and the creation of peaceful societies. .

However, he said, the New Urban Agenda has often been “underestimated”, despite its important implications.

“While sustainable urbanization is linked to the achievement of all Sustainable Development Goals, only a few countries can truly claim to have implemented the necessary governance and policies, especially with regard to inclusive urban planning, the capacity to “We need to change that trend,” he said.

The high-level meeting brought together government officials, city mayors, business leaders, youth and other groups.

The preparation was marked by a number of events, including the publication of the latest UN Secretary-General’s report on implementation, five regional forums on sustainable development and a special meeting of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). ).

Ocean Image Bank / Srikanth Mannep

Urban sprawl contributes to a significant reduction in mangroves in Indonesia.

Fight against urban inequalities

The full implementation of the New Urban Agenda is at the heart of the SDGs’ principle of “leaving no one behind”, said Collen V. Kelapile, President of ECOSOC, reporting at its meeting last week.

Among the key messages that emerged from the discussions was the need for funding to address “urban inequalities,” including around access to housing.

“Housing has become a commercial commodity and urban land markets are being captured by the political elite. Therefore, Member States are urged to place housing first and foremost as a human right, ”said Mr. Kelapile.

He also encouraged countries to see the challenge of securing funding for affordable housing as an opportunity to create jobs and as a catalyst to increase the revenue generated by cities.

leave no one behind

The housing imperative is included in the Secretary-General’s four-yearly report, the document that guides the deliberations of the one-day meeting, said Maimunah Sharif, executive director of UN-Habitat, the agency that follows the implementation of the New Urban Agenda.

He recalled that the report recommends that countries integrate the provision of adequate and affordable housing as a driver of equitable development, and added that housing is at the heart of social protection systems, along with health care. employment, education and digital access.

“Member States can achieve this by making urban policy central to a comprehensive approach to climate change mitigation and adaptation. By aligning spatial and economic development, we can protect biodiversity and reduce pollution. We must ensure that no one, not even the smallest of God’s creations, is left behind, ”he said.

Cities under pressure

The New Urban Agenda is essential at a time when cities are facing a lot of pressure, for example on food, water and energy resources, a point raised by UN Under-Secretary-General Amina Mohammed.

The framework sets out a clear path to developing truly sustainable cities, focused on resilient economies, a clean environment and the health, well-being, culture and security that residents need. It also offers sustainable solutions to the climate crisis.

“When well-planned, compactly built and supported by high-quality public transportation, cities provide the most sustainable form of human settlement,” he said. “Investing in sustainable urbanization can also catalyze important transitions in food and energy systems.”

Mrs. Mohammed also highlighted the United Nations initiatives to help countries implement the New Urban Agenda.

Urbanization will be more systematically integrated into development cooperation frameworks, for example, while governments will also receive personalized support for the development of national urban policies and inclusive urban planning.

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