Sustainable urbanization is central to the realization of the global development goals as set out in the suite of global agreements signed in 2015-16, including, most importantly, the Sustainable Development Goals and the Agenda 2030, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Paris Agreement on Climate Agenda, and the New Urban Agenda (NUA). The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) Strategic Plan 2020-2025 focuses on the Agency’s commitment and contribution to the implementation of these global development agendas. Through its normative and operational work, the Agency’s objective is to: “advance sustainable urbanization as a driver of development and peace to improve living conditions for all”.
UN-Habitat’s 2020-2025 Strategic Plan creates a strong narrative of change, clearly articulating the relationship of sustainable urbanization with the overall notion of sustainable development. It is only with a clear transformative strategy, partnerships, and a fresh and innovative vision of development that it is possible to respond to persistent and new development problems, including extreme poverty, socioeconomic inequalities, slums, social exclusion and marginalization, gender-based discrimination, humanitarian crises, conflicts, climate change, and high unemployment, which are increasingly concentrated in urban areas. A holistic approach towards an urbanizing world, connecting cities and other human settlements, can help advance sustainable solutions for the benefit of all.
The Strategic Plan lays out a recalibrated vision and mission, and a sharpened focus. UN-Habitat proposes to serve Member States, sub-national and local governments, and other key urban actors in the pursuit of four mutually reinforcing and integrated domains of change or goals:
1. Reduced poverty and spatial inequality in urban and rural communities;
2. Enhanced shared prosperity of cities and regions;
3. Strengthened climate action and improved urban environment; and
4. Effective urban crisis prevention and response
The realization of these outcomes is supported by a certain number of specific ‘drivers of change’ and ‘organizational enablers.’ Transformative change can only take place through a paradigm shift. UN-Habitat is cognizant of this, and proposes a clear framework that takes into account global trends and focuses on (i) customized solutions taking into account countries in different situations, aligning all efforts focused on the change we want to see; (ii) leveraging partnerships with sister United Nations entities, the private sector, and other development actors and stakeholders; and (iii) significantly enhancing integrated delivery through more effective collaboration across its country offices, regional offices, liaison offices, and the headquarters.
However, implementation of the Strategic Plan 2020-2025 equally requires organizational changes and a new model for financial sustainability to ensure that UN-Habitat resources are commensurate with its mandates and roles.
Once translated into action, this Strategic Plan will reinforce UN-Habitat’s place as the global centre of excellence on sustainable urban development, offering solutions that help seize the opportunities presented by urbanization, while bringing about transformational change for the benefit of millions of people, ensuring that no one and no place is left behind.