11 Nov 2019 - The words ethics and cities have recently been combined by philosophers and urbanists to focus on a turn towards sustainability in the urban century. Climate Change charges this turn with an alarming urgency. While we know that there is no single solution to meet this challenge, today it is recognized that cities have the capacity, resources, and ability to find solutions within the UN Sustainable Development Goals.  As stated by the C40 organization, “the outcome of climate change begins in the cities”.

In Chile, our National Urban Development Policy, Sustainable Cities and Quality of Life (NUDP 2014), lays the foundations and guidelines for the improvement of our cities, not only in their physical aspects but also in cultural aspects and in pursuit of sustainable objectives. In this way, we want to highlight the significant role of cities and their ability to improve the conditions of the planet and the lives of its inhabitants. This policy is based on the “conviction that our cities and populated centres could be much better than they are if, as Chileans, we agree on some fundamental aspects that govern its formation and development”.

Why Cities?

The NUDP places the urban issue as a “national theme” and a key pillar for our development. The policy objectives of quality of life and sustainability force us to urgently face the challenges of climate change.

  • 70% of cities are already suffering the effects of climate change and 90% of all urban settlements that are located on the coastal edges. It will be these settlements, and among them the poorest, that are first affected by the rise in the level of the oceans.
  • Of the 9 criteria of vulnerability to climate change, Chile and its cities meet 7 of these: Low-lying coastal areas; Arid zones and Forest zones; Territory susceptible to natural disasters; Urban areas with air pollution; Areas prone to drought and desertification; Mountainous Ecosystems. [1]
  • Changes that affect the water supply will impact more than 50% of the world’s population living in cities today. [2]
  • In the case of Chile, 87% of its population lives in cities, and its capital city faces the effects of desertification.


[1] Ministerio del Medio Ambiente. (2019). Simulaciones Climáticas.

[2] Plan de Adaptación al cambio climático para ciudades 2018-2022, 6/2018 (MMA, MINVU 2018).

Image by Simon Steinberger from Pixabay.

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UN Global Compact Cities Programme
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UN Global Compact Cities Programme