City2City
People-Smart Sustainable Cities: Sustainable and Smart Cities for all Ages
The publication highlights that the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that different cities have different capacities to cope with crises. Both the pandemic and the economic crisis caused by lockdown measures have disproportionally affected different cities as well as different groups of the population; the most vulnerable groups of society have suffered the most.

People-Smart Sustainable Cities: Sustainable and Smart Cities for all Ages

by United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) | Published in April 2021

Cities possess massive resources, talent, and creativity and serve as hubs for knowledge sharing, experimentation, and innovation, generating new ideas, embedding these solutions locally, and scaling up successful practices.

Cities, however, are not abstract sustainability-making machines; they are places where real people live, work, study and flourish. Cities are made of people, by people, and for people. Sustainable measures will have to make sense to inhabitants of cities, making their life more liveable. Furthermore, it is people who drive sustainability and who are its ultimate source and beneficiaries. This vision underpins the notion of people-smart sustainable cities, introduced in this publication.

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The Circulate Initiative’s Annual Report 2020
The Circulate Initiative has released its 2020 Annual Report providing an update on its full year progress, accomplishments and outlook for 2021. Despite the challenges of 2020, we continued to support innovators to source, support and scale effective solutions that end plastic leakage into the ocean, especially through the work of The Incubation Network and Urban Ocean.

The Circulate Initiative’s Annual Report 2020

Published in July 2021

There is an estimated 150 million tons of plastic waste in the ocean today, with another 8 million tons added annually. Research by Ocean Conservancy estimates that a 45% reduction in plastic leakage is possible by investing in waste collection and recycling systems in just 5 countries in Asia. However, several factors are hindering the development of inclusive, sustainable and investible waste management and recycling supply chains in South and Southeast Asia: 

  • Lack of capital
  • Shortage of investible ventures 
  • Underdeveloped value chains 
  • Complex policy and regulatory frameworks 
  • Lack of public awareness and participation

The ecosystem of actors working to address this problem needs access to better knowledge and tools to guide decision-making and investment. The Circulate Initiative is working to fill this gap through the incubation of investible and inclusive solutions, and the generation of insights that help to end the plastic pollution crisis and to advance the circular economy.

The Circulate Initiative has released its 2020 Annual Report providing an update on its full-year progress, accomplishments, and outlook for 2021. Despite the challenges of 2020, we continued to support innovators to source, support, and scale effective solutions that end plastic leakage into the ocean, especially through the work of The Incubation Network and Urban Ocean.  

We also leveraged our expertise and network of strategic partners to develop insights on the emerging landscape of plastics claims and credits to help brands, investors and others better evaluate the impact potential and role of these new schemes in the fight to prevent plastic leakage into the environment.

Read the report here: https://d5f869f1-4310-4939-88bb-9d398556b445.filesusr.com/ugd/77554d_091ac9c0ab7d420988c67653944e07bc.pdf

Learn more about The Circulate Initiative here: https://www.thecirculateinitiative.org/

LEVERAGING URBANIZATION AND GOVERNANCE FOR GROWTH IN AFRICA: A FRAMEWORK FOR ACTION

This policy paper was developed under the guidance of the Expert Review Group (ERG), a joint initiative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and UN-Habitat, the United Nations agency

mandated to work on urban issues. The paper aims at summarizing potential opportunities for leveraging urbanization for economic growth in Africa and highlighting priority areas of engagement for a future joint UNDP/UN-Habitat task force. Furthermore, it provides a comprehensive but summarized shopping list of ideas to build a framework of action for this task force. The paper identifies key players and partners in the Africa region working on urbanization issues for designing sustainable partnerships and engaging in transformative collaboration in Africa. The paper was developed in liaison with the UNDP and UN-Habitat teams and follows a framing paper submitted to the ERG in November 2015. It benefited from comments received and discussions made during a two-day expert meeting in Kigali in November 2015.

To this effect, UNDP’s Regional Service Centre for Africa, in collaboration with the UN-Habitat, intends to explore the accelerators to urban economic transformation in Africa–including security, rule of law, and social governance. The goal is to provide scenarios on what needs to change in the way the urban sector is governed in Africa to facilitate positive economic transformations.

Through developing this policy paper, UNDP seeks to advance collaboration and partnership with UN-Habitat at the regional and country level. In this partnership, UN-Habitat will act as the technical partner and UNDP as the development partner. UNDP, through the Addis Ababa-based Regional Service Centre will provide the requisite support for robust joint programming on ‘Urbanization for Development in Africa.’

This policy paper will guide the joint efforts of the two sister UN agencies in providing support through a regional programme guiding transformational development plans and policies at the country level.

Global State of National Urban Policy 2021: Achieving Sustainable Development Goals and Delivering Climate Action
National Urban Policy (NUP) is a key instrument to achieve sustainable urban development in a shared responsibility across countries, regions, and cities. The overarching objective of the report is to assist national governments in advancing their NUP processes, especially in creating a stronger link between NUPs and urban-related global agendas, such as the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and the New Urban Agenda, and in mainstreaming climate action into NUPs.

Global State of National Urban Policy 2021: Achieving Sustainable Development Goals and Delivering Climate Action

by OECD, UN-Habitat and Cities Alliance | Published on June 25, 2021 

National Urban Policy (NUP) is a key instrument to achieve sustainable urban development in a shared responsibility across countries, regions, and cities. The scale and urgency of the current urban challenges have given prominence to NUPs. The COVID-19 crisis has amplified the potential of NUPs in shaping more resilient, green, and inclusive cities as part of countries' recovery packages. This report reviews NUPs of 162 countries across the globe. Building on the first edition launched in 2018, the report serves as a critical source of information and analysis for policymakers and urban professionals, as it establishes the foundation for understanding how and in what forms NUPs have been developed, implemented, and monitored globally.

The overarching objective of the report is to assist national governments in advancing their NUP processes, especially in creating a stronger link between NUPs and urban-related global agendas, such as the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and the New Urban Agenda, and in mainstreaming climate action into NUPs. The report is a co-creation of the OECD, UN-Habitat, and Cities Alliance, as a key outcome of the National Urban Policy Programme, a global partnership launched in 2016 at the Habitat III Conference.

Read the full report here

Smart, Sustainable and Resilient cities: the Power of Nature-based Solutions
This report, produced by UNEP in close collaboration with the Italian Presidency of the G20, investigates the potential of NbS to help build smart, sustainable, and resilient cities, drawing from more than a decade of research and experience from G20 countries and beyond. It offers an overview of the best practices of Nature-based Solutions implementation in cities around the world, and a set of guiding principles to improve territorial governance and establish multi-level governance frameworks to increase the impact and coherence of policies and private investments.

Smart, Sustainable and Resilient cities: the Power of Nature-based Solutions

by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) | 23 July 2021

Cities are engines for development and provide opportunities for innovation and interaction. But cities can also exacerbate some of the world’s most serious environmental and socioeconomic challenges, and at the same time, citizens and urban infrastructure are vulnerable. For cities to make peace with nature, we need to plan and design cities and urban infrastructure with nature in mind.

Nature-based Solutions (NbS) can help cities address urgent and fundamental environmental challenges by bringing ecosystem services back into cities and rebalancing cities’ relationships with their surrounding areas. By accelerating the implementation of NbS, decision-makers can help cities adapt to the effects of climate change, reduce urban heat island effects and cooling needs in buildings, clean air, manage water.

This report, produced by UNEP and UNDP in close collaboration with the Italian Presidency of the G20, investigates the potential of NbS to help build smart, sustainable and resilient cities, drawing from more than a decade of research and experience from G20 countries and beyond. It offers an overview of the best practices of NbS implementation in cities around the world, and a set of guiding principles to improve territorial governance and establish multi-level governance frameworks to increase the impact and coherence of policies and private investments.

The goal is to inspire further action by national governments and city authorities to enhance NbS in cities to reduce their vulnerability to climate change. In this framework, Covid-19 recovery plans offer a great opportunity to scale up NbS in cities, with a view to building back better in ways that protect, conserve, and restore our ecosystems and their services, while addressing the social and economic challenges of urban areas and significantly reducing environmental impacts.

Read the full report here

Progress Report: Sustainable Development Goal 11 (Target 11.1)
The report first discusses the components of Indicator 11.1.1 and their measurement, then analyses progress according to available data. It also provides national and local perspectives from areas with the most pronounced negative and positive trends. It also discusses some of the critical issues concerning progress or regression on Target 11.1. Based on available forecasts, it considers the future need for adequate housing through projections on slum dweller population for 2030. Finally, it presents recommendations for further action on the basis of its findings.

Progress Report: Sustainable Development Goal 11 (Target 11.1)

by Habitat for Humanity International | Published in March 2021

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development aims to achieve the global goal of ending poverty and other deprivations by the implementation of 17 Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs. Progress toward each of the SDGs is measured through a monitoring framework that contains 169 targets and 231 indicators.1 More than five years after the launch of the SDG framework, we are now in the “Decade of Action,” during which the SDGs are to be achieved by 2030. According to the 2019 U.N. High-Level Political Forum, or HLPF, the SDGs are far from being achieved. The 2020 HLPF highlighted that inequalities among and within countries have deepened, and progress toward the SDGs has been delayed or reversed as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Habitat for Humanity, with the vision of creating a world where everyone has a decent place to live, works toward the recognition of housing as a platform for sustainable development and emphasizes the central role of housing in building better cities. Habitat has encouraged member states to include adequate housing in the Agenda 2030 and has promoted programs and policies to achieve progress toward goals and targets related to housing.

This report gives an overview of the global effort toward achieving SDG 11, which seeks to “Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable,” focusing on Target 11.1 — “By 2030, ensure access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services and upgrade slums” — and the Indicator 11.1.1: “Proportion of urban population living in slums, informal settlements or inadequate housing.” This report relies on desk research and a review of literature from online sources and reports by U.N. agencies, multilateral bodies and civil society, including UNHABITAT, Cities Alliance, U.N. Environment Programme, U.N. Development Programme, World Bank, Voluntary National Reviews and Voluntary Local Reviews, mainly from 2018 to 2020. The consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic for Target 11.1 are not considered in the analyses of this report.

At the U.N. HLPF in 2020, it was made clear that Target 11.1 is one of the five targets that is regressing (out of 35 measured of 161 in total). The proportion of the world’s urban population living in slums grew to 24% by 2018, compared with the previous decrease from 28% to 23% between 2000 and 2014. The absolute number of the urban slum population continued to increase, and by 2018 it exceeded 1 billion, with the largest slum and informal settlement dweller populations in East and Southeast Asia (370 million), Sub-Saharan Africa (238 million) and Central and South Asia (227 million). While slums are mostly concentrated in developing countries, lack of housing affordability affects people in developed countries as well. Projections for 2030 estimate a further increase in the number of slum dwellers to 1.2 billion, with the largest proportional increase occurring in Africa. With these facts in mind and recognizing the anticipated long-term global impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, regression and lack of progress toward achieving Target 11.1 is likely to continue if no additional efforts are taken.

This report attributes the main causes of the lack of progress within SDG 11.1 to population growth, rapid urbanisation, natural population increase, climate change impact, migration, political and economic instability, systemic inequalities, ineffective urban planning, local governance, land and housing policies, and housing finance instruments.

Additional critical issues considered include the lack of prioritization of housing in development programs, including the lack of adequate funding, lack of recognition of the complexity of the housing ecosystem, lack of coordination and collaboration between stakeholders, including at different levels of governance, and dependency of progress in Goal 11 from progress on other goals (such as SDG 1: No poverty, SDG 6: Clean water and sanitation, SDG 8: Decent work, SDG 10: Reduced inequalities, and SDG 13: Climate action). Furthermore, shortcomings of data collection and reporting are identified as a critical issue, especially in terms of the lack of updated global data on housing affordability and underreporting of Target 11.1 in the global monitoring framework, which drives attention and resources away from the problem.

This paper argues that cities have a defining role in global sustainable development3 because of their social and economic weight and connections beyond their boundaries. The population of urban slums and informal settlements is a major contributor to cities’ social, economic and environmental landscape and development opportunities. Therefore, progress in SDG 11 and Target 11.1 is directly or indirectly a driver for achieving the entire 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Habitat for Humanity believes that we can achieve better outcomes and greater impact if the global housing challenge is addressed with people at the centre, especially the most vulnerable, and is implemented through people-public-private partnerships and with a deeper understanding of the entire housing ecosystem.

Specific recommendations, elaborated on in the final section of this paper, include:

  • Positioning housing at the center of programs and policies concerning cities, for building better and more sustainable cities and communities, including the provision of adequate funding for interventions.
  • Application of a housing ecosystems perspective in the planning, design, implementation and monitoring of housing interventions, including the understanding of needs and priorities of low-income families, existing capacity and resources of local governments, market conditions and the policy environment. Solutions require integrated interventions.
  • Building and maintaining strong people-public-private partnerships in the design, implementation and monitoring of interventions at all levels, including institutionalized forms of public participation.
  • Improvement of data collection, reporting and monitoring concerning Target 11.1, especially concerning housing affordability, disaggregated data on housing adequacy criteria, and a composite index for Indicator 11.1.1, and more frequent and thorough national and local reporting.

Read the full report here: https://www.habitat.org/sites/default/files/documents/SDG%20Progress%20Report_0.pdf

Regional indicators for the Sustainable Development Goals
This report proposes a number of indicators aimed at facilitating the work of European regional governments that want to monitor how their policies contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and what are their progresses toward them.

Regional indicators for the Sustainable Development Goals

PUBLICATION | 20 MAY 2021 | by Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission

For this purpose, this report analyses four European SDG sub-national indicator sets. The analysis starts identifying which indicators included in the European Handbook for SDG Voluntary Local Reviews (published by the European Commission in 2020) and proposed for the local level are also meaningful and available at the regional level. After this first step, three case studies are analysed: the Basque Country and Navarre in Spain, and Flanders in Belgium.

In spite of the differences between the case studies of the Basque Country, Navarra and Flanders, there are also remarkable similarities in these examples, which shows once again that the 2030 Agenda allows to speak a "common language”.

Any regional government willing to take the proposed consolidated indicator system as the basis for the development of its own monitoring system, it might select the indicators that are more relevant to the local situation and integrate them with additional indicators identified in the specific regional context.

Download the full report here

Retrieved from https://knowledge4policy.ec.europa.eu/publication/regional-indicators-sustainable-development-goals_en

European SDG Voluntary Local Reviews: A comparative analysis of local indicators and data

European SDG Voluntary Local Reviews: A comparative analysis of local indicators and data

by

o/departments/joint-research-centre_en">Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission

Read the full report here

Abstract: This report explores the use of local indicators by European Voluntary Local Reviews on the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals between 2016 and early 2021. This report has been prepared by a European Commission external expert in the framework of the URBAN 2030 project developed by the Joint Research Centre to support local governments in monitoring the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its SDGs at local level — in particular by promoting transformative and inclusive action for their localisation.

Authors: CIAMBRA Andrea

Editors: SIRAGUSA AlicePROIETTI Paola

Citation: Ciambra, A., European SDG Voluntary Local Reviews: A comparative analysis of local indicators and data, Siragusa, A. and Proietti, P. editor(s), Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, 2021, ISBN 978-92-76-32321-1, doi:10.2760/9692, JRC124580.

Publisher: Publications Office of the European Union

JRC Number: JRC124580

ISBN: 978-92-76-32321-1

Other Identifiers: OP KJ-05-21-093-EN-N

URI: https://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/handle/JRC124580

DOI: 10.2760/9692

Retrieved from https://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/handle/JRC124580

Pancakes to Pyramids: City Form to Promote Sustainable Growth

Pancakes to Pyramids: City Form to Promote Sustainable Growth

by The World Bank | Published on 31 May

2021

Read the full report here

Towns and cities are economic and social microcosms in which large numbers of people and firms interact. These interactions largely shape how a city looks, how it functions, and how it grows. But how exactly does this many-sided relationship work? What are the specific drivers of urban economic and spatial development? Pancakes to Pyramids brings us closer to answering these questions, beginning with an idealized contrast between two patterns of urban spatial growth. Pancakes are cities that grow outward and remain relatively low-built. Pyramids are cities that grow partly outward, but also partly inward and upward, filling vacant parcels and adding height to central districts to increase economic and residential densities. Both types of density can help cities overcome the challenges that come with population growth, and most urgently, evolving from a pancake into a pyramid, creating a platform with more options for controlling greenhouse gas emissions. This report draws on new evidence, econometric analysis, and predictive modeling to relate the economic growth of cities to their past spatial evolution, and to the possibility and conditions for future pyramidal growth.

Report Highlights:

  • New empirical analysis of the shape and growth of nearly 10,000 cities around the world and rigorous economic modeling finds that the most successful urban areas are those that connect physical growth to economic demand and support this with good plans, policies and investments that help avoid uncontrolled sprawl.
  • Using data to understand what makes a city grow outward, inward or upward can help us better understand the interplay between city density and public transport and non-car modes of transportation, to help cities reduce their climate footprints.

Key Messages:

Managing city growth requires that city leaders solve a three-dimensional problem.

  • City leaders will need to plan and prepare for urban growth along all three dimensions—not only the vertical layering and infill development that will be enabled by future economic productivity, but also horizontal growth that will occur at the city’s edge.

City growth is driven by economic fundamentals.

  • The forces that peak a city’s skyline, signaling high demand for floor space in the central business district, are those of economic agglomeration. They are the same forces that drive production of goods and job creation.

Flexible regulations are needed for urban redevelopment.

  • Regulations need to be adaptable to changing demand and supply conditions, anticipating the emergence of new uses for scarce urban land.
  • Also important here is to conserve irreplaceable cultural and natural amenities—these have not only intangible permanent value, but also a unique potential to create economic value and attract investment through neighborhood regeneration.

Early investments in network infrastructure shape cities' economic development.

  • A principal factor in setting a city’s growth path is its plan for networked infrastructure, including roads and transit arteries between the city center and periphery.
  • Some capital investments are best to plan for—or even finance and execute—in the earlier spatial development stages, when cities stand to benefit disproportionally over the life of the investment.

Some interesting takeaways from the report include:

The growth of urban built-up area worldwide is not as large as conventional wisdom suggests.

  • Between 1990 and 2015, urban built-up area worldwide grew by 30 percent, or 66,000 km2, the size of Sri Lanka, through both horizontal spread and infill. In developing countries, total urban built-up area increased by 34 percent.[1] Significant, but not quite the explosive and rapacious expansion estimated in many recent studies.

Horizontal growth is inevitable for most cities in most developing countries.

  • In low-income and lower-middle-income countries, 90 percent of urban built-up area expansion occurs as horizontal growth.
  • Nevertheless, there is a silver lining: in high-income and upper-middle-income country cities, a larger share of new built-up area is provided through infill development. For example, a city in a high-income country that increases its built-up area by 100 m2 will add about 35 m2 through infill development and 65 m2 through horizontal spread. But a similar city in a low-income country will add about 90 m2 through horizontal spread and only 10 m2 from infill.

Increasing economic productivity and rising incomes are indispensable for vertical layering, because building tall is capital intensive.

  • A city that grows in population, but not in productivity and incomes, will not generate enough economic demand for its spatial expansion to keep pace with population growth.
  • Our econometric results show that:
    • If a city’s population doubles but incomes stay constant, the city’s floor space per person declines by 40 percent.
    • If per capita income doubles but population stays constant, the city’s total floor space per person increases by 29 percent.
    • Building tall is capital intensive–so increasing productivity and incomes are critical for a rise in floor space per person through vertical layering and pyramidal growth.

Dysfunctional urban land markets, along with zoning and restrictive building regulations, are factors that can work against taller structures, economic density and pyramidal growth.

Improved transport technology enables economic concentration in urban cores, supports cities’ economic and spatial growth, and boosts demand for livable residential floor space.

  • Many developing country cities today struggle with the high road congestion and commuting costs—in time and money—that result from poor transport infrastructure and limited public transit options. Such congestion impedes the separation of residence from the workplace, limiting cities’ spatial expansion along with their economic growth and productivity.

[1] Forecasts by Jones et al (2021), prepared for the European Commission using the Degree of Urbanization approach, predict that total urban land area will grow 29 percent between 2015 and 2050—in line with the spatial growth rates we measure here for 1990–2015.

Pancakes to Pyramids was funded by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) through the World Bank Umbrella Multi-Donor Trust Fund Sustainable Urban and Regional Development (SURGE), and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) through the Global Platform for Sustainable Cities (GPSC). 

Content retrieved from:

Pancakes to Pyramids: City Form to Promote Sustainable Growth

Supported by empirical analysis of the shape and growth of nearly 10,000 cities around the world  and rigorous economic modeling, “Pancakes to Pyramids: City Form to Promote Sustainable Growth

," helps us understand the drivers of city growth.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • New empirical analysis of the shape and growth of nearly 10,000 cities around the world and rigorous economic modeling finds that the most successful urban areas are those that connect physical growth to economic demand and support this with good plans, policies and investments that help avoid uncontrolled sprawl.
  • Using data to understand what makes a city grow outward, inward or upward can help us better understand the interplay between city density and public transport and non-car modes of transportation, to help cities reduce their climate footprints.

https://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/urbandevelopment/publication/pancakes-to-pyramids