Smart city initiative for a rapidly urbanizing eastern African city

There is currently a continental push for 'smart cities' amongst the leadership to incorporate 'smart cities' into their urbanization strategies. This move means cities can tackle unplanned urbanization and high population growth challenges. The Addis Ababa city administration is aware of this challenge and plans to host a Smart City Hub establishment programme with the support of UNDP-Ethiopia. 

Smart city initiative for a rapidly urbanizing eastern African city

Published by UNDP on 29 August 2022

Urbanisation in Ethiopia

Addis Ababa has been a vibrant city since its foundation, serving as Ethiopia's primary economic, social, and political centre for over 130 years. The city has witnessed several developments since its establishment as the capital, a driving force behind much of the continuous and linear population and urban expansion. 

But such developments have not been satisfactorily documented to inform urban developers, researchers, policymakers, and citizens. In developing cities like Addis Ababa, with a fast-growing economy and very complex social problems arising from high population growth and many unsatisfied demands, it is becoming challenging for city administrators to solve many societal problems. 

Throughout the years, the strain on infrastructure and urban footprint has meant that the city's development has lagged in delivering on demand for resources. 

The information gap could have been filled by having a proper urban database that will enable us to obtain data and information on every smart city dimension and open it to the public and the private sector. 

This lack of such an information centre has limited the participation of the different stakeholders in the generation of ideas and sourcing of urban-related data platforms for development planning.  

Following this, the Accelerator Lab plans to focus on exploring how we might create a space for urban innovators that respond to citizens' needs for information, finance, and ideation, which can shape the 'smartness' of the city.

Smart City Hub

Globally, the concept of a smart city is becoming more and more relevant. Despite this development, confusion remains about what a smart city is, and the use of the term is inconsistent. The Smart City approach demands the storage of big data in one centre and a consistent approach to recording data. This will require investment in both technological infrastructure and the human capital to use it.

The African Smart Cities Strategies for Agenda 2063 elaborates on how cities can shape the continent's future and demonstrates that smarter cities can reduce urban challenges. 

At the national level, Ethiopia has also launched 'smart city' efforts encompassing the four pillars of comprehensive development – institutional, physical, social, and economic infrastructure. 

The hub will provide a resource centre to support innovation in urban solutions and leverage already researched and successfully implemented work to facilitate sustainable urban development in the city. The hub will also act as a platform for urban-related data generation contributed by citizens and used by the government as a reliable source of feedback systems with its residents. 

Nevertheless, before the hub establishment, a contextual understanding of a 'smart city' could yield a meaningful definition and comparison among Ethiopian cities. 

What is Next?

The accelerator lab plans to host a series of collective intelligence sessions to understand the contextualized concept of 'smart city hubs' from resident and municipality perspectives. The insight from this exercise will guide thinking around what data and information, think tanks, and idea innovation could be integrated with the hub. 

In addition, we will use participatory design to engage citizens as problem solvers. In order to create an interactive space, the data needs to be visualized and mapped in an engaging and easily consumable way. 

This will allow us to see what type of information would be consumed and sought after. Questions include: Do our learning questions focus on how we can engage the community directly on the problem definition and ideation within the smart city hub? What type of infrastructure, information, and knowledge is needed/desired to set up the smart city hub? What type of partnerships and organizational structures are required? 

This exercise will help to identify the overall pathways to developing a smart city hub.

We will be sharing our findings and what we learned in the next blog, but we would love to hear your comments and suggestion, so feel free to reach out on social media or at

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Cleaning the Air and Improving People’s Health in Almaty

What needs to be done to create a prosperous future for people and planet, a future to be realized through the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development? Here at the UNDP Kazakhstan Accelerator Lab, our portfolio of innovative bottom-up solutions is  providing the answer to this question.

As part of the City Experiment Fund programme, we aim to provide the public and local authorities in Almaty with decision-making tools to accelerate sustainable development. Together with our local partners, we provide accurate real-time air quality data and interactive user features on the platform.

Cleaning the Air and Improving People’s Health in Almaty

Through better air quality management tools

Published by UNDP on 5 September 2022


Photo: UNDP Kazakhstan/Alexey Malchenko

What needs to be done to create a prosperous future for people and planet, a future to be realized through the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development? Here at the UNDP Kazakhstan Accelerator Lab, our portfolio of innovative bottom-up solutions is  providing the answer to this question.

As part of the City Experiment Fund programme, we aim to provide the public and local authorities in Almaty with decision-making tools to accelerate sustainable development. Together with our local partners, we provide accurate real-time air quality data and interactive user features on the platform.

We are developing solutions that target different layers of air pollution in Almaty by using a holistic portfolio approach based on cutting-edge technology.

Almaty’s air pollution: magnitude, harm and costs. Spatial and temporal changes in the total concentration of volatile organic compounds and percentage of days per year with PM2concentrations above the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended limits.

Air pollution has become the biggest challenge to urban transformation in Almaty. Air pollution poses the greatest environmental health risk for the public, and has led to a significant number of preventable deaths and illnesses. The WHO Ambient Air Quality Guidelines show that PM2.5 concentrations in Almaty exceed the limits 17-fold in winter.

The economic and health-related costs of air pollution are detrimental for Kazakhstan

The health risks posed by air pollution come at a high economic cost. In 2022, the World Bank estimated that Kazakhstan would experience more than 10,000 annual premature deaths due to air pollution at an economic cost of more than $10.5 billion per year.

Cascading risk analysis

Navigating complexity: how to provide holistic solutions to environmental challenges

Our team identified the lack of air quality data as the overarching problem in tackling air pollution in Almaty. The lack of reliable real-time data has resulted in an air quality data warehouse that prevents accurate estimations, analysis and, as a consequence, an evidence-based developmental policy to target air pollution in Almaty.

As part of our efforts to obtain valid air quality data and to support decision-making by members of the Almaty public and  the government, we set out to monitor Almaty's air quality. To that end, we partnered with the public fund,, which owns the air quality monitoring portal. The portal collects data from local air quality stations installed throughout the city and interprets the data based on the Air Quality Index (AQI), which includes measurements of PM10, PM2.5, NO2, SO2 and CO. The data can be accessed through the web portal and the mobile application.

The portal has an educational and a participatory component. It provides the public with news, educational content and recommendations on how to protect oneself from air pollution – the aim being to raise awareness. The portal also offers the Almaty public a one-stop-shop access to submit complaints, make suggestions and vote for ideas to improve air quality in the city.

Integrated approach

The adoption of an engage-inform-participatory framework meant that innovative solutions could be introduced to enhance its components. We are working to incentivize public engagement and to promote grassroots solutions through gamification. Building on the platform's existing engagement channels, including social media, offline events and bilateral meetings, we are using game-based activities to incentivize a broader audience to engage. With the goal of educating and promoting public and green transportation, we reward users who take part in sustainable activities and award points in the competition for grand prizes.

To better identify key air pollutants and capture air pollution dynamics, we have supplemented existing air quality data from local sensors with traffic emissions data and analysis of historical air quality data. In that way, we are providing a more informative decision-making tool.

Building a healthier Almaty through improved dynamic air management tool

Our air quality monitoring initiative is a successful start to unravelling the complex problem of air pollution in Almaty. With our integrated air quality analysis and integrative capabilities, we will provide improved support for public participation and for a robust evidence-based policy.

With our efforts, we can make Almaty a more attractive city and reduce per capita pollution. Our air quality findings will also accelerate Kazakhstan's pace toward carbon neutrality by 2060.

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UNDP Gender Equality Strategy 2022-2025

UNDP’s Gender Equality Strategy 2022-2025, aligned with its Strategic Plan, guides UNDP in its efforts to assist countries in accelerating progress on gender equality and the empowerment of women over the next four years. It aims to move beyond piecemeal efforts and to instead help countries to shift power structures and the economic, social, and political systems that perpetuate discrimination.

Gender Equality Strategy 2022-2025

Published by UNDP on 13 September 2022

The Gender Equality Strategy 2022-2025 has been written in unprecedented times. The COVID-19 pandemic has imperilled every dimension of our wellbeing and amplified a sense of fear across the globe, and there is an alarming escalation in armed violence. This strategy responds to reflections around two key concerns. First, why has progress towards gender equality been so slow and scattered, and even reversed? Second, what can UNDP best do in response?

In the next four years, UNDP will accelerate and scale up results, working with countries and partners to contribute to gender equality, including by:

  • Assisting 80 countries to expand care services and redistribute care work.
  • Supporting 250 million women to gain access to productive uses of clean energy.
  • Helping 1 million more women to access and control digital assets.
  • Mobilizing over US$100 billion to contribute to gender equality through taxation systems, public spending, debt instruments and private capital investments.
  • Certifying 500 public institutions and private companies with the Gender Equality Seal.

Access the full report and the summary version (in English and French) here:

Zoom Webinar: Ending Energy Poverty

The Center on Global Energy Policy and the Zayed Sustainability Prize will host a discussion on topics relating to universal access to clean and affordable energy and how addressing energy poverty can be a trigger for economically stronger and climate resilient communities. Leading global experts will discuss their thoughts on current trends, the role of small businesses and NGOs in helping end energy poverty, and climate resilience challenges related to food security, clean water, and public health. 

Ending Energy Poverty

Zoom Webinar on 23 September 2022 (10-11 AM Eastern Standard Time) | Register here

by Center on Global Energy Policy (CGEP) at Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA)

Universal access to clean and affordable energy is a moral imperative and central to achieving the United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. With the world in the midst of its worst energy crisis in decades, what are the impacts of the crisis on energy poverty in the short- and long-term? Will the crisis accelerate or slow the transition to clean energy, and why? 


  • David Sandalow, Inaugural Fellow, Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University SIPA


  • Mansoor Hamayun, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, Bboxx
  • Harish Hande, CEO, SELCO Foundation
  • Gauri Singh, Deputy Director General, IRENA


This webinar will be hosted via Zoom. Advance registration is required. Upon registration, you will receive a confirmation email with access details. The event will be recorded and the video recording will be added to our website following the event.
This event is open to press, and registration is required to attend. For media inquiries or requests for interviews, please contact Natalie Volk (
For more information about the event, please contact

Daring Cities 2022: Global Virtual Forum for Urban Leaders Taking on the Climate Emergency

Daring Cities 2022: Global Virtual Forum for Urban Leaders Taking on the Climate Emergency 

When: October 3-7, 2022 

Timezone: GMT+2

Location: Bonn, Germany and Virtual Attendance

ICLEI and the Federal City of Bonn welcome you to Daring Cities, a virtual, global forum on climate change for urban leaders taking on the climate emergency. Daring Cities is designed to empower urban decision-makers – such as mayors, city councilors, administrators, and urban thought leaders, as well as national government representatives, researchers, technical staff, business leaders, civil society decision-makers and community organizers – to lead in the climate emergency.

The current challenge: Taking on the climate emergency

With the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic, every sector of society across every corner of the globe has been turned upside down, and the work to address climate change is being reprioritized, interrupted or delayed. Local and regional governments have had to redeploy sustainability resources to ensure immediate safeguarding of their residents and employees.

On the international level, we are experiencing major disruptions of the global climate process.

But climate science hasn’t changed. The climate emergency is still happening right now, in our cities, towns and regions around the world. 

Our global leaders are struggling to address this urgent crisis. But the daring actions of local leaders are spreading around the globe.

Created by ICLEI and the Federal City of Bonn, Daring Cities is a virtual, action-oriented forum to recognize and empower courageous urban leaders – including mayors and other decision-makers, technical staff, researchers, private sector representatives, and community organizers – to disrupt business-as-usual and shift towards business-as-possible. Daring Cities showcases and catalyzes exemplary local climate action to tackle the climate emergency, including ambitious resilience-building and climate mitigation efforts.

Learn more about the program and register here:

Human Development Report 2021/22 - Animated Explainer
Learn about the key findings from the new Human Development Report 2021/22 "Uncertain Times, Unsettled Lives: Shaping our Future in a Transforming World" through this short animated explainer video.

Human Development Report 2021/22 - Animated Explainer

Posted by UNDP on 8 September 2022

We live in a world of worry. The ongoing Covid-19 pan­demic, having driven reversals in human development in almost every country, continues to spin off variants unpre­dictably. War in Ukraine and elsewhere has created more human suffering. Record-breaking temperatures, fires, storms and floods sound the alarm of planetary systems increasingly out of whack. Together, they are fuelling a cost-of-living crisis felt around the world, painting a pic­ture of uncertain times and unsettled lives.

Uncertainty is not new, but its dimensions are taking om­inous new forms today. A new “uncertainty complex” is emerging, never before seen in human history. Constitut­ing it are three volatile and interacting strands: the desta­bilizing planetary pressures and inequalities of the Anthro­pocene, the pursuit of sweeping societal transformations to ease those pressures and the widespread and intensi­fying polarization.

This new uncertainty complex and each new crisis it spawns are impeding human development and unsettling lives the world over. In the wake of the pandemic, and for the first time ever, the global Human Development Index (HDI) value declined—for two years straight. Many coun­tries experienced ongoing declines on the HDI in 2021. Even before the pandemic, feelings of insecurity were on the rise nearly everywhere. Many people feel alienated from their political systems, and in another reversal, dem­ocratic backsliding has worsened.

There is peril in new uncertainties, in the insecurity, polar­ization and demagoguery that grip many countries. But there is promise, too—an opportunity to reimagine our futures, to renew and adapt our institutions and to craft new stories about who we are and what we value. This is the hopeful path forward, the path to follow if we wish to thrive in a world in flux.

Read the full report and more: 

Multiple crises halt progress as 9 out of 10 countries fall backwards in human development, UNDP report warns

For the first time in the 32 years that UNDP have been calculating it, the Human Development Index, which measures a nation’s health, education, and standard of living, has declined globally for two years in a row. Human development has fallen back to its 2016 levels, reversing much of the progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.

Multiple crises halt progress as 9 out of 10 countries fall backwards in human development, UNDP report warns

The world must jolt itself out of its global paralysis to secure the future of people and planet by re-booting its development trajectory

Published on 8 September 2022 by UNDP

For the first time in the 32 years that UNDP have been calculating it, the Human Development Index, which measures a nation’s health, education, and standard of living, has declined globally for two years in a row. Human development has fallen back to its 2016 levels, reversing much of the progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals. Photo by UNDP Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People (PAPP)

New York - The world is lurching from crisis to crisis, trapped in a cycle of firefighting and unable to tackle the roots of the troubles that confront us. Without a sharp change of course, we may be heading towards even more deprivations and injustices, warns the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The latest Human Development Report, “Uncertain Times, Unsettled Lives: Shaping our Future in a Transforming World”, launched today by UNDP, argues that layers of uncertainty are stacking up and interacting to unsettle life in unprecedented ways. The last two years have had a devastating impact for billions of people around the world, when crises like COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine hit back-to-back, and interacted with sweeping social and economic shifts, dangerous planetary changes, and massive increases in polarization.

The reversal is nearly universal as over 90 percent of countries registered a decline in their HDI score in either 2020 or 2021 and more than 40 percent declined in both years, signaling that the crisis is still deepening for many.

While some countries are beginning to get back on their feet, recovery is uneven and partial, further widening inequalities in human development. Latin America, the Caribbean, Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia have been hit particularly hard.

“The world is scrambling to respond to back-to-back crises. We have seen with the cost of living and energy crises that, while it is tempting to focus on quick fixes like subsidizing fossil fuels, immediate relief tactics are delaying the long-term systemic changes we must make,” says Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator. “We are collectively paralyzed in making these changes. In a world defined by uncertainty, we need a renewed sense of global solidarity to tackle our interconnected, common challenges.”

The report explores why the change needed isn’t happening and suggests there are many reasons, including how insecurity and polarization are feeding off each other today to prevent the solidarity and collective action we need to tackle crises at all levels. New calculations show, for instance, that those feeling most insecure are also more likely to hold extreme political views.

“Even before COVID-19 hit, we were seeing the twin paradoxes of progress with insecurity and polarisation. Today, with one-third of people worldwide feeling stressed and fewer than a third of people worldwide trusting others, we face major roadblocks to adopting policies that work for people and planet,” says Achim Steiner. “This thought-provoking new analysis aims to help us break this impasse and chart a new course out of our current global uncertainty. We have a narrow window to re-boot our systems and secure a future built on decisive climate action and new opportunities for all.”

To chart a new course, the report recommends implementing policies that focus on investment — from renewable energy to preparedness for pandemics, and insurance—including social protection— to prepare our societies for the ups and downs of an uncertain world. While innovation in its many forms—technological, economic, cultural—can also build capacities to respond to whatever challenges come next.

“To navigate uncertainty, we need to double down on human development and look beyond improving people’s wealth or health,” says UNDP’s Pedro Conceição, the report’s lead author. “These remain important. But we also need to protect the planet and provide people with the tools they need to feel more secure, regain a sense of control over their lives and have hope for the future.”

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To learn more about the 2022 Human Development Report and UNDP’s analysis on navigating the new uncertainty complex, visit

For media inquiries, please contact

Carolina Given Sjolander | Communications Specialist | Mobile: +1 347 908 4008 | Email:

Victor Garrido Delgado | Media Specialist, UNDP | Mobile:1-917-995-1687 | Email:

Seizing the digital moment: From interlocking challenges to interoperable solutions

Digital public infrastructure (DPI) is the underlying network of digital systems, which is increasingly being built by adopting digital public goods (DPGs) to enable society-wide functions and services. At its core, #DPGs4DPI provides the basis to address global challenges with a whole-of-society approach. However, this requires urgent cooperation, action and investment.

Seizing the digital moment: From interlocking challenges to interoperable solutions

Published on 8 September 2022 by UNDP


Workers build a wire fence in a nursery plantation.

Digital public infrastructure (DPI) is the network of digital systems that enable society-wide functions and services. Countries are increasingly investing in DPI by adopting digital public goods (DPGs). Photo: UNDP Iraq

"Digital public infrastructure is becoming as essential to society as physical infrastructure, such as roads or railways."

At the upcoming 77th Session of the UN General Assembly, world leaders alongside members of the private sector and civil society will convene on 21 September for a side-event titled: ‘The Future of Digital Cooperation: Building Resilience through Safe, Trusted, and Inclusive Digital Public Infrastructure’. The event will map out a bold, inclusive and innovative digital cooperation agenda to put the rights of people at the centre of digital public infrastructure, and garner the technological and financial contributions needed to move it forward. Save the date to join the event online.

Disease outbreaks, food insecurity, political instability, economic volatility and climate change – today’s unprecedented global crises highlight a range of interlocking challenges. As a global community, we need to foster international cooperation that strengthens digital ecosystems and delivers meaningful impact. How can we build safe, trusted and inclusive digital public infrastructure that not only helps countries respond to current challenges, but enables them to effectively anticipate and mitigate future ones?

DPI can address complex realities 

Digital public infrastructure is becoming as essential to society as physical infrastructure, such as roads or railways.

The degree to which countries were able to adapt to large-scale COVID-19 lockdowns or effectively manage the uptick in public health demands was determined by their existing digital infrastructure, and in some cases their capacity to quickly mobilize local digital ecosystems to create digital solutions.

Whenever conflicts disrupt people’s lives, timely and people-centric DPI is critical for addressing their immediate needs. In countries that lack data-driven early-warning systems, the increased frequency of extreme weather has been particularly catastrophic, impacting food security, economy and the overall well-being of people. 

These challenges share a common thread: digital solutions are needed for inclusive and resilient responses, and underscore the need for equitable access to digital public infrastructure.

DPI in itself is not a silver bullet but can ensure that conditions and systems are in place to co-create localized, context-appropriate digital solutions. It provides an opportunity to flip the traditional donor-recipient development paradigm on its head, by engaging countries across income levels and diverse actors across society.

A sustainable foundation with #DPGs4DPI

People interact with DPI every day, from accessing public e-health services to using electronic payment systems for e-commerce. But, not all DPI is created equal. The quality of that interaction is contingent on how that infrastructure is built and implemented. Is it safe? Can it be trusted? Is it inclusive? 

To deliver public and private services effectively, DPI needs to be all three. Countries with systems that are interoperable – where digital payments, identity verification and data exchange systems function as a well integrated network – are better equipped to meet people’s needs and meaningfully accelerate action towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

This is where digital public goods can be leveraged. DPGs are open-source solutions designed with privacy safeguards and a ‘do no harm’ approach. They can be localized to meet context-specific needs and play a vital role in helping countries build DPI with the necessary safeguards.

Unlike proprietary solutions, #DPGs4DPI give governments ownership of their digital transformation journey, and in particular allow them to bypass the pitfalls of vendor lock-in. The open-source nature of DPGs also cultivates sharing and adoption, which facilitates new forms of cooperation between governments, as well as with the private sector and civil society.

Interoperable solutions for today’s world

Around the world, countries have been pioneering interoperable digital solutions through the adoption and adaptation of DPGs. This provides a framework for a rights-based approach to DPI and can help lower the costs of implementation, whilst respecting the agency of implementing countries.

Responding to COVID-19, Jamaica for instance implemented a pair of digital public goodsCommCare to facilitate real-time monitoring of vaccine delivery and distribution, and DIVOC to provide digitally accessible vaccine certificates. The success of these DPGs in other countries provided experiential learnings that facilitated their effective adoption.

In Ukraine, Trembita – the country’s data exchange system – is based on the concept of Estonia’s flagship interoperability system, known as X-Road. Trembita has been providing essential services to Ukrainians, such as registering births online, providing identity card application service, and enabling people to update their place of residence online. Ukraine’s ability to provide social protection and critical service delivery despite the ongoing war further emphasizes the importance of safe, inclusive and secure DPI. 

The benefits of DPI in promoting inclusion and safeguards is also evident with AfCFTA, a cross-border initiative by the 54 countries that make up the African Union, for digital trade on the African continent. Supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), its potential to create the Africa-led common standards and shared principles to enable safe and secure data exchanges and payments is clear.

These examples illustrate that there is no one-size-fits-all digital solution, but by leveraging DPGs, countries can benefit from data and information sharing, shared-value partnerships, and experiential knowledge to scale their DPI to leave no one behind.

Urgent action is needed for digital cooperation

Building safe, trusted and inclusive DPI at global scale requires collective action.

Despite the recent shift towards harnessing emerging digital technology for the public good – especially during COVID-19 – there is a stark contrast between countries with weak digital infrastructure and those with strong ones in place. While some countries are able to capitalize on digital opportunities, others are being left behind. 

Accelerating the #DPGs4DPI agenda offers a unique opportunity to change the existing dynamics. Success will require building inclusive roadmaps and plans; strengthening capacity building models; and putting into place governance frameworks that are user-centric and have accessible redressal mechanisms for people with limited connectivity.

From governments, international organizations, civil society, private sector stakeholders, to funders, everyone can contribute to this new era of digital cooperation.  This includes:

  1. Increasing financial investments in the key levers of digital cooperation for DPI:

Invest in digital public goods that can form part of countries’ foundational digital public infrastructure, as well as those that can help countries accelerate the Paris Climate Accord and collectively solve other pressing global challenges;

Invest in long-term capacity building efforts such as academic knowledge hubs, implementation research programs, engineer training programs, and other types of long-term training efforts in order to foster a healthy digital ecosystem where the public sector can access neutral and local expertise;

Invest in the expertise and services needed for DPGs for DPI to be successful, including legal services, security audits and governance frameworks; and

Invest in civil society organizations, NGOs and academic institutions to build knowledge, create informed and transparent debate and hold governments accountable for how DPI is planned, deployed and implemented.

  1. Facilitating deeper enablement and widespread knowledge sharing around the key levers of digital cooperation for DPIs, including sharing access to and adoption of DPGs to support stakeholders with the knowledge, tools and resources they need to plan and build safe, trusted and inclusive DPI.

Through collective action, we can work towards a diverse set of relevant and sustainable DPGs that are designed, financed and governed to enable countries to access, adopt, and adapt them when building their DPI. We can help strengthen local digital ecosystems so they have sufficient public and private sector capacity to plan, regulate, deploy and evolve DPI. We can build DPI that has sufficient risk assessments and safeguards in place for meaningful society-wide impact and achievement of the SDGs.

All of this requires a bold, inclusive and innovative digital cooperation agenda and now is the time to seize the moment!

Save the date to join the ‘The Future of Digital Cooperation: Building Resilience through Safe, Trusted and Inclusive Digital Public Infrastructure’ UNGA77 side event on 21 September.

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Human Development Report 2021/2022 - Uncertain Times, Unsettled Lives: Shaping our Future in a Transforming World

The central message of this year’s Human Development Report is straightforward: to turn new uncertainties from a threat to an opportunity, we must double down on human development to unleash our creative and cooperative capacities.

Uncertain Times, Unsettled Lives: Shaping our Future in a Transforming World

2021/22 Human Development Report by UNDP | Published in September 2022


We live in a world of worry: the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, war in Ukraine and elsewhere, record-breaking temperatures, fires and storms. Each is a troubling manifestation of an emerging, new uncertainty complex (figure 1) that is unsettling lives around the world. It is driven by three novel, interacting layers of uncertainty at a global scale: the destabilized planetary systems of the Anthropocene, the pursuit of sweeping societal transformations to ease planetary pressures and widespread, intensifying polarization.

Feelings of insecurity are on the rise nearly everywhere—a trend at least a decade in the making. That trend began well before the Covid-19 pandemic, which for first the first time ever, sent global human development in reverse—for two years straight (figure 2).

What is going on? How does the wide-angle lens of human development help us understand and respond to this apparent paradox of progress with insecurity? Such questions animate this year’s Report. The 2019 Human Development Report explored inequalities in human development. The 2020 Human Development Report focused on how those inequalities drive and are exacerbated by the dangerous planetary change of the Anthropocene. UNDP’s 2022 Special Report on Human Security examined the emergence of new forms of insecurity. The 2021/2022 Human Development Report unites and extends these discussions under the theme of uncertainty—how it is changing, what it means for human development and how we can thrive in the face of it.

The central message of this year’s Report is straightforward: to turn new uncertainties from a threat to an opportunity, we must double down on human development to unleash our creative and cooperative capacities.

To do so we must:

  • Expand human agency and freedoms, in addition to wellbeing achievements.
  • Widen the vista on human behaviour, going beyond models of rational self-interest to include emotions, cognitive biases and the critical roles of culture.
  • Implement smart, practical policies that focus on the three I’s:
    • Investment: to form the capabilities people will need in the future and enable socioeconomic and planetary conditions for human flourishing
    • Insurance: to protect people from the unavoidable contingencies of uncertain times and safeguard people’s capabilities, including their fundamental freedoms (human security).
    • Innovation: to generate capabilities that might not exist today.

The direction we head from here is up to us.

Accelerating Urban Inclusion for a Just Recovery
Cities cannot achieve a just recovery without understanding and addressing the barriers to urban inclusion faced by citizens.

Accelerating Urban Inclusion for a Just Recovery

Published by World Economic Forum in August 2022


The COVID-19 pandemic has drawn attention to and at times worsened stark inequalities in cities around the world. Cities’ resilience to both acute crises such as COVID-19 and long-term challenges including climate change depends in great part on their ability to encourage urban inclusion, for example, in terms of access to housing, mobility, public services and economic opportunity.

Different groups – including women, lowincome residents, ethnic and religious minorities, disabled people, migrants, refugees and others – face distinct barriers to urban inclusion. Cities must understand and respond to the unique vulnerabilities – including intersecting vulnerabilities – faced by all urban dwellers.

Cities everywhere, including in low-income and conflict-affected countries, have developed innovative approaches to achieving greater inclusion, spurred on in part by the pandemic. Such initiatives may take varied forms and may emerge from government bodies, the private sector or civic organizations, but all successful initiatives actively involve the communities they serve. Thinking through the various dimensions of urban inclusion can help cities devise approaches relevant to their context, such as:

  • Spatial inclusion involves land use planning and urban and transport design that enhance safety and accessibility for all urban residents, regardless of where they live.
  • Digital inclusion involves reliable access to the internet, affordable devices and digital skills training, and has become vital for accessing services, education and employment, especially during crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Social and institutional inclusion involves removing barriers to participation by vulnerable groups in the economic, educational, political and cultural life of their cities, and ensuring that representatives of these groups occupy positions of leadership and influence.
  • Economic inclusion involves providing access to jobs, training and banking through targeted programmes and services.

To ensure urban inclusion, cities must have sound, sustainable municipal finance systems in place. This requires making intergovernmental fiscal transfers more transparent and predictable, and strengthening local revenue collection, including through land value capture, taxation and service fees, as locally appropriate.

Leadership across the public and private sectors is essential to urban inclusion. Leaders must be willing to listen to and learn from local residents, and “crowd in” resources from all available sources.

This report, co-written by experts from international organizations, private corporations, government bodies and academic institutions, makes the urgent case for greater urban inclusion, and aims to provide guidance and inspiration for cities on how to achieve it.

Access the full report here:

or download the attached PDF of the report.