FOREWARD | 3 December 2020
Cities are the locus of development, human creativity, and progress, being responsible for 80 percent of global GDP. As the world rapidly urbanizes, the relevance of cities cannot be overstated. Cities consume 80 percent of the worlds’ energy and produce more than 70 percent of the world’s GHG emissions, for instance, and will be key players to support a just and fair transition to a carbon-neutral economy.
The COVID-19 pandemic provides a stark reminder that more than ever cities are in the frontlines of the response and recovery, with initially over 90 percent of the confirmed cases happening in cities before spreading across whole territories. The pandemic is re-shaping urban life around the world.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) have a long history of partnership. To meet the challenges of the present and future, both our organizations have decided to enhance their collaboration to accelerate the implementation of the New Urban Agenda (NUA) adopted at Habitat III in 2016, the Paris Agreement, and the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) globally, in accordance with the UN system-wide strategy for sustainable urbanization. Furthermore, within the current global context, UNDP and UN-Habitat commit to ensuring their offer is aligned with the needs of countries and cities in their response to and recovery from COVID-19.
This enhanced Collaborative Framework informs the development of its Action Plan (2021–2022) with concrete actions per priority area, and a selected cohort of countries and cities for rolling out joint integrated support. During these two years of accelerated urban action, UNDP and UN-Habitat intend to demonstrate concrete results and make these available to the Member States at the High-Level Meeting on the review of the implementation of the New Urban Agenda to be convened by the President of the UN General Assembly in New York in September 2022 and to diverse stakeholders at the next session of the World Urban Forum to be held in Katowice (Poland) in 2022.
The COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in a time of unprecedented and unexpected changes. We must take the opportunity presented by the COVID-19 pandemic to “nudge” countries in the right direction towards the next generation of future-proof cities.
Now is the moment for governments, academia, civil society and the private sector to re-envision together how they might innovate a socio-economic system that is capable of responding to the demands of the 21st Century. This cannot happen without the direct engagement of cities.
As we build back better and greener, we need to rebalance the roles of the public and private sectors and ensure that no one and no place is left behind.
The pandemic started in cities because of their connectedness. This does not mean we should disconnect. Achieving cities that are healthy, inclusive, sustainable and resilient will require foresight, solidarity and commitment. Supporting national governments and equipping our cities, including local governments, societies, and business to leverage a green recovery and the digital transformation to deliver the next generation of cities will be central.
At this critical moment for humanity, UNDP and UN-Habitat have committed to working together to seize this tipping-point opportunity for the long-term public good for people and the planet.