Implementing a Vision for Sustainable, Inclusive Cities

The years 2015-2016 were unprecedented for the acknowledgment of cities and urban sustainability as a driver for human development.

UN member states reached six global agreements with relevance to urban sustainable development issues: the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Agreement on climate action, the World Humanitarian Summit, and the New Urban Agenda (NUA). 

With its 17 SDGS and 169 targets, the 2030 Agenda is the most visionary. It has a clear framework for tackling the economic, social and environmental aspects of sustainable development. The New Urban Agenda provides the global principles, policies and standards needed for sustainable urban development for the next 20 years.

While all six agreements recognise the importance of local and regional governments in implementation, it is unclear how much government bodies operating at the sub-national level are responsible for achieving the commitments.


The Cities Alliance Joint Work Programme

This Cities Alliance Joint Work Programme (JWP) explores the urban dimension of the different global agreements, especially the 2030 Agenda and New Urban Agenda. It focuses on an integrated implementation and follow-up and review for these agendas, both in and with cities and through multi-stakeholder partnerships. 


Focus Areas

1. Advocacy and awareness-raising

The JWP advocates for the recognition of cities and urban sustainability as development drivers, as well as a stronger engagement of sub-national governments and local actors into ongoing intergovernmental processes.

It champions multi-level governance and inclusive partnerships as critical approaches to achieve inclusive urban development.

Key messages:

The vital enablers for cities to drive their own transformation include:

  • Cities with clearly defined autonomy, authorities and resources
  • Functioning, transparent and efficient land markets, as well as the integration of informal structures into a city’s economy; and
  • Promoting respect for the principles of human rights and citizenship, especially for those living in informality.

2. Integrated localisation of the global agendas

SDG11 recognises the importance of cities for sustainable development, along with other SDGs with urban dimensions. Because the current agreements relevant to cities are so wide-ranging, however, overwhelmed local and national decision makers tend to perceive them as an extra burden.

The JWP:

  • Promotes an integrated approach to the global agendas while considering the different capacities and resources of cities
  • Fosters efforts around how the agendas relate and connect to each other in cities 
  • Serves as a platform for exchanging effective ways to integrate these agreements at the national and local levels to promote sustainable and equitable cities, which in turn allows sub-national governments to better identify their priorities in consultation with local actors

3. Promoting National Urban Policies

Cities Alliance plays a leading role at the national and the global level in supporting the development and implementation of National Urban Policies (NUPs).

These policies improve the environment for steering sustainable and equitable urbanisation and serve as platforms for the integrated implementation of the SDGs and the NUA.

4. Follow-up and review for the implementation process

There is a window of opportunity for sub-national governments and local actors to engage in the follow-up and review processes of the different global agendas, such as through reporting at the UN High-Level Political Forum on the SDGs or the NUA Quadrennial Report.

The JWP:

  • Initiates discussions on how the different follow-up and review mechanisms and processes can fit together and feed into each other
  • Advocates for involving sub-national governments and local urban stakeholders to track implementation progress and to ensure accountability, transparency and inclusiveness
  • Focuses on assessing the capacities needed at all levels to participate in the follow-up and review, especially fostering qualitative approaches to monitoring, metrics and community-driven data


Building on Successful Advocacy for the SDGs and New Urban Agenda

This JWP builds on a previous one (2014-2016) that supported the successful global advocacy movement to include SDG11 in the 2030 Agenda and to recognise the importance of the local level in the NUA.

Members agreed to build on the unique platform the JWP had created and undertake a second phase as cities, regions and countries turn to the implementation of the global agendas. This second phase kicked off in January 2017.




JWP Home

JWP Outputs

JWP Events


Phase I














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