Cities Alliance and its members host the session Building Sustainable Cities: Harnessing the potential of local communities to withstand crises at the upcoming United Nations High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). This in-person SDGs Learning, Training and Practice event is among the ten Special Events scheduled for the HLPF this year, co-organized by UNDESA and UNITAR.

The event will focus on how different institutions and their constituencies can partner to support cities in harnessing the potential of local communities – mainly the 1 billion urban poor living in informal settlements – to respond and adapt to crises in cities.

Home to more than 55 per cent of the world’s population – a percentage projected to swell to nearly 70 per cent by 2050  – cities are considered engines of economic growth, knowledge generation and innovation.

On the one hand, cities have the potential to propel sustainable development and promote equitable economic growth. On the other, cities are also at the frontline of multilayered crises including the recent Covid-19 pandemic; climate change and related impacts including food and water scarcity; migration and forced displacement, and conflict to cite but a few.

These multiple crises have not only exacerbated inequalities in cities; but also derailed progress towards achieving sustainable development goals; and, often, worsened pre-existing forms of exclusion. 

The aim is thus to share knowledge and practical examples on how the key to achieving SDG 11 (Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable) is to empower urban communities to respond to these multiple crises.  

The event will underscore the vital role of urban communities, focusing on communities from the Global South, in addressing and withstanding external shocks.

The strategies and tools that will be presented will emphasize participatory and inclusive decision-making and implementing approaches, placing urban communities at the centre of response, recovery and resilience-building efforts, to ensure that no one is left behind.

The session will highlight the critical role of organizations of the urban poor in leading response and recovery efforts with examples from cities in Africa, Asia and Latin America.


  • Greg Munro, Director, Cities Alliance
  • Christian Frutiger, Ambassador, Vice-Director General, Head of Thematic Cooperation, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation
  • Joseph Muturi, Chairperson, Slum Dwellers International (SDI)
  • Jenna Harvey, Focal Cities Coordinator (WIEGO)
  • Martin Delgado, Director of Urban Development of Montevideo, Uruguay, representing United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG)

Moderator: Laura Lima, Head of Programmes, Cities Alliance

The event will take place at UN HQ in NY, conference room 5.
Register here to attend in person. The event will also be broadcast live on UN Web TV

Event Flyer