See how Cities Alliance contributes to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals through its Global and Country Programmes.


The years 2015-2016 were unprecedented for the acknowledgment of cities and urban sustainability as a driver for human development. Almost all global agreements finalised during these years recognised the relevance of local actors, especially the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

With its 17 SDGS and 169 targets, the 2030 Agenda is the most visionary, with a clear framework for tackling the economic, social and environmental aspects of sustainable development.

As the global partnership for urban poverty reduction and the promotion of the role of cities in sustainable development, Cities Alliance is well positioned to help move the agenda forward. The partnership supported the implementation of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) from the very beginning; the first action of the newly created Cities Alliance in 1999 was to establish the Cities Without Slums Action Plan, which contributed to the first global target to focus on urban poverty (MDG Target 11).

During the transition from the MDGs to the SDGs, Cities Alliance supported the successful global advocacy movement to include a standalone goal for cities (SDG11) in the 2030 Agenda. The campaign also called for the urban dimension to be anchored as a cross-cutting issue in other goals, such as poverty eradication, gender equality and women’s empowerment, reducing inequality, climate action, and promoting equitable economic growth.


A focus on secondary cities

The success of the global agendas will rely substantially on the capacities of secondary cities, where the bulk of the urban transformation is taking place. As such, Cities Alliance’s primary focus is on the reduction of urban poverty in the small and medium-sized cities that are instrumental to economic and social progress in almost all countries.


A clear strategy for support 

In its current Strategic Plan (2018-21), Cities Alliance strongly supports ten SDGs and 55 targets. The plan culminates with a clear commitment: to improve the lives of 20 million of the world’s urban poor and empower women in more than 60 cities across seven or more countries by 2021 as part of global efforts to implement the SDGs.

Informal settlements are where much of the challenge to meet the global agreements’ goals and commitments is concentrated, and the leave-no-one-behind principle will be tested. To achieve this, Cities Alliance concentrates its interventions around three key enablers for cities to drive their own development:

  --  Governance: Cities with clearly defined autonomy, authorities and resources;

  --  Markets: Functioning, transparent and efficient land markets, as well as the integration of informal structures into a city’s economy; and

  --  Rights: Promoting respect for the principles of human rights and citizenship, especially for those living in informality.


In addition to these, Cities Alliance believes that enabling national policies, strong institutions, well-resourced and accountable local governments, and informed and engaged citizens are essential for local and national prosperity.

Learn more about how Cities Alliance contributes to the implementation of the SDGs through its Global and Country Programmes in this brochure.

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