UN-Habitat Flagship Report


Cities hold the key to the global recovery


The World Cities Report 2020, released by UN-Habitat on 31 October 2020, shows that the intrinsic value of sustainable urbanization can and should be harnessed for the wellbeing of all.

The Report provides evidence and policy analysis of the value of urbanization from an economic, social and environmental perspective, including the unquantifiable value that gives cities their unique character; and also explores the role of innovation and technology, local governments, targeted investments and the effective implementation of the New Urban Agenda in fostering the value of sustainable urbanization.

Cities have been at the epicentre of the COVID-19 outbreak with 95 per cent of cases found in urban areas.


With appropriate policies and supportive frameworks, resilient cities with improved housing and infrastructure can bounce back from the devastating impacts of disasters, including pandemics

UN Secretary-General, António Guterres in his foreword to the Report.


The world continues to urbanize: It is too soon to know if the pandemic experience of 2020 will lead to lasting demographic changes, but the long-term prospects continue to predict that the world will further urbanize over the next decade, from 56.2 per cent of the global population today to 60.4 per cent by 2030.

UNH world cities report photo.png


The Report, on the theme “The Value of Sustainable Urbanization”, analyses the intrinsic value of cities in generating economic prosperity, mitigating environmental degradation, reducing social inequality and building stronger institutions. It shows how together these can drive transformative change.

“The World Cities Report 2020 convincingly affirms that well-planned, managed, and financed cities and towns create economic, social, environmental and other unquantifiable value that can vastly improve the quality of life of all,” said the UN-Habitat Executive Director, Maimunah Mohd Sharif.


Urbanization can be leveraged for the fight against poverty, inequality, unemployment, climate change and other pressing global challenges.

UN-Habitat Executive Director, Maimunah Mohd Sharif.


According to the Report, the value of sustainable urbanization can be unlocked once various planning, finance and governance conditions are in place. It calls on national governments to create an environment that empowers local governments to raise revenue, regulate land use, plan for urban growth, limit urban sprawl and relieve overcrowded housing. In turn, the Report says, says local governments should collect revenue to improve municipal services and public spaces.

The Report emphasizes the role of the New Urban Agenda, the UN’s 20-year plan for sustainable urbanization, as a local road map to achieving the United Nations’ sustainability agenda, including the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.


Download the report 

UN-Habitat press release



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