At the six-year mark of the New Urban Agenda, governments will assess implementation during a one-day high-level meeting on 28 April 2022, in New York.
At a briefing ahead of the meeting, UN Member States called for renewed attention to the New Urban Agenda and noted its increasing importance.
They said it provides a road map to a number of SDG goals and targets, sets the tone for implementation of Our Common Agenda, and is even more urgent amid post-COVID recovery.
UN Member States called for renewed attention to the New Urban Agenda and noted its increasing importance during a briefing on an upcoming high-level meeting to assess progress on urban sustainability.
In 2016, the UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) produced the New Urban Agenda. At the six-year mark of this Agenda, governments will assess implementation during a one-day high-level meeting, which was mandated by the UN General Assembly in December 2020 (resolution 75/224).
As the world’s urban population grows, cities’ progress will determine the rate of SDG progress overall.
In that resolution the Assembly requests the UNGA President to convene the meeting in New York in collaboration with UN-Habitat. It says discussions should take into account a forthcoming quadrennial report of the Secretary-General on progress in the implementation of the New Urban Agenda.
The resolution also calls for the UN’s five regional fora on sustainable development to provide inputs to the meeting. The regional fora are expected to take place in March 2022.
Shahid said currently 55% of the world’s population lives in urban areas, and this is expected to rise to 70% by 2050. Strengthening urban institutions to face challenges must be part of a resilient vision for our cities, and the New Urban Agenda “offers us a roadmap to more sustainable, resilient cities.”
UN-Habitat Executive Director Maimunah Mohd Sharif said UN-Habitat is working with Member States, UN entities, and various constituencies to prepare the Secretary-General’s quadrennial report. She said a preliminary version will be released in January 2022, followed by translated versions in February 2022.
Sharif added that:
- UN-Habitat will support inputs from the regional fora into the high-level meeting;
- Stakeholders will be invited to organize events during the week of the high-level meeting; and
- The high-level meeting should produce a political outcome stressing that the New Urban Agenda offers governments an opportunity to accelerate achievement of the SDGs and Paris Agreement.
Several government delegations then provided suggestions on the format, themes, and outcome of the high-level meeting. Some noted that its outcome will inform subsequent meetings and processes, such as the 11th World Urban Forum taking place in Katowice, Poland in June 2022, the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) session in New York, US in July 2022, and the World Cities Summit convening in Singapore in July/August 2022.
On the importance of the high-level meeting, delegations identified needs beyond assessing progress.
- Slovakia said the high-level meeting should be used both to increase the visibility of the New Urban Agenda, which has “slowly slipped out of our sight,” and to rethink it. She added that the New Urban Agenda provides a road map to a number of SDG goals and targets, and sets the tone for implementation of Our Common Agenda.
- Kenya said the New Urban Agenda is even more urgent amid post-COVID recovery, and the meeting is a chance to find ways to revitalize it.
- Russian Federation said that the New Urban Agenda is often omitted from discussions on sustainable development and the high-level meeting should serve as a “booster” for urban component. He said SDG achievement is largely driven by local context, so as the world’s urban population grows, cities’ progress will determine the rate of progress overall.
On potential themes for the high-level meeting, Singapore suggested ‘cities as resilient communities.’ Specific topics could include urban governance, sustainable environment, transport and mobility, housing, and digital technologies. Kenya said the meeting could aim to: build on linkages between sustainable urban development and other SDGs; address poverty and inequality; contribute to economic transformation; and focus on the urban component of climate action and preventing and recovering from crises.
On the meeting outcome, delegations said it should be action-oriented. Slovakia also said it should generate support and momentum for implementing the New Urban Agenda on a global scale. Malaysia said that if the outcome will be a negotiated one, Member States will need ample time to deliberate.
On preparations, Singapore and Kenya noted a role for the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in building momentum towards the meeting and facilitating discussions on implementation of the New Urban Agenda. Slovakia called for an inclusive preparatory process.
Kenya, Russian Federation, and Malaysia welcomed the participation of local governments and other stakeholders in the meeting. Malaysia added, however, that Member States will need enough time to speak during the one-day meeting.
The UNGA President announced during the meeting that he will convene an Advisory Committee on Sustainable Urbanization to support preparations for the high-level meeting. [Meeting recording]