Synthesis Report Previews “Urban Goal” for HLPF
Photo by IISD | Lynn Wagner
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The SDG 11 Synthesis Report presents “a joint position from the UN family” on critical issues related to urbanization.

The report complements the 2018 Secretary-General’s Progress Report on the SDGs, as well as the Secretary-General’s first quadrennial report on progress made in the implementation of the New Urban Agenda.

9 July 2018: The UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) and partner custodian agencies of the Sustainable Development Goal on cities and communities (SDG 11) unveiled a Synthesis Report outlining progress as well as challenges towards the “urban goal.” The SDG 11 Synthesis Report presents “a joint position from the UN family” on critical issues related to urbanization as a cross-cutting area, and provides insights for building effective partnerships to address the data collection and monitoring needs of all related indicators. The report informs the 2018 High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) thematic review.

Titled, ‘SDG 11 Synthesis Report: Tracking Progress Towards Inclusive, Safe, Resilient and Sustainable Cities and Human Settlements,’ the report complements the 2018 Secretary-General’s Progress Report on the SDGs, as well as the Secretary-General’s first quadrennial report on progress made in the implementation of the New Urban Agenda.

In her introduction to the report, UN-Habitat Executive Director Maimunah Mohd Sharif notes that in light of the close linkages among global challenges and opportunities for sustainable development, the report puts special emphasis on the “value-added of sustainable urbanization as an enabler for achieving global prosperity and sustainability.”

The report highlights progress towards sustainable urbanization targets such as affordable housing, basic services, public transport for all, reducing air pollution and expanding public spaces. The analysis draws on a number of voluntary national review reports prepared for the HLPF, and analyzes reports from a range of sources, including National Statistics Organizations, urban observatories and geospatial data from selected cities, non-governmental organizations, the private sector and academia.

An example of new data highlighted in the report is an analysis of urban transitions and trends in the first years of SDG implementation that finds, for instance, that more than 55% of households in sub-Saharan Africa spend more than 30% of their income on housing costs, amidst the growing number of people living in slum-like conditions. The report also notes the “dismal” level of participation of civil society in urban affairs, and gathers “compelling evidence” that cities are spatially expanding at a faster rate than that of population growth, raising various questions and impacts on urban related disasters, climate change, urban planning and policies.

To tackle some of the methodological challenges faced in monitoring progress on SDG 11, the report underscores the need to: reach agreement on a global definition for cities and urban areas; develop qualitative, quantitative and spatial analysis tools and approaches to ensure that no one is left behind; establish new partnerships at the local, sub-national, national and global levels to reinforce monitoring; and ensure effective reporting mechanisms.

The HLPF Review of SDG 11 takes place on 11 July 2018. Other events related to the sustainable urbanization agenda taking place on the sidelines of the HLPF include, inter alia: a capacity development workshop on monitoring implementation of urban SDGs and the New Urban Agenda; a multi-stakeholder panel on the transformation toward sustainable and resilient cities; effective implementation, monitoring and financing of Goal 11; the role of young people in building vibrant communities; and strengthening rural-urban linkages for inclusive and resilient societies and health ecosystems. A training event on practical tools to localize and implement SDG11 and the New Urban Agenda in cities in the developing world is also taking place, showcasing the ‘SHERPA’ application developed by UN-Habitat and One Planet.

SDG 11 is one of six goals under review at this year’s High-Level Political Forum (HLPF), taking place from 6-18 July 2018 at the UN Headquarters in New York, US. [UN-Habitat Press Release] [Publication: SDG 11 Synthesis Report] [SDG 11 Related Events at HLPF 2018]


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