Why Does the World Need an Urban SDG?

Campaign for an Urban Sustainable Development Goal
In September 2013, the Sustainable Development Solutions Network launched the Campaign for an Urban Sustainable Development Goal (SDG), with the support of UN Habitat, UCLG, Cities Alliance, ICLEI, Metropolis, and Communitas Coalition for Sustainable Cities and Regions. We invite mayors, local governments, member states, the private sector, universities, foundations, and civil society to join us in this campaign!

What are Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?

The Millennium Declaration and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have successfully focused world attention and action on ending extreme poverty in all its forms and reducing gender inequality. The fifteen-year MDG period will be completed at the end of 2015. The Rio+20 Summit in June 2012 resolved to finish the job of ending extreme poverty and hunger as a matter of urgency. It also endeavored to place poverty reduction within the broader context of sustainable development.

Well-crafted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for the period 2015 to 2030 will help guide the public’s understanding of complex sustainable development challenges, inspire public and private action, promote integrated thinking, and foster accountability. The SDGs will be complementary to the tools of international law, such as global treaties and conventions, by providing a shared normative framework. Children everywhere should learn the SDGs to help them understand the challenges that they will confront as adults. The SDGs will also mobilize governments and the international system to strengthen measurement and monitoring for sustainable development.

The world has at its disposal the tools to end extreme poverty in all its forms and to address the sustainable development challenges. If the world mobilizes around a shared agenda for sustainable development and ambitious, time-bound Sustainable Development Goals, then rapid, positive change on the required scale is feasible thanks to rising incomes and unprecedented scientific and technological progress.

Why does the World Need an Urban Sustainable Development Goal?
A dedicated and stand-alone urban SDG will accomplish the following:

1. Educate and focus attention on urgent urban challenges and future opportunities: An urban SDG is needed to educate leaders and the public, and focus their attention on the urgent challenges and opportunities of sustainable urban development from 2015 to 2030, in order to improve the lives of slum dwellers, provide access to basic infrastructure services, protect local and regional ecosystems, and ensure resilience.

2. Mobilize and empower all urban actors around practical problem solving: The challenges and opportunities presented by urbanization are complex and context-specific. Success will require practical problem solving. An urban SDG is needed to mobilize all urban actors, including local authorities, mayors, urban NGOs and community organizations, universities, businesses, and national authorities to respond to the challenge and opportunity of global urbanization.

3. Address the specific challenges of urban poverty and access to infrastructure: The characteristics of urban poverty differ in several ways from rural poverty. While $1.25 per day may be a good definition of extreme poverty in largely rural areas, this threshold is often too low in cities. A dedicated urban SDG is needed to sharpen the focus on better ways to address urban poverty, access to infrastructure and basic services, housing and security of tenure, and the institutional arrangements needed to fund, implement, and track progress in meeting these objectives.

4. Promote integrated and innovative infrastructure design and service delivery: The challenges faced by cities are interconnected and must be dealt with in an integrated manner. Innovative infrastructure design, modern technology solutions, and smart systems offer tremendous opportunities, which can only be seized through integrated infrastructure planning processes. A dedicated urban SDG is needed to promote integration at the city level where it must occur.

5. Promote land use planning and efficient spatial concentration: Good spatial planning can minimize urban land use footprints and increase the efficiency of service provision. Well-planned, mixed-use, and compact cities generally offer higher levels of well-being at lower levels of resource use and emissions. An urban SDG will promote effective and integrated management of cities.

6. Ensure resilience to climate change and disaster risk reduction: Cities are responsible for the majority of global greenhouse gas emissions, as well as being particularly vulnerable to temperature rise, flooding, rising sea levels, and extreme weather events. Integrating resilience planning and disaster risk reduction into city management and infrastructure design requires site-specific strategies and city-level targets that are best promoted through an urban SDG.

Read the full document “Why the World Needs an Urban Sustainable Development Goal”

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