A global partnership platform to promote dialogue, sharing,
and learning about how to improve our urban future.

Post-2015: Campaigning for an Urban SDG

“It must… be recognized that cities are home to extreme deprivation and environmental degradation with one billion people living in slums. In many countries the number of slum dwellers has increased significantly in recent years, and urban inequality is deepening.

Sound urban development will accelerate progress towards achieving SDGs, including the end of extreme poverty.

On the other hand, mistakes made in managing urban growth are very hard to undo. Infrastructure investments, urban land-use systems, and layouts are literally cast in stone – with impacts that may be difficult to alter for many decades.”

-Why the World Needs an Urban Sustainable Development Goal, Sustainable Development Solutions Network, 18 September 2013


What are the Sustainable Development Goals?

How is the World Urban Campaign Contributing?

Why do we need an urban SDG?

What can you do?


Together towards an urban SDG

What are the Sustainable Development Goals?

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) upon their expiration in 2015. The SDGs will therefore shape the Post-2015 Development Agenda. While United Nations Member States are formally leading the development of this agenda, the UN system — including UN-Habitat — and many nongovernmental stakeholders are also playing a significant role.

How is the World Urban Campaign Contributing?

The Secretary-General has tasked UN-Habitat to lead a new Executive Committee on Sustainable Urbanization (EC-SU) and UN-Habitat’s Executive Director, Dr. Joan Clos, to be the Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, Habitat III, to take place in 2016.  With its Secretariat within UN-Habitat, the World Urban Campaign partners are well-positioned to work with UN-Habitat to represent nongovernmental stakeholders in the Post-2015 process.

The World Urban Campaign is a partners’ platform that allows partners to collaborate on and influence the Post-2015 Development Agenda. The World Urban Campaign partners are campaigning for a special urban SDG.

The World Urban Campaign is guided by seven key principles:

  1. Accessible and pro-poor land, infrastructure, services, mobility and housing;
  2. Socially inclusive, gender sensitive, healthy and safe development;
  3. Environmentally sound and carbon-efficient built environment;
  4. Participatory planning and decision making;
  5. Vibrant and competitive local economies promoting decent work and livelihoods;
  6. Assurance of non-discrimination and equal rights to the city; and
  7. Empowering cities and communities to plan for and effectively manage adversity and change.

It is campaigning to ensure that these principles are incorporated into the SDGs through an urban goal that will assist national governments in creating positive and sustainable urban spaces.

Why do we need an urban SDG?

“Cities are where the battle for sustainable development will be won or lost”

-The Manifesto for Cities

World Urban Campaign partners are campaigning for an urban SDG because we live in an era of unprecedented urbanization. Cities are home the majority of humanity, and sustainable development cannot be achieved without significantly transforming the way we build and manage our urban spaces. Cities therefore must be given special attention and consideration in the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

By 2050, roughly 70 per cent of the world’s population is projected to live in urban areas.  This means that, between 2010 and 2050, there may be as many as 3 billion new urban dwellers.  Rapid urbanization is mainly occurring in South Asia, East Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa, in countries least able to cope with the increasing demand for decent jobs, adequate housing, and urban basic services.  The majority of extreme poverty is concentrated in urban spaces, and national and city governments alike are struggling to accommodate the rising population in these areas. The number of slum dwellers has swollen to nearly one billion people – or 33% of the urban population in developing countries — many of whom live in dangerous and degrading conditions. The growth of slums is entrenching urban inequality, thus contributing to higher crime rates, social exclusion, and political instability.

Poor urban planning is extremely difficult to fix, making it vital that nations and cities around the world properly plan urban spaces in the face of this rapid expansion.

60% of the built environment required to accommodate the earth’s urban population by 2050 remains to be built. For most, higher fuel prices, climate change, and limited access to clean, fresh water will present a major challenge to urban growth.  At the same time, these challenges constitute an opportunity to demonstrate that growth can occur without environmental degradation. This goal, to develop cities in well-planned and environmentally responsible ways, is the essence of sustainable urban development.

When sensitively planned and appropriately supported by sustainable infrastructure, compact cities constitute the world’s most efficient settlement pattern.  Densification reduces the spatial footprint and makes shared infrastructure viable.  These in turn reduce emissions and resource use.  Compact cities also allow new technologies to be tested and implemented more competitively.  Over the long term, cities can strengthen resilience by reducing dependence on carbon intensive growth, stimulating efficiency in resource use, and expanding skills for work in a green economy.

The Sustainable Development Goals will shape the development agenda around the world. An urban SDG must promote green, well-planned, resilient, inclusive, productive, safe, and healthy cities for all.  Together, the World Urban Campaign partners are campaigning to ensure that the future of cities — the future of humanity – is not left out.

What can you do?

Join us by campaigning for an urban SDG to ensure that our urban spaces take priority in the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

If you belong to an organization, you can join the World Urban Campaign as a Lead Partner or Sponsor to work with us in shaping this agenda.

As an individual, you can vote on your own Post-2015 priorities at www.myworld2015.org and write in urban goals.

Read the full document Why the World Needs an Urban Sustainable Development Goal by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, or read about UN-Habitat and the Post-2015 Development Agenda  and the Post-2015 Process.