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Mandated by the UN General Assembly in 1978 to address the issues of sustainable urban development, UN-Habitat promotes urbanization as a positive transformative force for people and communities through normative work, advocacy and technical assistance. Given its mandate, UN Habitat is the UN entity which has naturally considered local authorities as its closest partners. Headquartered in Nairobi, with a network of regional offices, UN-Habitat has revitalized its office in Geneva in 2019 and has since become one of the main partners of GCH, given its focus on urban actors and matters.

Given UN-Habitat’s mandate, all of its work is relevant when it comes to local authorities and urban matters. Below is only a very brief selection of UN-Habitat’s important contributions aiming at raising urban policy issues at the multilateral level.


Global Compendium of Practices on Local Economic and Financial recovery


UN-Habitat, in partnership with the UN regional economic commissions and others have published a Global Compendium of Practices on Local economic and Financial recovery.  The Global Compendium includes experiences and lessons from different cities on Covid-19 recovery. The provision of global practices gives cities across the globe an opportunity for peer-learning in developing and implementing their immediate response and recovery plans.


UN-Habitat 2020 Catalogue of services


UN-Habitat has developed a useful 2020 Catalogue of services to provide an overview of how UN-Habitat can support national and local governments, partners and stakeholders to address their development challenges and advance sustainable and inclusive urban development using UN-Habitat’s services, expertise and tools. This resource allows readers to quickly locate services that are most relevant for their context and priorities in areas such as urban planning, land, housing and shelter or basic services.


New Urban Agenda


Adopted at the UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) in Quito, Ecuador, in 2016, and subsequently endorsed by the UN General Assembly, the New Urban Agenda represents the shared vision of the international community for a better and more sustainable future – one in which all people have equal rights and access to the benefits that cities can offer. The New Urban Agenda gives clear guidance on how well-planned and well-managed urbanization can be a transformative force to accelerate towards the Sustainable Development Goals. UN-Habitat has created an Urban Agenda online platform gathering voluntary reports, best practices, and data for reviewing the progress made in implementing the New Urban Agenda to achieve the SDGs. This platform enables all stakeholders, including local authorities, to share their contributions to the implementation of the New Urban Agenda. It supports knowledge exchange, builds interaction and supports capacity development to establish communities of practice for sustainable urbanization development.


World Urban Forum


Organized and convened by UN-Habitat since 2001 on a biennial basis, the World Urban Forum (WUF) aims to address one of the most pressing issues facing the world today: rapid urbanization and its impact on communities, cities, economies, climate change and policies. The WUF, as a high level, open and inclusive platform, raises awareness, improves collective knowledge and promotes cooperation to advance sustainable urbanization. The 11th session of the WUF will take place in 2022, in Katowice, Poland.


2020 World Cities report


Every October, UN-Habitat and partners organize a month of activities, events and discussions on urban sustainability so that everyone can be part of the conversation about the challenges and opportunities created by the fast rate of urban change. Urban October starts with World Habitat Day and ends with World Cities Day. In 2020, the World Habitat Day was commemorated during SDG11 day and on World Cities Day, UN-Habitat, together with the Geneva Cities Hub and UNECE launched the 2020 World Cities Report in Geneva. The report focused on the value of sustainable urbanization and reaffirmed that cities were at the heart of the trajectory leading that leads to sustainable development and that delivering the New Urban Agenda must be a global priority.


UN-Habitat’s Strategic Plan 2020-2023


In UN-Habitat’s Strategic Plan 2020-2023, UN-Habitat calls for a new vision of “a better quality of life for all in an urbanizing world”. This vision is encapsulated in the Strategic Plan’s 4 domains of change namely:

    • Reduced spatial inequality and poverty in communities across the urban – rural continuum;
    • Enhanced shared prosperity of cities and regions;
    • Strengthened climate action and improved urban environment;
    • Effective urban crisis prevention and response.


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June 6, 2023