Amman, 6 October 2022 -- With 2023 fast approaching and as the world tries to recover from an unpredictable pandemic amidst increasing socioeconomic vulnerabilities, there has never been a more crucial time to address the challenges of urbanisation—at the local, national, and international levels. One of the countries in which this cruciality has been especially evident is the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, a country facing intense systemic challenges that continue to hinder its sustainable future across its municipalities.

Addressing these challenges, experts in urbanisation must first assess the state of cities to create a roadmap to build their resilience and enhance their sustainability. The most critical element to this assessment is up-to-date information, data, and analyses of urban contexts and trends.

Within this context, supported by the by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), UN-Habitat has been implementing the “Inter-regional cooperation for the implementation of the New Urban Agenda” project with the aim of improving the capacities of selected countries and cities in the implementation, monitoring, and reporting of the NUA and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with strengthened inter-regional cooperation and knowledge sharing. Under this framework, UN-Habitat has developed the first progress report on the implementation of the New Urban Agenda in Jordan in collaboration with the Housing and Urban Development Cooperation, which provided key information on Jordan’s development against relevant indicators and recommendations for the effective implementation of the NUA.

Furthermore, as a centre for international cooperation, the city of Amman is crucial to the achievement of the SDGs in Jordan and the Arab region. In this vein, UN-Habitat, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for West Asia (UNECSWA) and the United Cities and Local Governments, Middle East and West Asia Section (UCLG-MEWA), in close cooperation with the Greater Amman Municipality, led the development of the first Voluntary Local Review (VLR) in the Arab region. The VLR discusses the city’s actions and performance against the selected SDG targets based on available data and analyses the consequent implications on policy and practice to improve Amman’s performance against SDGs.

As explained by Deema Abu Thiab, the National Programme Coordinator for the UN-Habitat Jordan Office, “this VLR represents the long-standing commitment of the Greater Amman Municipality and the United Nations to continuously work together towards the achievement of the 2030 Agenda and leave no one—and no place behind.”

The VLRs mechanism has become an essential tool for cities around the world in reporting and tracking SDGs progress. “We hope to continue to support the collection and analysis of data at the local level in order to achieve effective urban development that is adequate to the Arab region,” Erfan Ali, UN-Habitat Regional Representative for the Arab States, commented.

This VLR report has additionally been developed in parallel with the second Voluntary National Review (VNR) of Jordan, creating the opportunity to reinforce national-local policy coherence for sustainable development. Through these efforts and inter-agency collaboration, the 2022 High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) presented both the Jordan’s VNR and 1st VLR at the same time for the first time since the forum’s inception. By presenting this innovative joint effort, Jordan has been a pioneer in directing the world’s attention to the need to reinforce the national-local development dialogue.

As 2030 nears, the meaningful participation of the various stakeholders can redefine urbanisation as a driver for advancing the SDGs and NUA, whereby the growing human capital, sectors, diversity and investments can be leveraged to transform cities to be more sustainable and better perform against the 2030 Agenda and NUA.

As we look towards the future of cities, data collection and management will remain essential to the planning decision-making process and the sustainability of cities. In this regard, UN-Habitat, UNESCWA, and other key partners and stakeholders will continue to work together in the development of Voluntary Local Reviews across the Arab Region, always recognising that strong partnerships are the foundation on which the advancement of the 2030 Agenda and New Urban Agenda are enabled.