Madrid, 12 August 2020- Over 100 urban experts from the United Nations system, academia, city leaders, private sector entities, international organizations,  national and local governments joined a three day virtual Expert Group Meeting (EGM) hosted by the Madrid City Council and UN-Habitat to discuss the development of a dynamic UN System-Wide Urban Monitoring Framework.

The EGM, which ran for three days at the end of July, aimed to build coherence and broad-based institutional ownership of the monitoring of the New Urban Agenda and the urban dimensions of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The meeting was also aligned with UN-Habitat’s SDG Cities Flagship Programme, which seeks to accelerate the realization of the SDGs by providing cities with monitoring and evaluation systems that define baselines and measurables and sequential objectives. 

As part of the efforts of the United Nations system to advance the measurement frameworks of the SDGs, the UN Chief Executive Board in its 36th session tasked UN-Habitat to lead the consultation process in the development of a UN System-Wide strategy on sustainable urban development. The resulting document of May 2019 recognised the need for a United Nations system-wide approach to urban data management, that would align protocols for data sharing at the global level.

In focused sessions of the EGM, representatives from Madrid, New York, Los Angeles, Durban, Helsinki, Mannheim, Qassim, Bogota and Buenos Aires detailed the specific monitoring needs and challenges of cities from different contexts. United Nations Agencies including UN Women, UNICEF, UNFPA, UNESCO, UNGSII and UNODC along with all UN Regional Economic Commissions shared information on urban data collection methods and the importance of inclusion of relevant dimensions in the framework.

Likewise, Citibanamex, CitiIQ, ThinkCity, and ITU explained existing methodologies of city data measurement frameworks to be integrated into the framework for greater cohesion and standardization.  In open discussions, participants explored the approaches to urban data management and aligning protocols for data sharing at the global level.

In the final discussions of the meeting, various organisations like the OECD, UNICEF and others announced their commitment and support for the ongoing process for the development of the Framework. There was a powerful pledge from Shanghai to fully support UN-Habitat and the SDG Cities Flagship Programme in carrying out joined-up research for the development of an Index and an Award which will recognize cities for their urban sustainable development practices, and to develop a Voluntary Local Review showcasing Shanghai’s advancement in the local implementation of the SDGs.

The meeting concluded with the agreement to arrange a  Joint Urban Monitoring Group to further develop and finalise the monitoring framework which will be submitted to the United Nations Statistical Commission for its consideration at the Commission’s 52nd session in March of 2021.

The development and adoption of a UN System-Wide Urban Monitoring Framework represents a significant step for the support to Local and Regional Governments and stakeholders in the elaboration of Voluntary Local Reviews (VLRs), further strengthening the links between the national and local monitoring and reporting processes for the implementation of the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development. Through an effort to provide coherence and continuity to the support to subnational monitoring processes, the results of this Expert Group Meeting (EGM) will feed into the wider work of UN-Habitat on VLRs and specifically into the discussion of an EGM dedicated to VLRs that UN-Habitat will host in December 2020 in collaboration with Madrid City Council.