New York, 28 April 2022 – United Nations General Assembly, UN entities, city officials and other partners took an action-oriented approach and expressed commitments to sustainable urbanization as a means of addressing current global challenges – health crisis, economic downturn, and ongoing conflicts, at one-day high-level meeting on the implementation of the New Urban Agenda at the UN in New York.

The high-level meeting was convened by the President of the UN General Assembly, in collaboration with the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) pursuant to General Assembly resolution 75/224 of December 2020, to assess progress in the implementation of the New Urban Agenda.

“The New Urban Agenda is the best tool we have to manage all the risks and opportunities for our vibrant and growing cities,” said President Abdulla Shahid in his opening remarks.

He also noted that “sustainable urbanization can drive change across a variety of interconnected issues including poverty eradication; climate action; migration; land degradation; economic prosperity; and creation of peaceful societies.”

UN-Habitat, as the custodian agency of the New Urban Agenda, will pursue four priorities to assist countries realize their commitments: affordable housing, climate action, localization of Sustainable Development Goals, and urban recovery in post-conflict and post-disaster situations.

“We need to build upon the collective energy of the Member States, local governments, professionals, grassroots, private business leaders, and my colleagues in the United Nations to help us achieve the Sustainable Development Goals through the implementation of the New Urban Agenda,” said Maimunah Mohd Sharif, Executive Director of UN-Habitat. “To do this, I can upon all Member States to strengthen multi-level governane and, most critically, to finance the implementation of the New Urban Agenda.”

Cities are facing unprecedented demographic, environmental, economic, social, and spatial challenges. Six out of every ten people in the world are expected to reside in urban areas by 2030, rising to nearly 68% by 2050. The COVID-19 pandemic only exacerbated the challenges that cities were already facing – from rising numbers of slum dwellers, worsening air pollution, limited open public spaces, and limited convenient access to public transport.

Sustainable urbanization and the New Urban Agenda are critical to address multiple crises and achieve progress towards Agenda 2030 and the national climate targets of the Paris Agreement. The New Urban Agenda was adopted at the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urbanisation (HABITAT III) in Quito in 2016 as an action-oriented document that sets global standards of achievement in sustainable urban development, rethinking the way we build, manage, and live, in cities. It offers countries a road map to achieve SDGs.

To date, only 32 Member States have submitted the New Urban Agenda reports although many more have held national urban forums and included aspects of the New Urban Agenda in their national planning.

As emerged out of discussions and deliberations at the high-level meeting of the UN General Assembly, upscaling engagement and implementation of the New Urban Agenda will require simplifying its contents, increasing knowledge of its workings, and prioritizing the key actions that have positive ripple effects across multiple global agendas. Funding mechanisms and multi-stakeholder coalitions are also needed to help Member States overcome technical, financing, and capacity gaps when implementing the New Urban Agenda.

In light of the urgency of addressing sustainable urbanization, it is expected that discussions from the high-level meeting will inform Member States’ engagement at other global meetings. The current actions and new commitments towards implementing the New Urban Agenda as expressed by Member State delegations and participating local and non-State actors will be discussed on 26-30 June 2022 at the upcoming Eleventh Session of the World Urban Forum in Katowice, Poland.

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