The Urban LAB is an initiative from UN-Habitat to respond to the growing demand from cities to find transformative solutions to complex urban challenges. It drives innovative ideas, processes and partnerships to steer tangible and transformative urban solutions that contribute to sustainable urbanization, the achievement of the SDGs and the implementation of the NUA.

Established as an integrative facility, the LAB facilitates collaboration between a multidisciplinary set of partners, stakeholders and experts. It thereby integrates the necessary expertise to develop tangible, catalytic and transformative solutions to complex urban challenges in developed, developing and emerging countries. As an innovation LAB grounded in UN values, it supports cities and Member States to find new pathways for sustainable urbanization.

Taking a holistic and integrative approach, the LAB focuses on a diverse range of topics and themes including the identification of responses to rapid urbanization, urban renewal, urban extension; supporting cities to effectively integrate new technologies and innovation; developing guidelines for strategic planning; addressing the spatial dimension of climate change and resilience; and contributing to embedding the urban and development perspective within the humanitarian and urban crises field.

"I would like to take the occasion of the presentation of the guidelines for urban planning for the Republic of the Union of Myanmar to formally thank UN-Habitat for its support.The improvement of urban areas and the establishment of effective connections between cities and rural areas to increase rural standards of living, for which urban and regional planning will be critical, is a priority of the new Union Government."

Min Htein, Director General, Department of Urban and Housing Development, Ministry of Construction, Republic of the Union of Myanmar

Transformative Projects and Programmes have been developed and completed in
The LAB has worked with over
cities around the world
partners have been engaged including governments, private sector, multilateral banks and financiers, NGOs and many more

Related Sustainable Development Goals

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Leaving no one and no place behind

Hover over or click the icons to learn about UN-Habitat's work on social inclusion here.

Deeply rooted in UN values and following UN-Habitat’s mandate to achieve the SDGs and to implement the NUA, the LAB ensures that projects and programmes are designed and implemented to maximise impact and leave no one behind. This is safeguarded not only at a strategic and programme level but also at a technical level, ensuring the implementation of projects ultimately contributes to equal rights and opportunities, as well as greater accessibility for all.

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How women experience the city significantly shapes how they can lead their lives, yet their specific needs and preferences are often overlooked. Promoting equal representation in decision-making and allowing women to become agents of change by giving direct input during all phases of the project lifecycle, the LAB raises awareness and empowers women to shape the cities they live in.

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Analytic research of the demographic composition of countries and cities as well as direct engagement with different population groups, provides the LAB with a solid understanding of the needs and preferences of children, youth and the elderly. Planning charettes and workshops allow different target groups to collaborate at eye-level, improving the potential of urban solutions to cater for all populations.

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Through inclusive participatory processes and specific design principles, the LAB develops and implements projects and programmes that ensure accessibility for all. By accommodating the needs and preferences of persons with disabilities in the design of urban solutions, the LAB actively contributes towards more equal and inclusive cities.

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Donors and partners

The LAB develops tailored partnerships for the definition and implementation of multi-scalar projects and programmes. Through participatory approaches, the LAB facilitates integration across institutional departments, different levels of government and civil society. The LAB connects governments with a diverse range of partners relevant to the different phases of the project cycle to develop tangible, realistic and impactful projects and programmes. By linking multilateral banks and financiers to transformative and feasible projects, financing mechanisms are identified that support implementation. The active building of partnerships between different experts, professionals, knowledge and academic partners, allows the LAB to provide suitable, evidence-based technical assistance and support to governments.