The quality of urban places in cities is typically not the product of a single intervention but results from the accumulation over time of a complex combination of factors, behaviours, and decisions form multiple stakeholders. Urban MAESTRO looks at the ways European cities are being designed and financed, focusing on innovative ways of generating and implementing urban spatial quality. Urban MAESTRO will focus on the "soft power" modalities of urban design governance and those approaches where public authorities act in a semi-formal or informal capacity as enablers or brokers rather than through regulatory or direct investment powers.

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.

The prioritisation of human rights addresses the structural causes of inequalities and discrimination in an integrated manner. Urbanisation can only be sustainable if it is human rights based, and living conditions can only be improved for all if everyone’s human rights are comprehensively promoted and protected. UN-Habitat applies the Human-Rights Based Approach to address inequalities and discrimination, reaching the furthest behind first by placing power relationships in human settlements at the heart of its analysis and action.

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Urban MAESTRO recognises that looking at gender issues in urban planning and design is central to success in economic regeneration and social inclusion.  In its exercise to explore and share the innovative use of design governance mechanisms in Europe, the project will seek to identify the differentiated gender impact of the various tools that will be analysed, documented and promoted.

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Youth, children and older persons, especially those in situations of particular risk of marginalization, such as girl child and female-headed households, are often excluded from access to housing, urban basic services, public spaces and infrastructure, and the overall benefits of urbanization. Young women and men have been a key focus of UN-Habitat’s work. The agency has successfully advocated for the role of youth as leaders in sustainable urban development, recognizing the guiding principle of the SDGs of “leaving no one behind,” and the New Urban Agenda vision of cities for all. 

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Sustainable urban development can only be achieved if persons with disabilities are included meaningfully in decision-making and are able to access their rights. UN-Habitat partners with representative groups and individual rights holders, as well as national and local governments, relevant UN bodies and civil society to maximize impact and to meaningfully ensure that the rights including accessibility and universal design of persons with disabilities are promoted, respected and protected. 

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Donors and partners

The project is conducted by a coalition of partners that combines the convening power of the United Nations, the academic leadership of the University College London and the practical experience and network of Brussels Chief Architect.  It benefits from the European Commission support and is further amplified by the Joint Programming Initiative JPI Urban Europe.

Our Experts

Frédéric Saliez
Office for Europe and European Institutions
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