About Us

Valuing what matters

In a rapidly evolving world, the definition of what constitutes a 'good life' is evolving alongside unprecedented challenges and opportunities. The Quality of Life Initiative formed in 2023 and led by UN-Habitat, is a critical response to this shift.

Cities and communities have demonstrated that they can drive meaningful progress on social, economic, and environmental fronts. Local decision makers play a crucial role, and require reliable data, information and insights into what their citizens value most, considering the local context and lived experience of everyone.

The mission of the Quality of Life Initiative is clear: empower local leaders with actionable knowledge and cutting-edge tools to enhance the quality of life in their communities. Through innovative data and monitoring solutions, the Initiative aims to bridge the information gap, offering a comprehensive view of quality of life in diverse contexts.

An Innovative Measuring Tool

At the heart of the Initiative lies the development of an innovative, globally relevant and locally applicable measuring tool. This tool serves as a compass, guiding cities to evaluate and accelerate progress on both local and global policy agendas aimed at improving the quality of life.

Defining Quality of Life

The concept of quality of life has been pondered for over two millennia, going back to Aristotle  who mused about the ‘blessings of life’. Its meaning has evolved from purely philosophical across many phases and interpretations to find itself today on the political agenda. Decision-makers, practitioners and citizens consider, interpret and integrate ‘quality of life’ in different disciplines with very diverse interests.

Quality of life is a complex, multidimensional concept that cannot be shaped by one definition. And yet, it is useful to understand how this versatile idea has been interpreted across important global agendas: 

For the World Health Organization, it relates to "the determination to enjoy the best possible health and quality of life".

For UNAIDS, the ambition to "have quality of life for the people living with HIV".

To UNESCO, the premise that "education plays a significant role in promoting quality of life in the short and long term".

For the International Labor Organization, the motto "good jobs, good quality of life".

UN-Habitat's Strategic Plan (2020-2025) envisions "A better quality of life for all in an urbanizing world," setting the stage for action. The Quality of Life Initiative takes a non-prescriptive approach, acknowledging the individually defined, culturally variable nature of quality of life, emphasizing satisfaction, well-being, and personal values.


Integrating what matters to people 

Unlocking a deeper understanding of individuals' true priorities goes beyond conventional metrics. The Quality of Life Initiative ventures into the realm of both objective and subjective factors that shape people's values, impact their daily lives, and ultimately contribute to their satisfaction. Local leaders can gain valuable insights into what truly matters to their communities, enabling them to make informed decisions that enhance opportunities and choices for everyone involved. 

Establishing new global standards for local change 

The Initiative aims to provide local governments with a tool that will help them assess their own performance and progress, supporting the localization of global agendas, rather than adopting a one-size-fits-all approach. The Quality of Life Initiative emphasizes the importance of understanding local contexts in order to tailor urban policies and planning.  

Actionable insights for change 

Embracing a data-driven approach, the Initiative strives to bridge gaps in crucial drivers of sustainable development and bolster cities' capabilities in data collection and analysis. Pioneering advances in data collection, organization, and visualization, the Initiative seeks to redefine conventional methods. By enhancing the connections between performance measurement, decision-making processes, and the overall wellbeing of communities, the Initiative aims to create a more informed and impactful framework for driving positive change. 

Testing and co-creation with cities

The innovative measuring tool built by the Quality of Life Initiative is taking shape through a collaborative and inclusive process. Governments, partners, and development actors have been invited to participate, fostering a meaningful and diverse range of contributions. Following this consultative phase, the measuring tool will undergo rigorous field testing and validation across cities in various regions. The ultimate goal is to craft a high-quality, user-friendly, and adaptable tool that can be seamlessly implemented and scaled-up in cities worldwide, promoting widespread accessibility and effectiveness.