Smart Cities Mission, India: Localizing Sustainable Development Goals
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Smart Cities Mission, India: Localizing Sustainable Development Goals

In this report, the transformation of 100 cities across India as part of Smart Cities Mission (SCM) is examined through the lens of SDGs. The mission has reached the lives of more than 100 million urban dwellers in India. The 100 Smart Cities are representative of India’s urban geography. SCM offers a unique scale for SDG localization: the mission has undertaken over 7,800 projects across 100 cities since its inception in 2015 and directed an investment of over USD 22 billion. SDGs have remained an integral part of mission management and reporting since the early phase of SCM.

The three pillars of the mission—Liveability, Economic-ability, and Sustainability—are aligned with 15 out of the 17 SDGs. The three pillars of SCM are further divided into 21 distinct sub-sectors which are monitored using a set of indicators referred to as Output-Outcome Monitoring Framework (OOMF). The framework tracks transformation across 100 SCM cities through a set of 213 indicators, which also measure the SDG targets and indicators directly and indirectly. 213 OOMF indicators are mapped to 51 out of 169 targets across 15 SDGs. Six SDGs are selected for in-depth coverage in this report: 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 17. The report has adopted a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods for SDG localization. 

By 2050, more than 100 out of 135 countries in the Global South are expected to have over 50 per cent of their populations residing in urban areas. Given this rapid urbanization, the SCM serves as a valuable model for integrated urban transformation on a national scale, addressing infrastructure investment challenges in emerging urban spaces. Notably, 66 per cent of SCM cities have a population of less than one million, highlighting its relevance for smaller urban areas, and provide a significant opportunity for the intermediary Indian cities to follow suit for their development trajectory.

It emphasizes the importance of neighborhood-led planning, decentralized governance, and innovative financing models, and sets a successful precedent for comprehensive, integrated, inclusive, resilient, and digitally transformative process for urban development.

Overall, the SCM in India showcases the successful implementation of a national-scale urban mission that aligns comprehensively with global agendas and empowers cities to drive sustainable development. It serves as a living lab people-centric smart urbanization and offers valuable lessons for urban areas in the Global South.