Collaboration between national statistics offices, city authorities, research institutions, civil society organizations and communities offer the best combination of actors for effective and efficient urban monitoring. In addition, all urban monitoring efforts should be directly aligned with decision making processes, so as to ensure development decisions are based on the prevailing local needs as informed by data. These are the key messages from the just concluded specialized workshop titled “Monitoring and reporting on human settlement indicators in Latin America”, which was held in Bogota, Colombia between 26 – 28 March 2019. This workshop was organized as part of UN-Habitat and CEPAL’s collaboration to build capacities of countries in Latin America for SDG 11 and other urban SDGs monitoring.

Throughout the three-day workshop, senior representatives from the cities of Medellin and Bucaramanga, based on their local experience echoed UN-Habitat’s position on the importance of urban data for sustainable development; as well as the need for all actors to look at data as an input to city level actions, as opposed to an end by itself. Both cities have well-established systems of urban monitoring, consisting of more than 150 indicators that are regularly measured at the city level.

The workshop attracted more than 35 participants from the cities of Medellin and Bucaramanga, the Colombian National Statistics Office (DANE) as well as representatives from universities, think tanks and research centers in Colombia. Its main outcome was increased understanding by participants of the significance of urban monitoring to attainment of the 2030 agenda on sustainable development, sharing of technical knowledge on computation of various urban SDGs indicators, as well as introduction to important tools for data collection and decision making including the City Prosperity Index (CPI), the urban observatories model and the National Sample of Cities approach. In addition, both DANE and the municipalities shared their ongoing monitoring initiatives, which were identified to be both complimentary and overlapping. Based on this, discussions were held on how to streamline and harmonize the ongoing efforts, with the long-term benefit of production of accurate, up to date data that is relevant locally and which can be used for global reporting.

UN-Habitat will continue to support the two pilot cities in Colombia to generate SDG 11 and other urban relevant data, produce analytical CPI reports for each city depicting urban performance and required diagnostics, as well as promote the use of such data for informed decision making. This support will feed into the already ongoing local monitoring initiatives and will involve both the municipalities and DANE. Ultimately, the acquired skills from DANE and the two cities will effectively be applied to support local monitoring and decision-making processes in the more than 1,100 cities and urban areas in Colombia.

The training report and presentations from the workshops are available HERE