The challenge

UN-Habitat’s research shows that well-functioning cities have around 50% of the surface area dedicated to public space. Unfortunately, few cities around the world meet this target. Lack of quality public spaces reduces urban quality of life, increasing crime, social tensions, health and congestion. Public space provides leverage to optimize urban performance – build safer and cohesive communities, reduce spatial inequalities, build local economies and bring nature back to the city.

Learn more about the impact of the Global Public Space Programme.


small public spaces successfully upgraded in collaboration with communities and local governments.
1.82 million
people enjoy safe access to more than 104 public spaces designed and upgraded through UN-Habitat’s global public space programme in 75 cities,
More than
people enjoyed safe and inclusive access to 40 public spaces upgraded in 12 countries through the Global Programme on Public Space.

News and Stories

Highlighted publications

Tools and Guidelines
The Block by Block Playbook: Using Minecraft as a participatory design tool in urban design and governance
Tools and Guidelines
Mixed reality for public participation in urban and public space design - Towards a new way of crowdsourcing more inclusive smart cities
Tools and Guidelines
Global Public Space Toolkit: From Global Principles to Local Policies and Practice
Tools and Guidelines
City-wide public space assessment toolkit: A guide to community-led digital inventory and assessment of public spaces
Tools and Guidelines
Public Space Site-Specific Assessment: Guidelines to Achieve Quality Public Spaces at Neighbourhood Level
Tools and Guidelines
Placemaking Toolkit: Designing People Places - A toolkit for communities and designers to design and implement public spaces and buildings in Palestine

Donors and partners

As part of our public space work, we work with a wide range of partners – including local and national governments, civil society academia and the private sector. The UN-Habitat public space network includes more than 100 organizations that regularly meet to bring the public agenda forward. Our public space regeneration projects – so far in 35 countries - are usually implemented through a collaboration between UN-Habitat, the local government and a civil society organization, but in some cases also with other UN agencies, for example with UNICEF in Mozambique and with UN Women in Tunisia.  Since 2016 we have organized regular meetings of the United Nations Public Space network.

Our Experts

Cecilia Andersson
Programme Manager, Planning, Finance and Economy Section
Urban Practices Branch, Global Solutions Division