City Prosperity Initiative
Cities have emerged as the focus for change and the venue where policies are realized. They have been able to forge new linkages among actors and offer innovative solutions, with the potential to be part of national agendas, and to influence regional and global development. However, poor planning, the absence of effective governance and legal frameworks, fragile institutions, low capacity of local authorities, and the lack of a sound monitoring mechanism, diminishes the possibility to promote long-term sustainable urban development.
Data and metrics enable cities to make correct decisions on the best policies to adopt, and assist in tracking changes, whilst systematically documenting their performance at the outcome level. This is fundamental towards achieving higher levels of urban prosperity and sustainable urban development for all. Too often, existing city data is not adequately detailed, documented and harmonized, or worse, it simply is not available for a whole host of critical issues relating to urban growth and development. This obviously greatly impacts the quality of decision-making.
A tool to measure sustainable urban development
UN-Habitat’s City Prosperity Initiative (CPI) is a global initiative that enables city authorities, as well as local and national stakeholders, to identify opportunities and potential areas of intervention for their cities to become more prosperous. Its composite index made of six dimensions serves to define targets and goals that can support the formulation of evidence-based policies, including the definition of city-visions and long- term plans that are both ambitious and measurable.
The CPI is both a metric and a policy dialogue, which offers cities from developed and developing countries the possibility to create indicators and baseline information, often for the first time. It is also a global monitoring mechanism, adaptable to national and local levels that can provide a general framework that allows cities, countries, and the international community to measure progress and identify possible constraints.
A holistic approach to prosperity
Prosperity, as defined by UN-Habitat, is a social construct that materializes in the realm of human actions. It deliberately and conscientiously builds on the conditions prevailing in a city at any time, despite its size or location. This is a broader, wide-ranging notion that has to do with clear policies, and well-balanced, harmonious development in a fair and just environment.
UN-Habitat conceptualized the notion of urban prosperity as being composed of the following: productivity; infrastructure; quality of life; equity and inclusion; environmental sustainability, and governance and legislation. The CPI is based on the fundamental principles of human rights. It considers that urbanization, as a process, should adhere to human rights principles, while the city, as an outcome, should meet specific human rights standards that need to be measured.
In this sense, access to adequate housing, water and sanitation or any other civic, cultural, economic, political and social right that are codified in many of the human rights treaties, are integral parts of the CPI indicators and metrics.