UN-Habitat, the United Nations Human Settlements Programme, is mandated by the UN General Assembly to promote socially and environmentally sustainable and resilient towns and cities. It is the focal point agency for all urbanization and human settlement matters within the UN system. UN-Habitat envisions well-planned, well-governed and efficient cities and towns, with adequate housing, infrastructure and universal access to employment and basic services such as water, energy, and sanitation.
Being the custodian agency in particular for SDG11 - the cities’ goal - of the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and the focal point to oversee the implementation of the New Urban Agenda, UN-Habitat has an existing mandate for global monitoring and supporting cities in preparing for a better urban future. Furthermore, UN-Habitat is supporting the urban implementation of the Sendai Framework and Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
The New Urban Agenda, aligned with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change, is an inclusive, action-oriented, and concise document intended to guide the next 20 years of sustainable and transformative urban development worldwide. It has a strong focus on the inclusion and participation of stakeholder groups, civil society, and grassroots organizations. Sub-national and local governments are supported as strategic and operational partners for implementation, along with national governments.
As our cities and towns grow at unprecedented rates, setting the social, political, cultural and environmental trends of the world, sustainable urbanization is one of the most pressing challenges for the global community in the 21st century. In 1950, one-third of the world’s population lived in cities. Just 50 years later, this proportion has risen to one-half and will continue to grow to two-thirds, or six billion people, by 2050. Cities are now home to half of humankind. They are the hub for much national production and consumption- economic processes that generate prosperity and opportunity. But they also create disease, crime, pollution and poverty. In many cities, especially in developing countries, slum dwellers number more than 50% of the population and have little or no access to shelter, water and sanitation. This is where UN-Habitat is mandated to make a difference for the better.
Global Future Cities Programme
The Global Future Cities Programme (GFCP) under the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office’s Prosperity Fund (UK FCDO) aims to deliver 30 targeted urban interventions in 19 cities across 10 countries to encourage sustainable development, increase prosperity whilst alleviating high levels of urban poverty. The programme will also create significant short and long-term business opportunities in growing markets forecast to be regional growth hubs. In addition, the programme will make a significant contribution to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and implementation of the New Urban Agenda (NUA).
The Global Future Cities Programme includes cities in Brazil, South Africa, Nigeria, Turkey, Myanmar, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.
The programme builds upon three integrated pillars, that collectively will address key barriers to prosperity, in selected cities:
Urban planning – technical assistance for spatial restructuring (city strategies, urban renewal, regeneration, master planning and planning frameworks)
Transportation – technical assistance to support cities to develop integrated multi-modal public transport systems
Resilience – technical assistance to develop strategies to address the impact of climate change (e.g. flooding) and ensure development is sustainable
The programme is delivered in two phases: a Strategic Development Phase, followed by an Implementation Phase.
Strategic Development Phase
The Strategic Development Phase of the GFCP was implemented by UN-Habitat’s as a lead executive agency from April to December 2018. This phase aimed at supporting the UK FCDO in the identification, further definition and validation of 30 urban interventions in the 19 cities part of the Programme. UN-Habitat’s contribution focused on supporting an improved definition of strategic and transformative projects that are implementable and which contribute to the city’s objectives, while at the same time ensuring an adequate level of city ownership and citizen engagement.
This resulted in the development of Terms of References (ToRs) for each of the 30 urban interventions, supported by 19 city context reports, eight thematic cluster papers, five policy papers and two normative reports, as input and basis for the Implementation Phase. The Strategic Development Phase contributed to demonstrating how each intervention could contribute to multiple SDGs and gave recommendations based on international practices, while aligning with city visions for development.
The Implementation Phase of the GFCP is operational from September 2019 to March 2022. During the Implementation Phase, the 30 urban interventions will be delivered also contributing to the positioning the GFCP in an international context and demonstrating the added value of bridging global and local development agendas through achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and implementing the New Urban Agenda.
While the UK FCDO, including the Country Programme Managers, are ultimately responsible for the delivery of the Global Future Cities Programme, the 30 urban interventions will be carried out in the form of Technical Assistance by private sector Delivery Partners with international and national presence, as well as expertise in cross-cutting issues, SDGs and the NUA.
The UK FCDO has requested UN-Habitat’s to support the Implementation Phase by providing strategic advice, knowledge management and quality recommendations on both Programme and local levels. A programme level capacity building component will be delivered with the support of an implementing partner, the United Kingdom Built Environment Advisory Group (UK BEAG). UN-Habitat’s main contribution will be to work a neutral actor, facilitating a process to make sure that interventions adequately incorporate principles for sustainable urbanization, that cities are capacitated to sustain the interventions in the long-run and that knowledge will be shared on local and global level.
Urban projects in Philippines
The Global Future Cities Programme in Philippines comprises five urban interventions in the cities of New Clark City and Cebu, as per described below:
New Clark City is a new town situated 2h away from Manila, that aims to become a model example of a sustainable and inclusive city. The main objective of the intervention proposed by the Global Future Cities Programme in NCC is to support this vision, through 3 interventions. First, the Programme will support the development of the design for the future central park of the new city showcasing a model of an inclusive, resilient and vibrant park. Second, through a housing strategy project for a specific project area the Programme aims to showcase mixed and integrated housing developments where the existing community of NCC can be integrated into the new city. Third, providing a strategy to build a Sustainability Unit within BCDA, which is the organization overlooking the new city’s development, will build capacity towards sustainable urbanization.
Cebu is one of the most important cities in the Philippines and has experienced recent economic and population growth. However, urbanization has not taken place in a sustainable way and there is a lack of strategic and data driven city planning in the city. To support the city in building capacity on this, the Programme implements two projects. First, a city development strategy will enhance strategic development in the city specially to meet the affordable housing demands that the city is experiencing. Second, a data framework will improve data management, governance and analysis in the city for data driven city planning.
Programme components: SDG Project Assessment Tool, Knowledge Management and Capacity Building
SDG Project Assessment Tool:
The ‘SDG Project Assessment Tool; Guidance for cities to develop interventions towards inclusive and sustainable urbanization’ (the Tool) will be applied to capacitate city authorities to conduct quality recommendations during the interventions’ development, and to enhance their ability for executing and sustaining the interventions beyond the Programme’s timeframe.
Throughout the Programme period, the SDG Project Assessment Tool will be applied at periodic ‘SDG Project Assessment Sessions’ in each city. The sessions will provide a qualitative assessment of deliverables submitted by the Delivery Partners against each Terms of Reference (ToR). The sessions will be participatory events between city authorities, delivery partners and the UK FCO. During the course of the Programme, it is expected that 4 to 6 assessment sessions will be conducted for each project.
A web-based platform has been created to facilitate the management of the knowledge captured and produced from the different activities of the Programme. The platform is envisioned as a tool for disseminating knowledge between the multiple partners and stakeholders of the Global Future Cities Programme, enabling knowledge exchange amongst them and particularly city-to-city learning. A public component of the platform aims to disseminate knowledge to the global audience.
Capacity Building Programme:
As part of the programme implementation, city authorities will be supported with strategic advice and capacity building through an integrated approach. Technical assistance of the Delivery Partners will be complemented with learning-by-doing capacity building activities, (i.e. embedded in SDG project assessment process) and with a programme level capacity building and training component. The methodology and the thematic of these activities will be developed by UN-Habitat together with the implementing partner (UK BEAG), while the organization and delivery of the specific events will be led by UK BEAG.