Cities are home to more than half of the global population and the partnership between the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) and the UN Office of Project Services (UNOPS) is intended to allow the two bodies to leverage each other’s areas of expertise. Target areas include resilient infrastructure, sustainable urban planning and design, municipal finance and governance to combat urban poverty and inequality and help cities face threats from conflict, climate change and natural hazards.
It will target cities with increasing levels of poverty and exclusion, with the aim of supporting the billion people who live in countries least able to achieve sustainable development, as well as urban dwellers in middle-income countries, which count three-quarters of the world’s poor.
“Our partnership with UNOPS is grounded in the recognition that, when well-planned and managed, urbanization is a powerful tool for economic development, social inclusion, and environmental sustainability”, said UN-Habitat’s executive director Dr Joan Clos.
“By aligning our mandates and core competencies, we stand a far greater chance of delivering a better future for all,” said UNOPS executive director Grete Faremo.
Today, about a third of the global urban population is estimated to live in slums and informal settlements, often without access to proper housing, infrastructure or services. Some 60% of the total 14.4 million refugees worldwide are thought to live in urban areas.
Cities are also at the forefront of climate change and have a critical role in ensuring a cleaner, healthier, and safer environment for all, said UN. The 650 million urban dwellers expected to be living in delta and coastal areas by 2050 face serious risks from floods, water scarcity, and ecological and economic damage. These threats are no longer limited to the poorest countries, it added: today, poverty, exclusion, and other barriers to peace and security affect all nations.