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Global CEO alliance, UNHabitat to support 1,000 cities on SDG


A new partnership between UN-Habitat and a community of business leaders aims to support 1,000 cities to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which could have a huge impact on the lives of over a billion people from developing, low and middle-income countries.

The Global CEO Alliance (GCEOA) and UN-Habitat signed a Memorandum of Understanding to support cities in achieving the SDGs. World leaders for national governments adopted the SDGs, but cities are now charting their performance on the achievement of the SDGs.

Cities host 55 per cent of the world’s population and implementing the SDGs in cities can have positive economic, social and environmental impacts globally and improve the quality of life locally.


Today, 55 per cent of the world’s population lives in cities. This is expected to rise to 70 per cent by 2050, making urbanisation one of the most significant trends of the 21st century. The global trend in urbanisation has brought with it increased wealth as cities generate 80 per cent of the word’s economy.

Yet, when poorly planned and managed, urbanisation generates inequalities and has already left a billion people living in slums with inadequate and often precarious living conditions.

However, if steered and deployed correctly, urbanisation can help the world overcome some of its major global challenges, including poverty, inequality, environmental degradation, climate change, fragility and conflict.

The 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and the New Urban Agenda are two globally agreed agendas that that can guide the achievement of sustainable urbanisation. The first provides a set of 17 SDGs, within which two-thirds of its 234 indicators have urban components.

The latter identifies the means through which sustainable urban development can be achieved, including roles of policy, legislation, inclusive governance, planning, municipal finance and sustainable infrastructure development.

While there is widescale demand by cities to understand how they are performing on the achievement of SDGs, many cities worldwide also need support in translating performance data into strategic plans and to the development, financing and implementation of targeted actions that can accelerate the achievement of SDGs and improve wellbeing for all.

UN-Habitat’s SDG cities global initiative supports cities to generate data, engage city residents in evidence-based strategic planning geared towards improving social, economic and environmental conditions in line with the SDGs, and implementing them through developing and financing high impact projects. The initiative also strengthens the ability of local authorities to plan and manage their cities effectively. To reach its ambitious target, all data, diagnostic and training tools will be digitised and easy to access and use.


Through the partnership, UN-Habitat and GCEOA hope to empower cities around the globe by leveraging data to identify best practices, tools, and resources and working towards establishing sustainable practices that put people and the planet at the core.

The Chair of the Global CEO Alliance, James Donovan, welcomed this agreement as a way to create more sustainable cities.

“This is one of the ways we can introduce innovation at a pace that will empower science, policy makers, the private sector and civil society in total along this journey of transformative change,” he said.

UN-Habitat’s Executive Director, Ms Maimunah Mohd Sharif, added that: “COVID-19 has taught us the importance of accelerating the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals in cities, making them more resilient, just and green. This requires public, private sector and civil society to urgently join forces and resources.

“We are delighted to be working hand-in-hand with the Global CEO Alliance to realise this ambitious initiative through the innovation and experience of its membership.”


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