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State of the Region’s Cities Reports
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Project description

At the end of the first decade of the 21st century, intermediate size cities and huge regional urban systems have become the dominant factors of the world’s social, economic, cultural and political matrix. Burdened with problems associated with hyper growth, developing countries’ cities are increasingly subject to dramatic socio-economic, political and environmental vulnerability crises. For better or for worse, the development of contemporary societies will depend on how we manage the growth of cities and the associated political dimensions of sustainable urban development. The city as a socio-political and economic phenomenon will increasingly become a test bed for the adequacy of political institutions, for the performance of government agencies, and for the effectiveness of combating social exclusion, to protect the environment and to promote human development, including resilience to systemic shocks such as urban food, energy and water security shocks.
Location: Regional
- Regional and Technical Cooperation Division
- Regional Office for Arab States
- Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific
- Regional Office for Latin America and the caribean
Partner: Regional commissions, UNECA, UNESCWA, ESCAP
- Urban Development and Management
Budget: USD 880,000
Received/Pledged: USD 20,000

Focus Area(s)

- FA2: Promotion of participatory urban planning, management and governance


As the outcome of a long global urbanization trend, in 2008 half the world’s population was living in cities. It should be anticipated that, by 2040, more than two-thirds of the global population will be urban dwellers. Although a global process, urbanization has not taken place evenly. The advanced economies by and large stabilized at around 75 percent urban populations. The most rapid growth of cities is now taking place in the developing region: Africa, Arab States, Asia/Pacific and Latin America/Caribbean, which will have to absorb nearly all global urban growth. Additionally, states with economies in transition are facing daunting urban challenges as well, albeit that they are less based in rapid urban growth than in matters of sustainable urban economies and decaying urban physical and social fabrics. While the globally increasing pace of urbanization causes a rapidly rising total number of cities, ever-larger urban agglomerations and huge city regions and urban development corridors, it is important to note that the key contribution to urbanization in the three most rapidly urbanizing regions will come from an unprecedented urbanization of poverty.Cities in the South and in states with economies in transition will face enormous challenges of economic, social and environmental sustainability. These challenges are exacerbated by scarce resources, both financial and human and in terms of urban institutional capacities. Despite these challenges, cities simply have to find ways to address the tasks ahead if urban areas are to continue playing their critical leading role in providing avenues for social development, sustainable livelihoods and as centers of cultural synthesis with assurances of better quality of life. But the possibilities for achieving environmental sustainability are decreasing in many of the major regions as increasingly larger numbers of human concentrations in cities will create more, and more complex urban environmental problems. Moreover, the impacts of climate change and the associated sea level rise will put many coastal cities around the world at higher risk of surge flooding. The developing South is especially vulnerable because they comprise 64 percent of the world’s 3,351 cities in low-elevation coastal zones.


  • The primary objective of this proposal is the production of five ‘State of the Region’s Cities’ reports:

    (a) State of the African Cities;

    (b) State of the Arab Cities;

    (c) State of the Asian Cities;

    (d) State of the East European Cities;

    (e) State of the Latin American and Caribbean Cities.

  • These five reports aim at national and local level capacity building through creating a knowledge management platform towards achieving sustainable urban development; improving urban governance; and reducing urban poverty. Through monitoring, analyzing and reporting on major areas of the implementation of the Habitat Agenda and the MDGs in terms of the realities faced by urban policy makers and urban populations, the reports are intended to provide regional comparisons of city-level analyses.
  • A secondary objective is to promote the establishment of tailored statistical databases to support better national and local capacities for the informed formulation of national and local policies that, in turn, will inform and enhance decision-making processes.
  • The tertiary objective is to create better understanding of the cities - as the world’s habitat for a growing majority of the global population – in the global economy, as food, water and energy input systems, and as major generators of wastes, pollution and socio-economic risk.

Target Group

Ministers of Housing and urban development, Mayors and Habitat Agenda partners



If you may be interested in funding this project, please contact us: info.rmu@unhabitat.org
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