The fundamental objective of the Sustainable Cities Programme is to promote environmentally sustainable local development and to more fully realize the vital (and growing) contributions that human settlements make to overall social and economic development. The overall purpose of this programme is to enable municipal authorities to better address priority local environmental issues and to better achieve sustainable urbanization by providing them and their partners with an improved environmental planning and management (EPM) capacity and policy application processes. The broader purpose is to reduce poverty by more efficiently and equitably managing the use of environmental resources and the control of hazards and by promoting employment through improved environmental service delivery.
Currently, the programme is directly engaged in 16 countries, where the main focus of activities is on environmental planning and management and policy implementation processes. Such initiatives are always conditioned on leveraging minimum matching funds and long-term follow-up, and wherever opportune, linking these activities with urban governance campaign work, mainly through advocacy and capacity building.
Through the programme, an increasing number of local authorities and their partners have been able to reduce poverty by improving priority urban environmental services. National replications are anchored on sustained “local authority support units”. Lessons learned have been integrated into national policy and legislative frameworks. Environment planning and management (EPM) tools and capacity-building methodologies have been customized and applied locally. A number of national and sub-regional urban institutions have been able to provide sustained EPM technical support to local authorities and promote networking. The programme has promoted strong global artnerships for sustainable urbanization.