The link between urban management and environmental sustainability

The policy framework for the sustainable development of urban areas requires multilevel cooperation among local, national and global communities and partnerships to mobilize public and private resources. Democratic legitimacy and stakeholder consultation are also very important.

Sustainable development of urban areas requires integration and coordination, including regarding land-use issues, food security, employment creation, transportation infrastructure development, biodiversity conservation, water conservation, renewable energy sourcing, waste and recycling management, and the provision of education, health care and housing.

Synergies can be identified, e.g., between waste and recycling management (environmental management) and access to water and sanitation (social development), between air quality conservation and green public transportation, and between production and distribution of renewable energy sources and green energy access, as well as between the goal of reducing inequities (effective urban governance) and access to education and
health care (social development).

The Survey proposes an integrated set of investments in infrastructure, public services and capacity development for different groups of countries.

An integrated approach to rural and urban development is critical. Investment in economic and social infrastructure in rural areas might improve productivity, reduce poverty and inequity and create additional opportunities for sustainable livelihoods.

Sustainable development of cities in poor countries entails investment in infrastructure such as roads, water, sewers, electricity and services such as schools, public transportation and health care. Leapfrogging investment in a green industrial transformation can generate youth employment. In cities of middle and high-income countries, investment in infrastructure, renewable energy, buildings, and improved electricity and water efficiencies is important.

Investment in the reduction of waste production and improvement of waste collection and recycling systems is needed in most cities across the world. Providing access to modern energy services is a real challenge to urban authorities in developing countries which often do not have enough capacity to respond, nor the ability to raise the needed long-term financial resources for investment.

A “one size fits all” approach towards sustainable development in cities is precluded, since cities’ priorities, objectives and paths are highly diverse.

Policy frameworks need to promote a common integrated approach, while differentiating among the responsibilities of upper, middle and low-income countries. Consequently, measures of sustainable development progress also need to be tailored to the particular challenges and opportunities identified and prioritized by the cities’ main stakeholders.