City-to-City Partnerships and South-South and Triangular Cooperation on Sustainable Urban Development

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This report is published at a time when South-South and triangular cooperation (SSTC) and sustainable urban development are increasingly recognized as important means for implementing the Paris Agreement (UNFCCC 2015) and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with its 17 SDGs (UN 2015). 

The adoption of the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda in 2015 represent unprecedented multilateral commitments to tackling the global challenges of addressing climate change and achieving sustainable development. While urban development and climate action are emphasized as SDG 11 and SDG 13 respectively, these are also inter-connected with all the other SDGs.

This report focuses on the central theme of how cities are using innovative, collaborative and evidence-based processes to tackle the challenges of climate change and achieve sustainable development. In particular, it examines broad issues that are pertinent to sustainable development for cities, namely: how does the evolving context and challenges of climate change impact cities; and, what good practices and experiences emerge from management of the urban space through diverse, inclusive and sustainable strategies?

The report also examines how SSTC can help to further development outcomes, particularly those related to management and planning of the urban space in addressing climate change and fostering sustainable development. 

The outcome document of the second High-Level United Nations Conference on SouthSouth Cooperation, Buenos Aires (“BAPA+40 outcome document”), adopted in March 2019, (UN 2019) made significant contributions towards providing guidance for development partnerships in the context of SSTC in alignment with the economic and political transitions that have taken place since the adoption of the Buenos Aires Plan of Action (BAPA), in (UN 1978). 

The “BAPA+40 outcome document” welcomes, inter alia, the Paris Agreement − adopted in December (UNFCCC 2015) by the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at its twenty-first session, designed to trigger greater levels of action and ambition among the Parties to combat climate change in a cooperative manner. It also recalls the New Urban Agenda,(UN 2016) adopted by the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development in October 2016, which sets a shared 20-year vision for sustainable development of cities and municipalities in an integrated manner, and refers to other relevant major United Nations conferences and summits in the economic, social and related fields.

The BAPA+40 outcome document states that “an important means to this end is sharing good practices in participatory urban planning and management”. This is the reference that has inspired this publication and highlighted the catalytic role of SSTC at the sub-national level in sharing experience in this regard.Moreover, the New Urban Agenda (NUA) features an explicit link to SSTC. It recognizes the need to “expand opportunities for North-South, SSTC and international cooperation, as well as subnational, decentralized and city-to-city cooperation, as appropriate, to contribute to sustainable urban development, developing capacities and fostering exchanges of urban solutions and mutual learning at all levels and by all relevant actors.”

This report highlights the importance of sharing knowledge, practices, experiences, on a voluntary basis, in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and in the pursuit of sustainable development. It is intended as a knowledge resource to facilitate SSTC. By providing an insight into practical and effective development solutions adopted by Southern cities to combat climate change and foster sustainable development, it aims to enhance knowledge sharing and cooperation so that successes can be adapted, replicated and scaled up by other cities. 

Cities are at the frontier of transformation and could deliver sustained and inclusive growth and development outcomes for their inhabitants. An integrated approach to urban planning and management, backed by innovation and finance, are therefore critical to enabling cities to optimize the benefits of urbanization whilst securing a sustainable, climate-resilient and low emission future.