International actors’ urban programmes

African Development Bank

The AfDB’s urban strategy seeks to boost the viability and competitiveness of African cities to ensure that they perform their role as real engines of economic growth and social development. The strategy involves three pillars:

  • Infrastructure delivery: Deliver and expand basic infrastructure services and build capacity to maintain public infrastructure assets.
  • Governance: Strengthen the corporate governance and the managerial capacity of municipal authorities to promote a culture of transparency; strengthen anti-corruption safeguards; and build the capacity for urban planning.
  • Private sector development: Create conducive environments for private sector investment, including the promotion and strengthening of local financial markets.

(2011) African Development Group’s urban development strategy: Transforming Africa’s cities and towns into engines of economic growth and social development.

Asian Development Bank

The ADB’s Urban Operational Plan (UOP) addresses the programmatic issues hindering cities’ efficient, sustainable and equitable development and the financially sustainable investments on which this development depends. The UOP focuses on inclusiveness, green development and competitiveness, and supports the adoption of cutting-edge planning, technology and financial products.

(2013) Urban Operational Plan 2012-2020.

(2014) Sustainable urbanization in Asia and Latin America.


C40 is a network of the world’s megacities committed to addressing climate change. It supports cities to collaborate effectively, share knowledge and drive meaningful, measurable and sustainable action on climate change.

(2014) Advancing climate ambition: Cities as partners in global climate action.

(2016) Unlocking climate action in megacities.

Cities Alliance

The Cities Alliance is a global partnership for urban poverty reduction and promotion of the role of cities in sustainable development. Its members include local authorities, national governments, NGOs and multilateral organisations. It provides grants in support of:

  • city development strategies;
  • citywide and nationwide informal settlement upgrading;
  • national policies on urban development and local government.

The Cities Alliance Secretariat does not implement the projects, drawing instead on the existing capacity of members. In-country work is managed through cities, the regional operational units of members, other multilateral and bilateral partners and existing global and regional partnership programmes.

(2010) Building cities: Neighbourhood upgrading and urban quality of life

(2011) The case for incremental housing.

(2014) Managing systems of secondary cities: Policy responses in international development


OECD work on urban issues is grouped around four areas.

Thematic work on cities: How can cities be most effective in tackling climate change and achieving greener growth? How can ports be an asset for urban development? What links can be fostered between urban and rural areas to boost a region’s economic potential? How can cities adapt to demographic change? Recent OECD work explores these questions in detail.

Roundtable of mayors and ministers: The OECD Roundtable is the pre-eminent international forum for policy dialogue on urban issues between local and national leaders. The Sixth OECD Roundtable took place in Mexico City on 16 October 2015.

City and metropolitan statistics: How does your city compare with over 281 of its international peers? The OECD Metro Database and Metro eXplorer provide comparable international data for urban and metro areas relating to GDP, CO2 emissions, sprawl, innovation and more.

Urban policy and metropolitan reviews: What policies can help cities and metropolitan areas become more competitive, sustainable and inclusive over the long term? The OECD conducts in-depth analyses of national-level policies related to urban development, as well as reviews of cities and metro areas, to evaluate current policies and propose strategies for boosting economic growth, improving environmental performance and fostering social inclusion.

(2010) Cities and climate change: Policy perspectives, national governments enabling local action

(2012). Promoting inclusive growth: Challenges and policies.

(2015) The metropolitan century: Understanding urbanisation and its consequences, policy highlights

UN / UN-Habitat

UN-Habitat is the UN programme working towards a better urban future. Its mission is to promote socially and environmentally sustainable human settlements development and the achievement of adequate shelter for all. Initiatives and programmes include:

Africa urban agenda programme Global public space programme Urban low emission development programme
Cities and climate change initiatives Urban planning and design lab National urban policies
Cities and climate change academy Participatory slum upgrading programme Planned city extensions
City resilience profiling programme Safer cities programme Urban youth fund

UN-Habitat convened the Habitat III Conference in October 2016, which agreed a New Urban Agenda.

(2012) Gender responsive urban planning and design. UN-Habitat.

(2012) State of the world’s cities 2012/13: Prosperity of cities. UN-Habitat.

(2014) The challenge of local government financing in developing countries. UN-Habitat.

(2014) Construction of more equitable cities. UN-Habitat.

(2014) State of world population 2015: Shelter from the storm, a transformative agenda for women and girls in a crisis-prone world. UNFPA.

(2014) Framework of actions for the follow-up to the programme of action of the international conference on population and development beyond 2014. UNFPA.

(2014) Governance for sustainable development: integrating governance in the post-2015 development framework. UNDP.

(2014) The evolution of national urban policies: A global overview. UN-Habitat.

(2015) The state of Asian cities 2015. Urban transformations: Shifting from quantity to quality. UN-Habitat.

(2015) UN-Habitat global activities report 2015: Increasing synergy for greater national ownership. UN-Habitat.

(2015) Local governments’ pocket guide to resilience. UN-Habitat.

Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO)

WIEGO is a global network focused on securing livelihoods for the working poor, especially women, in the informal economy. It seeks to create change by building capacity among informal worker organisations, expanding the knowledge base and influencing local, national and international policies.

World Bank (urban development)

The World Bank’s work in urban development aims to build sustainable communities. This is aligned with institutional goals to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity through urbanisation that is inclusive, resilient, low carbon and liveable, as well as competitive. The World Bank undertakes a wide array of programmes and projects around these broad areas.

(2011) The political economy of sanitation: How can we increase investment and improve service for the poor? (Vol. 2). Main report. 

(2012) Urban risk assessments: Understanding disaster and climate risk in Cities

(2013) Planning, connecting, and financing cities – now: Priorities for city leaders.

(2014) Municipal finances: A handbook for local governments.

(2015a) City Strength Diagnostic Methodological Guidebook.

(2016) Leveraging urbanization in South Asia: Managing prosperity and liveability.