- United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS)
- United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat)
Infrastructure is the corner stone of modern society. From the supply of energy and water, and the treatment of waste, to the provision of effective healthcare and education services, it is infrastructure that enables society to function effectively, grow and prosper. The role of infrastructure in enabling development is highlighted increasingly through the global agendas including the:
• Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs);
• Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction;
• New Urban Agenda; and
• Paris Agreement on Climate Change COP21
Building on a growing understanding of the importance of infrastructure in achieving sustainable development, the session will strengthen positioning of infrastructure in the debate on sustainable urban development and draw together views on actions and mechanisms to bridge the infrastructure deficit to achieve “safe, resilient, inclusive and sustainable cities and human settlements.”
The degree of access, quality and environmental sustainability of infrastructure and basic services directly impacts on how cities and human settlements are able to achieve the transformative commitments of the New Urban Agenda and their related Sustainable Development Goals (highlighted below.)
UNOPS and UN-Habitat jointly developed the Habitat III Issue Paper “Urban Infrastructure and Basic Services including Energy,” and coordinated a Special Session on this topic at the Habitat III conference in 2016. The issue paper describes how accelerated growth in infrastructure demand accompanying the acceleration of global urbanization has resulted in significant and growing unmet demand for infrastructure, largely due to inadequate financial systems to generate capital needed. This is manifested in inequitable distribution of services which contributes to social and economic inequality, increased disaster risk in urban areas and negative environmental and climate change impacts, compounded by the over-reliance on outdated technologies.
In keeping with SDG Targets 1.4, 11.1, 6.1, 6.2, and 7.1 the New Urban Agenda promotes “equitable and affordable access to sustainable basic physical and social infrastructure for all, without discrimination’ and to achieve this recognizes the need to “strengthen the coordination role of national, subnational and local governments.. and their collaboration with other public entities and non-governmental organizations.” Resonating with SDG target 11.2 it recognizes the importance of energy efficient transportation systems and improved connectivity to improve urban-rural socio-economic interactions, and of renewable and affordable energy and efficient transport infrastructure to reduce environmental costs and air pollution. The New Urban Agenda also recognizes the critical role of infrastructure in strengthening urban resilience, and thus its role in achieving SDG 13.
Particularly relevant for the advancement of the implementation of the New Urban Agenda and the achievement of Agenda 2030 is the linkage to the Collaborative Action Framework for the New Urban Agenda. One of the key objectives of this session is therefore also to illustrate how both infrastructure and the Collaborative Action Framework will support the implementation of the New Urban Agenda.