United Nations Day, 24 October 2017, has marked the official opening of the UN Global Compact – Cities Programme Regional Office at the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil. The office will reach out to municipalities, states and partners to develop partnerships and projects to advance the Sustainable Development Goals and the Ten Principles of the United Nations Global Compact.
Elizabeth Ryan, the Deputy Director of the UN Global Compact – Cities Programme, told Cities Today: “Professionals in Brazil generally view urban sustainability with a broad, holistic lens. In my experience, Brazilians always consider the social and environmental aspects of sustainability, and see addressing social and economic inequity and poverty as critical to creating cities that are sustainable, safe and good to live in.”
Ryan mentioned the importance of urban governance and the long history of involvement of architects and urbanists in social agendas: “I recently learnt that Brazil was the first country in the world to include the right to the city in its constitution.”
City Partnerships initiative
Brazil is the first country to implement the Australian pilot ‘City Partnership’ project which, in the space of two years, will focus on the capacity development and facilitation to form strong and innovative Public Private Partnerships around robust, investable sustainable urban development plans.
“These projects are shaped around cities’ individual needs, informed by a diagnostic and consultation process; not the traditional model of designing urban projects to meet external funders criteria,” commented Ryan.
The strategy places importance on civil society and community engagement and aims at utilising partnerships with universities through expertise, monitoring and evaluation, and the private sector by means of task design and delivery.
“Cross-sectoral collaboration is the platform of the Cities Programme,” added Ryan. “Experience has shown us that the only way that cities can overcome the big, complex urban challenges that face them is in partnership. City governments cannot shoulder the burden alone.”
The funds for the project will be sought from different sources including state, national, private sector, ethical investment funds, foundations and international agencies.
The United Nations Global Compact established the Cities Programme in 2003 to give cities a framework to advance the fundamental principles in the areas of human rights, labour standards, the environment and anti-corruption. It functions as the urban arm of the United Nations Global Compact, and is working to achieve fair, inclusive, sustainable and resilient cities and societies as referred to in the 11th Sustainable Development Goal.
“We have already received interest from other countries like India, China and Poland in hosting regional offices,” said Ryan. “This model–that anchors institutions to host offices to build local collaboration and action–is a great demonstration of the power of partnerships and truly helping to ground sustainable development goals in the local context.”