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Urban development and social transformations  
Urban development and social transformations
What are the conditions that allow for sustainable urban development and, more particularly, social sustainability? The reply to this important question calls for lengthy research which is essential for all urban development policy.
As with any undertaking, it is a question of analysing urban phenomena, the sometimes divergent interests of the various city actors, and the social, political, professional and environmental procedures. This needs to be carried out by researchers and decision-makers working together.

Only then, based on the acquired knowledge and experience, can human settlements be improved, through partnerships with the various actors – local authorities, universities, the private sector, NGOs and intergovernmental organizations – by focusing programmes on the residents, who are the prime actors of urban development.

UNESCO works as a catalyst for research and action, facilitating knowledge transfer, mobilizing efforts around urban policies thanks to partnerships with the academic world, university teachers and researchers, international urban dwellers’ NGOs such as ENDA, AIVE, AIMF, CFLG, Metropolis, regional or city associations such as the World Association of United Cities and Local Governments and the Council of Europe, bilateral cooperation and particularly through close ties with the other United Nations agencies that have the expertise and experience of working on urban projects such as UN-HABITAT, UNDP and UNICEF.

There are several areas in particular that touch on a variety of issues of urban living throughout the world:
  • the position of women and children, especially the most disadvantaged, and their participation in the process of improving life in the city
  • city living and the social mix in historical city centres
  • development of new democratic rules for urban and regional governance
  • human rights in the city
  • raising public awareness on urban problems and the linkages between rural and urban landscapes
Multidisciplinarity and participatory action are absolutely essential in order to tackle such complex issues. The partnerships that have been set up provide cities with innovative tools, with opportunities for fruitful exchange and with links opening onto more efficient collaboration.

Initiatives are followed through, conclusions drawn and projects become operational models: each experience can thus benefit all cities throughout the world. The added value of the network idea lies in the promotion and transfer of results.

On going Projects
Quartiers du Monde : Histoires urbaines
In cooperation with ENDA. Phase II: une recherche action sur les migrations: Barcelone, Dakar, Montreuil, Palma de Mallorca et Sale

Completed Projects

Programme on the role of scientific research in urban development (PRUD)

In partnership with the French Cooperation Office for Urban Development, the Environment and Urban Planning

Cities, the Environment and Gender Relations
Project presented by the MOST Swiss National Committee for UNESCO

City Words - International Comparative Research Project

Cities: management of social and environmental transformations UNESCO MOST Programme and MAB Programme

Towards socially sustainable cities: building a knowledge base for Urban Management

Industrial Decentralisation and Urban Development in India with consideration of South-East and East Asian States

Small Historical Coastal Cities
UNESCO CSI Programme

Contact: Brigitte Colin

Image: Vancouver, Canada © N. Taylor

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