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Global Urban Observatory
Better Information for Better Cities

Background: The Global Urban Observatory (GUO) addresses the urgent need to improve the world-wide base of urban knowledge by helping Governments, local authorities and organizations of the civil society develop and apply policy-oriented urban indicators, statistics and other urban information. The GUO was established by UN-HABITAT in response to a decision of the United Nations Commission on Human Settlements, which called for a mechanism to monitor global progress in implementing the Habitat Agenda and to monitor and evaluate global urban conditions and trends. The GUO works closely with Best Practices and Local Leadership programme (BLP) which was established to make use of information and networking in support of the Habitat Agenda Implementation. Both programmes operate under the Monitoring Systems Branch, which has the overall mandate to monitor progress on the Habitat Agenda and the Millenium Development Goals.

Activities: Current activities are based on the development of an integrated network of National and Local Urban Observatories. The beneficiaries are policy-makers at all levels and organizations of the civil society participating in sustainable urban development. The three main areas of work include assistance to governments, local authorities and organizations of local civil society to amplify their ability to collect, manage and maintain and use information on urban development; enhance the use of knowledge and urban indicators for policy formulation, planning and urban management through participatory process; and collection and dissemination of results of global, national and city level monitoring aactivities, as well as disseminating good practices in the use of urban information world-wide.

Flagship products:

Urban Observatories: Local and National Urban Observatories are governmental agencies, research centres or educational institutions that are designated as the "workshops" where monitoring tools are developed and used for policy-making through consultative processes. A Local Urban Observatory for a city or town is the focal point for urban policy development and planning where collaboration among policy makers, technical experts and representatives of partners groups is fostered. Networks of Local Urban Observatories are facilitated by National Urban Observatories where necessary. National Urban Observatories co-ordinate capacity building assistance and compile and analyze urban data for national policy development. Setting-up an Urban Observatory. Guide to joining the Global Urban Observatory Network.