The Sustainable Cities Programme (SCP) is a joint UN-HABITAT/UNEP facility established in the early 1990s to build capacities in urban environmental planning and management. The programme targets urban local authorities and their partners. It is founded on broad-based stakeholder participatory approaches. Currently the SCP and its sister programme Localising Agenda 21 operate in over 30 countries worlwide.
The Urban Challenge
Cities play a vital role in the social and economic development of countries. Efficient and productive cities are essential for national economic growth and equally, strong urban economies are essential for generating the resources needed for public and private investments in infrastructure, education and health, improved living conditions, and poverty alleviation. However, urban environmental problems are a serious threat to the full realisation of the socio-economic contribution which cities can make. Environmental degradation brings with it enormous costs, resulting in significant inefficiencies in the use of local resources. It also compounds inequities, and threatens the sustainability of development. Yet environmental degradation is not inevitable and is often caused by inappropriate urban development policies and ineffective planning and management.
The environmental planning and management (EPM) approach of the Sustainable Cities Programme (SCP) addresses the urban challenge by promoting the sustainability of cities. The EPM approach is based on and supports the efforts that cities make in improving their environments by improving their environmental information and expertise; their strategies and decision-making; and their implementation of strategies. With improved EPM capacity and policy application processes, municipal authorities are able to better address priority local environmental issues. On a broader scale, SCP helps to reduce poverty by more efficiently and equitably managing the use of environmental resources and the control of hazards and by promoting employment through improved environmental service delivery.
To strengthen local capacities for EPM), SCP directly helps local authorities and their partners to achieve a well-managed urban environment as part of a sustainable urban development process that empowers all city dwellers. Consequently, SCP promotes good environmental governance at all levels:
- Locally , by supporting partners in cities to apply a well proven four stage Environmental Planning and Management Process.
- Nationally , by supporting national partners to replicate local-level best practices into national scale and to integrate lessons of experience into national policy and legal frameworks.
- Regionally , by facilitating city-to-city exchanges and technical cooperation amongst developing countries through partner networks and regional meetings.
- Globally , by combining the complementary strengths of UN-HABITAT and UNEP in applying specialised expertise and synthesising experiences for awareness building, policy formulation and national replication.
In promoting urban environmental governance processes SCP works closely with UN-HABITAT's Global Campaign on Urban Governance (link to Urban Governance below) .
Key Features of the SCP
The SCP was started in the early nineties to support both the missions of UN-HABITAT and UNEP. The first phase (Link below) concluded in 2001, and the current second phase (link below) runs from 2002 - 2007.
- A facility to package urban Environmental Planning and Management (EPM) approaches, technologies and know-how.
- An EPM capacity development infrastructure - facilitating sub-regional resource networks for wider impact.
- Strengthening local capacities to address urban environmental priority issues.
- Enabling replication and scaling-up of EPM activities.
- Mobilising anchoring institutions for EPM support.
- Municipalities and local partners with multi- and bilateral external support from UN-HABITAT, UNEP, UNDP, ILO, the World Bank, the Netherlands, Japan, France, Denmark, and the United Kingdom.
- Broad-based stakeholder involvement in city development strategies.
- Participatory problem solving through inclusive processes and pro-poor governance.
- Mobilisation of local resources and commitment.
- A framework for capacity development and support for institutions leading to better implementation.
- Mainstreaming environmental concerns in urban planning and management.
- An instrument for implementing UNEP's Agenda 21 mission at the city level, and the environmental component of the Habitat Agenda, the Declaration on Cities and other Human Settlements and the Millennium Declaration.
SCP PHASE ONE, 1991-2001
The fundamental objective of SCP is to promote environmentally sustainable urban development.
The key components of SCP Phase One were:
- Operational support : To provide support to participating cities via demonstration projects that implement the EPM process to address key urban issues.
- Development of management tools : Based on the practical experiences of cities, to develop EPM management tools in the form of source books and handbooks.
- Networking : to facilitate information and expertise exchange between SCP Partners (cities, organisations and programmes).
- Information and awareness building : to raise awareness of SCP and of the urban environment agenda, and to document and disseminate information.
- Resource mobilisation and management : to enable the implementation of the programme.
By year 2000, all the above components had been implemented. SCP had 29 active partner cities, there were 9 countries with national SCP programmes (in preparation or on going) and replication of city demonstration projects was taking place in 25 cities. In addition, EPM training had been carried out in 6 countries, SCP had established a tradition of regular regional and global meetings, and there was an operational SCP website.
SCP PHASE TWO, 2002-2007
The second phase of SCP builds on the lessons and achievements of phase one. It is a long term initiative aiming at strengthening the institutional capacity of city and local authorities and their partners in the area of urban environmental planning & management. The objectives of this phase are threefold: to improve the EPM/SCP application and policy implementation processes, to develop an institutional framework and network for sustained EPM support, and to institutionalise SCP's normative functions.
The key components of Phase Two are:
- Strengthening EPM implementation by reviewing its implementation modalities, and strengthening the packaging and implementation of Demonstration Projects, particularly through the Sustainable Urban Mobility ( SUM) initiative and the Basic Urban Services (BUS) initiative.
- Support for Regional and National institutions and partners through capacity development programmes through the Anchoring Institutions initiative and the adaptation of SCP and EPM tools at local level.
- Mainstreaming EPM into standards for SCP Partners through improved knowledge management, the development of new EPM Tools, an updated and expanded SCP global website, and regular global meetings for partners.
The Urban Governance Campaign
UN-HABITAT launched the Global Campaign on Urban Governance in 1999 to support the implementation of the Habitat Agenda goal of “sustainable human settlements development in an urbanizing world.” The campaign's goal is to contribute to the eradication of poverty through improved urban governance. There is a growing international consensus that the quality of urban governance is the single most important factor for the eradication of poverty and for prosperous cities. The campaign aims to increase the capacity of local governments and other stakeholders to practice good urban governance. The campaign focuses attention on the needs of the excluded urban poor. It promotes the involvement of women in decision-making at all levels, recognizing that women are one of the biggest levers for positive change in society.
Sustainable Urban Mobility (SUM)
The Sustainable Urban Mobility (SUM) component is a new activity within the SCP Programme. Active since mid 2003, this component offers SCP cities the opportunity of technical support and limited funding to build technical capacity in the area of low-cost mobility (walking and cycling) planning and management. It will also demonstrate the positive impacts of infrastructure interventions aimed at increasing the efficiency and safety of these modes of transport. Lessons and experiences obtained by the participating cities will be disseminated SCP-wide through newsletters and a dedicated website. The SUM initiative is aimed at strengthening the technical knowledge of local authorities and their partners on sustainable urban mobility and to institutionalise it through the SCP/Environmental Planning and Management process. The support will focus on improving the readiness and ability of local authorities to allocate financial and human resources towards enhancing sustainable urban mobility with a strong focus on poverty reduction and therefore on low cost transportation. The SUM initiative is currently being implemented in Kisumu ,( link to country activities) Kenya with the technical support of ITDG, and will soon begin in Tanzania .
Visit the SUM website
Basic Urban Services (BUS)
The BUS initiative aims to strengthen the capacity of local authorities and their partners in dealing with basic urban services like water and sanitation in poorly serviced urban neighbourhoods. A joint initiative of SCP and the International Water & Sanitation Centre (IRC), it will focus on the involvement and ownership of the community in organising, delivering and maintaining basic urban services related to water and sanitation. It will assist local authorities to prepare a municipal strategy on basic urban services based on an SCP/EPM process. BUS initiatives are currently being implemented in Bobo Dioulasso, (link to country activities) Burkina Faso with support of a local NGO, CREPA and in Kotte and Wattala (link to country activities) in Greater Colombo, Sri Lanka with the support of a network of local organisations including ITDG, National Housing Development Agency, NERD, SEVANATHA and MaRGG.
Capacity Building/Anchoring Institutions
SCP is currently developing and formalizing an institutional framework for sustained EPM support at national and regional level. Consequently, SCP is seeking partnership with capacity-building/training institutions through which it can channel global level support. Prospective institutions will be expected to develop capacity for addressing the key objectives of LA21 and SCP. This will entail:
- Strengthening national and sub-regional Local Authority connections so that documented lessons of experience are more systematically disseminated. This will help to promote national replication and influence environmental and poverty reduction policy dialogues and legislative reforms.
- Localising and adapting relevant international environmental agreements and EPM source books.
- Strengthening national and sub-regional training institutions so they provide more systematic capacity-building support to partners to implement the EPM process.
- Integrating EPM lessons into their curricular.
List of current SCP Anchoring Institutions
Negotiations are under way with several institutions
Thailand Environment Institute
Latin America and the Caribbean
Negotiations are under way with several institutions