Applying Urban Nexus Approach for Achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

UNESCAP - Urban Nexus Policy Brief 2019

Key messages

✓ Cities are home to over half of the world’s population and are centers of growing resource demand. In many cities, the immense demand for resources is driven by the conventional silo approach to resource management, inefficient production systems, and resource-intensive lifestyles. Efforts to improve efficiency in urban systems by improving sectoral coordination can significantly reduce resource demand and contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

✓ Understanding interlinkages among different sectors is critical to optimizing urban system planning, improving resource efficiency, reducing environmental pollution and consequently achieving the related SDG targets.

✓ The urban nexus approach identifies interlinkages among urban sectors and guides actions toward capturing synergies and reducing trade-offs across the sectors, which contributes to sustainable and cost-effective resource use and urban development. The urban nexus approach contributes to multiple SDGs including SDG-2 (zero hunger), SDG-6 (clean water and sanitation), SDG-7 (affordable and clean energy), SDG-11 (sustainable cities), SDG-12 (responsible consumption and production) and SDG-13 (climate action).

✓ Operationalization of nexus between urban sectors is challenged by weak inter-institutional coordination, conventional sectoral budget lines and lack of coordination between local government strategies and national budgets, lack of science-based evidence and data collection capacities to support decision making, and inadequate knowledge and information dissemination on urban nexus solutions.

✓ To operationalize urban nexus for achieving SDGs, incorporating an integrated approach in SDGs strategies and planning is crucial, and an SDGs coordination unit under a Prime Minister’s or President’s Office or ministry such as Ministry of Finance or Ministry of Planning can lead the process of integration. Furthermore, an incentive mechanism to promote institutional collaboration can be introduced. It is also important to formulate incentive mechanisms including favourable budget allocation strategies, tax exemptions policies, and soft loan schemes for upscaling urban nexus from pilots to significant actions.

✓ To take forward the urban nexus approach in support of the SDGs, local communities, private sector, youth, and civil society should be educated and sensitized on the concept. Bringing urban nexus concepts (and more broadly principles of circular economies) to classrooms through integration within curricula will provide future leaders with better understanding and awareness of the benefits of integrated solutions.