Public-Private Cooperation, the Ideal Way to Achieve Sustainable Urban Development


Public-private cooperation needs to be employed to implement and address the key priorities set out in the New Urban Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals. This can be achieved only through dialogue and engagement between multistakeholders that include government, business and civil society.

“The world is experiencing an unprecedented transition from predominantly rural to chiefly urban living. In 1950, a third of the world’s population lived in cities; today, the proportion has already reached more than half. By 2050, city dwellers are expected to account for more than two-thirds of the world’s population. If our cities are to be sustainably developed, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals and New Urban Agenda, they will need to enable vital cooperation between the public and private sectors, as well as wider civil society, to create the financial and delivery models required to achieve sustainable development,” said Alice Charles, Lead, Urban Development, World Economic Forum.

The global rise of cities has been unprecedented. According to the United Nations, 60% of urban growth is attributed to natural population increase, while 40% is due to migration of rural to urban and international migration.

To respond to urbanization and lead the world towards sustainable urban development, the UN is conducting a global conference, Habitat III, in Quito, Ecuador, on 17-20 October 2016. The objectives are to secure renewed political commitment for sustainable urban development, assess the accomplishments of Habitat II (Istanbul, Turkey, 1996) and address poverty and emerging challenges. The outcome of the conference will be a concise, focused, forward-looking and action-oriented document, referred to as the New Urban Agenda, which will set new global priorities on urbanization for the next two decades.

Joan Clos, Executive Director and Under Secretary-General, UN-Habitat, said “The signing of the New Urban Agenda at the Habitat III conference is a unique opportunity to set out urban strategies that will integrate all facets of sustainable development to promote equity, welfare, shared prosperity and contribute to maximizing the benefits of good urbanization.”

The World Economic Forum has been actively engaged with UN Habitat to strengthen the implementation of the New Urban Agenda. The Forum, in its emerging report, Harnessing Public-Private Cooperation to Deliver the New Urban Agenda, highlights the role of the private sector in the delivery of urban infrastructure and services in all aspects of the urban value chain. These include policy-making, planning, design, implementation, operation and maintenance, and monitoring, as well as the financing of urban service delivery.

Gregory Hodkinson, Chairman, Arup Group, said: “It is essential that the global agendas on sustainable urban development take due cognizance of the value created by the private sector and recommend that an environment that’s based on the principal of integrity and trust can encourage the private sector to commit its resource, skills, experience and investments towards the public sector urban development vision and initiatives.”

Public-private cooperation is required to build sustainable urban transformation agendas. The public and private sectors must create a structured process to engage relevant stakeholders either through informal consultation or formal agreements to drive cities towards social, environmental and economic sustainability while enhancing urban equity, quality of life, social services, resiliency, trust, integrity, innovation, cohesion and inclusiveness.

The high-level findings of the report recommend the following actions and policies to address the challenges and opportunities of urbanization:


Hazem Galal, Global Leader, Cities and Local Government, PwC, said: “Both the private sector and government must play their part to deliver on the objectives of the New Urban Agenda by prioritizing their actions based on a city’s unique context, immediate and long-term priorities and the created impact to achieve sustainable development.”

For action to be translated into successful implementations that enable economic progress and social and environmental sustainability, nations must prioritize and initiate test runs to check the feasibility of recommended actions to validate response, while gaining experience to improve and shape better outcomes.

Following this press release, the World Economic Forum hopes to continue the exchange of ideas on sustainable urban development and implementation of the New Urban Agenda among corporate leaders in infrastructure, engineering, construction and urban services with senior policy-makers and city officials. The objective is to substantiate the recommended actions with success stories and contribute to a broader dialogue on the private sector’s actions to deliver sustainable urban development during the annual World Economic Forum 2017 in Davos-Klosters in January.

The World Economic Forum’s Future of Urban Development and Services Initiative serves as a partner in transformation to cities worldwide as they seek to address major urban challenges and transition towards smarter, more sustainable cities. Directed by a Steering Board and guided by an Advisory Board, the Future of Urban Development and Services Initiative works in collaboration with local partners.


UK drops plans to hand Chagos Islands back to Mauritius

Britain will drop plans to hand the Chagos Islands...

Will Congress vote massive aid to Ukraine?

There will be no additional funding for Ukraine without...

How can Central Asian countries promote collective regional identity

Authors: Alouddin and Ozod Tanbev* In recent years, Central Asia...