This year, the United Nations has selected the theme Inclusive Cities, Shared Development to highlight the important role of urbanization as a source of global development and social inclusion.

Inclusive Cities, Shared Development

Urbanization provides the potential for new forms of social inclusion, including greater equality, access to services and new opportunities, and engagement and mobilization that reflects the diversity of cities, countries and the globe.

Yet too often this is not the shape of urban development. Inequality and exclusion abound, often at rates greater than the national average, at the expense of sustainable development that delivers for all.

Inequalities in cities have grown since 1980. The world largest cities are also often the most unequal. However, big inequalities are found in small cities in Africa and Latin America.

Economic inequality is closely linked with gender inequality and spatial inequality, leading to the exclusion and often criminalization of disadvantaged and vulnerable groups such as slum dwellers, migrant workers, children, young people, older persons, persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and minority groups.

Evidence shows that urbanization can represent enormous opportunities for sustainable development, and it can lead to a more harmonious and inclusive society.

This year’s theme is embraced by the action and implementation of the New Urban Agenda, which is putting the topic of inclusive cities as one of the main pillars for the urban shift.

Extracted from the Habitat III Issue Paper on Inclusive Cities (a.o. Pro Poor, Gender, Youth, Ageing), prepared by the UN Task Team on Habitat III.