The Role of Cities in the United Nations System

Project Team

In recent years, the importance of cities in a global context has become more and more evident. Today more than half of the world’s population lives in urban settlements, with estimates being that it will be two thirds by 2050.Tthe role that cities play in a number of global issues facing the world politics, such as poverty, security, economy and climate change, both as the source of problem and solution is being increasingly acknowledged. Urbanization and cities are in this view more and more central to the workings of  the United Nations. Not only is there a programme with the focus on human settlements, UN habitat, but a number of other agencies address issues that arise with urbanization. This work aims to create an understanding of how cities are viewed within the context of the United nations, and how different entities work with cities to meet challenges of an urban dimension. Building on the Lab's City Diplomacy programme, it aims to offer a more systematic understanding of the role that cities play in the UN system, and how UN agencies work with cities and urban challenges. 


The project seeks to identify how cities are addressed in official UN documents and in which contexts cities are object of multilateral (and specifically UN-led) attention. Through case studies the project will also provide insight on the how UN entities and cities work together on project and initiatives, in order to understand the opportunities and challenges that arise from such collaborations.