Release January 31st: “Nordic Declaration on the Implementation of the New Urban Agenda

“We are the first generation that can put an end to poverty and we are the last generation that can put an end to climate change,” UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said with reference to the adoption of 2030 Agenda, COP21 and Financing for Development. As 70 percent of the world’s energy consumption and GDP is generated in our rapidly growing cities, the implementation of the global agendas will depend on sustainable urban development.

It is primarily in our cities where urban poverty can be fought and the climate saved. The eleventh sustainable development goal SDG 11: “Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable” is therefore crucial for the implementation of the global agendas and in order to achieve the goals. The global agenda is simply local.

More than half of the world’s population lives in cities. During the coming generation, the urban population is expected to double. The largest increase will occur in Sub-Saharan Africa. The pace of this urbanization means that we will have to build as much new city as has been built throughout the entire history of mankind.

One billion – that is one seventh of the world’s population – today live in informal settlements or under slum-like conditions. Urban inequality is not only increasing in poorer countries, but is also becoming a common feature in richer countries. The Nordic countries are no exception and are also characterized by a high level of urbanization challenging equality, especially in metropolitan areas.

Global Challenge highlights the increasingly important role of cities as drivers for sustainable development. We wish to capture and disseminate system solutions created in collaboration between politics, research, private sector and civil society in cities around the world. In the daily work towards sustainable development, we believe that leadership is of immense importance. As a think tank, we want to follow the developments taking place in urban areas with the aim of spreading good practices and creating concrete policy proposals. Co-production is key as measures will have to be implemented on the ground.

The Sustainable Cities programme has played a vital role within the think tank since the start. One milestone was the anthology ‘Urban world – New steps towards sustainable cities’ which was an ambition to contribute to sustainable urban development through integration of different perspectives on the challenges of our time. The anthology has been included in syllabi at several Swedish Universities. In 2011, Global Challenge initiated a ‘test workshop’ in Alby Subtopia in order to test methods and ideas for future investments in multidisciplinary workshops for ‘community builders’.

Sustainable Cities paid attention early on to the importance of local leadership and the need for an urban policy for sustainable urban development. In 2014 a collaboration with UN-Habitat was initiated. The first phase of the collaboration resulted in the report Leadership for Sustainable Cities – an international outlook with focus on how cities’ leadership can be at the forefront in the global transition towards sustainable development. Since 2015, the implementation of Agenda 2030 plays a central in the collaboration with a special focus on SDG11 alongside a focus on Nordic leadership. During 2016 the think tank coordinated a national platform for sustainable urban development with special focus on the UN conference Habitat III which will develop a New Urban Agenda. For more information on our projects, you can read more below.




Elin Andersdotter Fabre (Programme Manager)


Ongoing Projects

Leadership for sustainable Cities – Nordic Urban Ways


Nordic Urban Ways: Local Leadership, Governance, and Management for Sustainable Development
Local Implementation of the SDGs and the New Urban Agenda – Towards a Swedish National Urban Policy
#UrbanGirlsMovement – Från lokala goda exempel till globala lärdomar
Ledarskap för hållbara städer – En internationell utblick
Urbaniserad värld – Nya steg mot hållbara städer
Bostadspolitiken och energieffektiviseringen av bebyggelsen
Framtidens hållbara konsumtion

Policy Briefs

About the Sustainable Cities Programme 
Nordic Declaration on the Implementation of the New Urban Agenda
#UrbanGirlsMovement – Guidelines for Feminist Urban Development
#UrbanGirlsMovement Concept Note


Global Utmaning at the European Development Days

Opinion Pieces

The Battle for Sustainable Development Must Be Fought in Our Cities