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RECNET Report: “Sustainable Urbanisation in the Paris Agreement”

A report developed by RECNET was presented in the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference, the twenty-first session of the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties -COP-21, that was convened in Paris, France in December 2015.


The 21st session of the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties -COP-21, that was convened in Paris, France in December 2015, was the largest UN conference ever seen, with 37.878 participants, including 20.000 government/parties representatives, 8.000 IGOs/NGOs observers, and 3.000 media.

Sustainable Urbanization in the Paris Agreement’ – a comparative review of Nationally Determined Contributions for Urban Content”, a UN-Habitat publication coming on the heels of Habitat III, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and COP22. The adoption of the New Urban Agenda (NUA) on 20 October 2016, and the entry into force of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change two weeks later, on 4 November 2016, are a strong first step toward the immediate implementation of Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, in urban- and climate change related matters.

In this final version of the publication, UN-Habitat analyzes the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) towards the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, with a special focus on the urban context, in order to understand better the roles of member states in urban climate action.

The result is very encouraging: over two-thirds – 113 out of 164 – of the submitted NDCs show clear urban references and content, establishing the relationship between sustainable urbanization and climate action. Through the New Urban Agenda and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, UN-Habitat stands ready to support member states to implement their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

By 2030, almost 60% of the world’s population will live in urban áreas. 95 per cent of urban expansion in the next decades will take place in developing world. 828 million people live in slums today and the number keeps rising. The world’s cities occupy just 3 per cent of the Earth’s land, but account for 60-80 per cent of energy consumption and 75 per cent of carbon emissions. Rapid urbanization is exerting pressure on fresh wáter supplies, sewage, the living environment, and public health. But the high density of cities can bring efficiency gains and technological innovation while reducing resource and energy consumption (UNDP SDG Goal 11 facts and figures).

Summary of Findings:

  • 110 Countries included “urban content” in their NDC, in particular in rapidly urbanizing regions of Africa and Asia.

  • Current Challenges identified related to flooding.

  • Actions foreseen in NDCs cover both in Mitigation and Adaptation.

  • Significant Mitigation Potential in urban sectors where action is foreseen, ‘low-hanging fruit type interventions.

  •  Requests for support in finance and technology transfer.

  •  Together with the commitment of subnational governments, high potential for vertical integration of climate action to achieve national goals.


Robert Kehew, Marcus Mayr.

Lead Authors:

Dr. Nicola Tollin, Recycling Cities International Network RECNET, International Program on Urban Resilience RESURBE and University of Bradford.

Prof. Dr. Johannes Hamhaber, TH Köholn University of Applied Science and Recycling Cities International Network RECNET.


Dr. Stelios Grafakos, Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies (IHS), Erasmus University Rotterdam; Dr. Shuaib Lwasa, Makerere University;

Prof. Dr. Jordi Morato, Recycling Cities International Network RECNET and UNESCO Chair on Sustainability at Technical University of Catalunya.


Lucia Benavides TH Köln; Ursula Cockburn, TH Köln; Teresa Moran RECNET; Aline Lusieux Alves de Oliveira, TH Köln; Richard Orth, TH Köln; Elena Ensenado, IHS Erasmus University Rotterdam; Kate Trigg, IHS Erasmus University Rotterdam.

Supporting Organizations:

Recycling Cities International Network RECNET, RESURBE International Program on Urban Resilience, UNESCO Chair on Sustainability at Technical University of Catalunya Technical University of Cologne,Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies (IHS) Erasmus University Rotterdam, Makerere University, National Autonomous University of Mexico, AdaptChile.

Pages: 82.

Year: 2016

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