Governments benefit from urbanization

Promote sustainable urbanization and urban development worldwide

initial situation

Urbanization is a global megatrend. 55 percent of the world's population already live in cities. By 2050 it will be more than three quarters - around seven billion people. Especially the small and medium-sized cities in Africa and Asia are growing rapidly. The speed and extent of urbanization are particularly challenging.

It is assumed that 60 percent of the infrastructure has yet to be built in order to house and supply all city dwellers by 2050. The associated consumption of energy and resources alone would generate around three quarters of global greenhouse gas emissions, the maximum permitted under the Paris Agreement in order to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

But cities also offer a unique potential to tackle these challenges holistically. Be it climate protection, poverty reduction or security: Even small changes can have a big impact here and reach many people at the same time. It is therefore crucial to shape urbanization with foresight and to promote sustainable urban development. The global development goals can only be achieved with, through and in cities.


German development cooperation promotes socially just, climate-friendly and resilient urban development - especially in the rapidly growing small and medium-sized towns.


The project advises the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) on how to anchor sustainable urbanization and integrated urban development in German development cooperation. It supports reforms in the BMZ field of action “Sustainable Urban Development” and prepares focus topics such as integrated urban planning, sustainable construction, municipal financing and cities in the face of climate change.

The project supports the BMZ in communication and disseminates key issues of the ministry. To this end, it operates the URBANET weblog, where it reports on good approaches, challenges and opportunities for sustainable urban development, local governance and decentralization. In addition, it organizes the CitiesCHALLENGE 2.0 ideas competition, which identifies and tests innovative approaches for climate-friendly and socially inclusive urban development. The development and provision of advisory tools such as City WORKS is also part of the range of tasks. The project thus makes a contribution to the integrated implementation of international agendas at the local level.

In order to establish a contemporary understanding of urban development in international processes, the project advises the BMZ on climate negotiations and the implementation of development goals. The focus is on the three overarching goals of the ministry:

  1. Cities are able to act and actively shape sustainable development.
  2. Cities are livable for all residents.
  3. Urban development occurs within the ecological limits of our planet.

The goals are to be anchored in German development cooperation and internationally. To this end, the project has been cooperating closely with partners such as the Cities Alliance, the United Nations Program for Human Settlements (UN-Habitat), the Cities Climate Finance Leadership Alliance and city associations such as the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) for many years. The network for sustainable building should also be mentioned here, which opens up opportunities for cooperation with those involved in the German private sector and research. The project also supports Germany's positioning at international conferences such as the World Urban Forum, the world's most important conference on urbanization and urban development.

Status: March 2021