Brussels to Quito: urban momentum goes global

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Mayors and deputy mayors from major European cities met in Quito on 17 October to discuss how the Urban Agenda for the EU can support the delivery of the New UN Urban Agenda, a set of global commitments towards sustainable urban development being adopted this week at the UN Habitat III conference.

The city leaders met for a side event organised by EUROCITIES and the European Urban Knowledge Network (EUKN).

Anna Lisa Boni, EUROCITIES secretary general, said:

“Rapid urbanisation means already half the world population lives in cities. We’re seeing real recognition for the contribution cities can make to global sustainability, competitiveness and economic growth. Let’s now capitalise on this global urban momentum to ensure our cities are resourced and equipped to deliver the results we know they’re capable of.” 

Cities around the world are now home to 54.5% of the world’s population, account for 70% of global GDP, more than 60% of global energy consumption, 70% of global greenhouse gas emissions and 70% of global waste. In Europe, more than three quarters of citizens live in urban areas. As well as driving our global economies and leading innovation, it is cities that must deliver on social inclusion. From providing affordable housing to addressing urban poverty, cities are at the heart of the sustainability challenge.

UN member states adopted the New Urban Agenda during the UN HABITAT III conference in Quito (17-20 October). The global agenda aims to guide sustainable urbanisation, with a focus on fundamental urban challenges such as adequate housing and environmental protection.

EU member states adopted the Urban Agenda for the EU at a meeting in Amsterdam in May. The agenda provides the basis for a new way of working in partnership between European cities, national governments and the EU institutions on policy areas with an urban dimension. The aim is to produce better regulation, policies and funding to benefit the three quarters of European citizens living in cities.

EUROCITIES has been involved from the beginning of the shaping of the Urban Agenda for the EU. Since its launch in May this year, a number of pilot partnerships have been or are soon to be launched, focusing on European challenges with an urban concern, such as quality jobs and skills, housing, integration of refugees and migrants, and the circular economy.

Anna Lisa Boni continued:

“EUROCITIES has been invested in the development of an urban agenda at EU level for two decades, and our members are committed to making sure it delivers real added value for European citizens. We are seeing a new model of urban governance emerge, and linking these European and global urban agendas could be an opportunity to scale up results. After all, European cities are some of the most sustainable, inclusive and competitive in the world.”

Learn more about UN Habitat III at


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EUROCITIES staff contact

Silvia Ganzerla