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Urban Pathways - Delivering on the New Urban Agenda

Urban Pathways - Supporting Low Carbon Plans for Urban Basic Services in the context of the New Urban Agenda
​The Urban Pathways project helps delivering on the Paris Agreement and the NDCs in the context of the New Urban Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals. The project follows a structured approach to boost Low Carbon Plans for urban mobility, energy and waste management services, working on concrete steps towards a maximum impact in cities to global climate change mitigation efforts ​and sustainable and inclusive urban development. 

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On the 12th of December 2015, Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) reached a landmark agreement to combat climate change and to accelerate and intensify the actions and investments needed for a sustainable low carbon future in Paris, France – bringing into existence the “Paris Agreement”. The Paris Agreement builds upon the Convention and – for the first time – brings all nations into a common cause to undertake take ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects, with enhanced support to assist developing countries to do so. As such, it charts a new course in the global climate effort. Also in December of 2015, the United Nations General Assembly, in its seventieth session, adopted the resolution on the ‘Implementation of the outcome of the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) and strengthening of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) (A/70/210) , which refers to the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) Conference modalities. The intention of the Habitat III Conference is to reinvigorate the global commitment to sustainable urbanisation and to focus on the implementation of a New Urban Agenda, building on the Habitat Agenda of Istanbul in 1996. 

The Urban Pathways project embarked on a four-year programme which started in October 2017. It helped deliver on the Paris Agreement and the NDCs in the context of the New Urban Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals. Its aim is to make a direct contribution to sustainable urban development by focusing on implementation projects in the areas of mobility, energy, and resource management. 

Initially, the Urban Pathways project focused on India, Brazil, Kenya and Vietnam as four pilot countries for the implementation of the programme’s identified work agenda. Over the years, it stretched its activities far beyond those countries, being active with pilot projects in 9 cities with replication activities in many more.  

The Urban Pathways project had developed and helped to implement a variety of pilot projects for each of the partner cities. During this intense period of cooperation and interaction the team has gained understanding of some of the obstacles and gaps of the regulative framework and / or (lack of) capacities of the partner cities and countries. 

The Urban Pathways approach starts with rather small-scale, bottom-up activities, believing in the potential of replicating and upscaling such pilot projects. Our experiences highlighted the fact that - while material sites and infrastructure of course play an important role - a mindset change is a pivotal precondition for transitioning to sustainable urban development. Thus, small, low-cost projects, such as the EcoZone or Tactical Urbanism, focusing on neighbourhoods as the geographical scale can play an important role in speeding up low-carbon urban action. Also, at the neighbourhood level an intersectoral approach is easier applicable, addressing simultaneously different sectors, such as mobility and waste, through a series of activities that include tactical urbanism, awareness-raising, community participation and impact assessment.

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