Municipal and urban development in development cooperation

Project details

Title: Sector project on urbanisation, municipal and urban development 
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Global
Overall term: 2017 to 2020



Tomorrow’s world will be urban. Today, 55 per cent of people already live in cities, and by 2050 this will have risen to more than three quarters – around seven billion people. The speed and scale of urbanisation is creating huge global challenges. For example, some 880 million people currently live in slums, and three quarters of global greenhouse gas emissions are produced in cities.

Nevertheless, cities also offer many solutions and opportunities for a sustainable world. Even small changes in cities, be it climate change mitigation, fighting poverty or improving safety, can have a great impact and reach large numbers of people simultaneously. That is why the shaping of urbanisation and the promotion of sustainable urban development are crucial to achieving global development goals. These goals are only achievable with, through and in cities.


German development cooperation in the field of municipal and urban development is successfully implementing the internationally agreed New Urban Agenda with its partners, in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.


The sector project provides advice to the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) on mainstreaming sustainable urbanisation and integrated urban development in German development cooperation. It also supports the strategic development of core topics such as sustainable construction, municipal funding and cities in times of climate change. To encourage the sharing of knowledge on good practices, challenges and opportunities in sustainable urban development, local governance and decentralisation, the project runs the weblog URBANET on behalf of the ministry.

At the same time, the project supports BMZ in implanting a modern understanding of urban development in key development policy processes, such as climate change negotiations and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In doing so, it bases its work on the Ministry’s three major objectives: 1) Cities have the capacity to take action and actively shape sustainable development. 2) Cities are liveable for everyone. 3) Urban development takes place within our planet’s ecological boundaries.

In order to embed these objectives in German development cooperation as well as internationally, the project has for many years been collaborating closely with the strategic partners the Cities Alliance and UN-Habitat, and with the cities networks C40 and ICLEI.


The comprehensive advice on developing and implementing the core topics of sustainable urban development is improving the potential of German development policy to address cross-departmental and cross-sectoral issues in urban areas, systematically and holistically. The project shares effective approaches to sustainable urban development by means of conceptual work and dialogue with German and international partners and experts.

Continuous and close cooperation with representatives of all interest groups, particularly cities and civil society stakeholders, promotes their recognition and involvement in international policy processes. Regular collaboration at the World Urban Forum, the most important conference on urbanisation and urban development in the world, is of central importance in this regard.

Through cooperation with the Cities Alliance, the project encourages the mainstreaming of a pro-poor urban development policy. In this way, it strengthens the right of disadvantaged social groups to participate in and access urban development.

Funding from the British Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is used to support partner cities of C40 in the implementation of climate action plans, intended to contribute to substantial reductions in their greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. The plans also enable these cities continuously to monitor their greenhouse gas emissions and climate risks.

In early 2017, the cooperation with C40 led to the creation of the C40 Cities Finance Facility (CFF) as part of the project. This partnership supports cities in preparing climate-friendly projects and identifying sources of financing for them. Besides BMZ, the CFF has attracted further key donors in the shape of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and BEIS. At the end of 2018, the CFF became an independent global project.