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Learning from Each Other: Municipal Public Works Implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

New York, United States of America
3 Days
Programme Area
Decentralize Cooperation Programme
Event Focal Point Email
New York City Department of Public Works
Private – by invitation
Mode of Delivery
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Half of humanity - 3.5 billion people - lives in cities today and by 2030, almost 60 percent of the world’s population will leave in urban areas (UNDESA 2014). Rapid urbanization is exerting pressure on fresh water supplies, sewage, the living environment, and public health. At the same time, the high density of cities can bring efficiency gains and technological innovation, while also providing the spaces to develop innovative solutions to global challenges.Being the engines of socio-economic development, cities also become concentrations of disaster risk. Disasters, many exacerbated by climate change, significantly impede progress towards sustainable development, sometimes reversing years of advances in a single event.

In this context, cities are forced to constantly develop and improve their services. These services include the urbanization of new areas, drinking water, sewer systems, power supply, roads, and transportation, among others. Cities also have the capacity to address the risks and challenges they face. Public works leaders from “mega cities”—older urban centers within larger urban regions with complex and aging infrastructure systems that are also vibrant growing cities—play a critical role in identifying new approaches to build resilient infrastructure, foster innovation and make cities safe and sustainable. 

In September 2015, the world countries adopted the new global Sustainable Development Goals and associated targets, which will guide the decisions we take over the next fifteen years. As all of us work towards the achievement of the Goals within our own countries and at the local, regional and global levels, best practice sharing and enhanced capacities are essential. Likewise, multi-stakeholder collaboration in new ways to develop and finance infrastructure projects, to provide services and to promote socially inclusive, better-integrated and sustainable cities is crucial.  

As part of the United Nations efforts to contribute to a multi-partner approach to development and to provide platforms for dialogue and best practices exchange, UNITAR and the New York City Department of Design and Construction are hosting the conference « Learning from Each Other: Municipal Public Works Implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)” to be held in New York from the 11th to the 13th of April 2016.

The conference aims to serve as a relevant venue for dialogue and best practices exchange among public works leaders from “mega cities” around the world on how to build resilient infrastructure, foster innovation and make cities safe and sustainable.

The conference consists of panel discussions and roundtable dialogues to share best practices and concrete recommendations on how to promote integrated and inclusive cities, efficiency of services and sustainable economic development. Throughout the conference, public works leader participants will collaborate as “peers” and leverage each other’s experience and knowledge. Selected academics and representatives from the construction industry, professionals and trade associations will also support the collaborative learning experience.

The conference also incorporates a field trip to New York City public infrastructure and building projects on the morning of April 13th.

The conference will be delivered through:

  • Plenary sessions facilitated by experts, academics, industry leaders and local government officials on key areas
  • Roundtable discussion on policies and best practices
  • Peer-to-peer sessions to share experiences, challenges and concerns in managing cities
  • Discussion forum/panel with private sector leaders
  • Field visit to projects related to the themes of the conference

The conference will bring together public works leaders from the U.S. and cities around the world for a dynamic and active discussion. Some invited cities include: Beijing, Hong Kong, Tiangin, San Paolo, Shanghai, Tokyo, Paris, London, Mexico City, Chicago and Los Angeles.