Sustainable Cities Programme
History and context
Urban challenge
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Sustainable Cities Programme
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The Sustainable Cities Programme (SCP) is a joint UN-HABITAT/UNEP facility established in the early 1990s to build capacities in urban environmental planning and management. The programme targets urban local authorities and their partners. It is founded on broad-based stakeholder participatory approaches.

Key Features of the Sustainable Cities Programme

The SCP was started in the early nineties to support both the missions of UN-HABITAT and UNEP. The first phase concluded in 2001, and the current second phase runs from 2002 - 2007. Currently the SCP and its sister programme Localising Agenda 21 (LA21) operate in over 30 countries worldwide.


A facility to package urban Environmental Planning and Management (EPM) approaches, technologies and know-how.

An EPM capacity development infrastructure - facilitating sub-regional resource networks for wider impact.


  • Strengthening local capacities to address urban environmental priority issues.
  • Enabling replication and scaling-up of EPM activities.
  • Mobilising anchoring institutions for EPM support.


Municipalities and local partners

Donor and technical support

Multi and bilateral external support from UN-HABITAT, UNEP, UNDP, ILO, the World Bank, the Netherlands, Japan, France, Denmark, and the United Kingdom.   


  • Broad-based stakeholder involvement in city development strategies.
  • Participatory problem-solving through inclusive processes and pro-poor governance.
  • Mobilisation of local resources and commitment.
  • A framework for capacity development and support for institutions leading to better implementation.
  • Mainstreaming environmental concerns in urban planning and management.
  • An instrument for implementing UNEP's Agenda 21 mission at the city level, and the environmental component of the Habitat Agenda, the Declaration on Cities and other Human Settlements and the Millennium Declaration.
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