Experts in urban development stressed the importance of data collection and monitoring, including Voluntary Local Reviews (VLRs), in improving local governance, identifying development opportunities, and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) localization, during a session organized by UN-Habitat in cooperation with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), Middle East and West Asia (UCLG-MEWA) and the Arab Towns Organization (ATO), in the last week of June at the Eleventh Session of the World Urban Forum (WUF11).
In the session entitled “The State of Arab Cities”, participants discussed how tools such as VLRs, which analyze the implementation of SDGs at the local level, can address data gaps, as well as provide guidance and technical support to local governments.
“We hope to continue to support the collection and analysis of data at the local level in order to achieve effective urban development that is adequate to the Arab region,” Dr. Erfan Ali, UN-Habitat regional representative for the Arab region, said in his closing remarks.
The lack of urban data collection tools is one of the challenges in advancing urban development. Addressing this challenge, UN-habitat is currently leading the drive for VLRs in the Arab region in partnership with ESCWA, UCLG-MEWA, and ATO.
“The lack of data and monitoring tools hinders sustainable development. Only through accurate data, cities are able to evaluate their progress and create comprehensive plans to further achieve SDGs,” Eng. Ahmed Sobeih, Secretary-General of ATO stressed.
VLRs mechanism has become an essential tool for cities around the world in reporting and tracking SDGs progress. In the Arab region, following an inclusive and participatory approach, two cities have started developing their VLRs, namely, Amman, Jordan, and Agadir, Morocco, with more cities due to begin the process later this year.
“VLRs of Aman seeks to strengthen monitoring mechanisms for local development and improve cooperation with cities around the world, setting a strategy to achieve SDGs by the year 2030,” Mrs. Njoud AbdelJawad, Manager of International Relations and Technical Support Department of Greater Amman Municipality, commented about Aman’s objectives in implementing VLRs.
Mr. Mehmet Duman, Secretary-General of UCLG-MEWA praised the cities of Aman and Agadir for their successful implementation.
WUF, organized by UN-Habitat, is the premier conference on urbanization and is held every two years. WUF11 is co-organized by UN-Habitat, Poland’s Ministry of Development Funds and Regional Policy, and the Municipal Office of Katowice.